28 January 2021

Kehinde Wiley artworks installed at Barnard College

Milbank Hall, Barnard college, New York, USA

Two works by Kehinde Wiley have been installed at Barnard College, New York in the reception of Milbank Hall. The large-scale, oil-on-canvas paintings, 'Portrait of Dorinda Essah' and 'Portrait of Savannah Essah,' frame Access Barnard, an initiative which supports students who identify as first-generation, low-income, and international. The paintings are on long-term loan to the College.

The portraits form part of a series of six paintings from the exhibition ‘Kehinde Wiley: The Yellow Wallpaper’, which opened at William Morris Gallery in 2020. The exhibition offered a visual response to American novelist Charlotte Perkins Gilman's acclaimed feminist text, 'The Yellow Wallpaper', 1892. Wiley employs the heroic visual vocabulary of traditional portraiture to position the subjects as autonomous, powerful and emblems of strength within a society of complicated social networks. Recalling a style once used almost exclusively to depict white aristocratic subjects, these portraits distil a complex dialogue about race and identity in a post-colonial age. ⁠

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