Shawn Michelle Smith – Witness Trees: Ken Gonzales-Day Re-surveys the U.S. West

Wednesday October 4, 2023
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

We are pleased to present a lecture by Shawn Michelle Smith, organized by the Critical Image Forum with the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Witness Trees:  Ken Gonzales-Day Re-surveys the U.S. West
A lecture by Shawn Michelle Smith

Presented by the Critical Image Forum and the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory with the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023 | 5:30 p.m.

This talk proposes that Ken Gonzales-Day’s photographic series Searching for California Hang Trees brings into view the intertwined ecosystems of racialized human violence.

Shawn Michelle Smith
studies the history and theory of photography and race and gender in visual culture. She has published seven books, including most recently Photographic Returns: Racial Justice and the Time of Photography (Duke, 2020), which won the 2021 Ray and Pat Browne Award from the Popular Culture Association.

She guest edited a special issue of the journal MELUS on visual culture and race (2014), and she currently serves on the editorial or advisory boards of American Art, Photography & Culture, and Journal of Visual Culture. She has published essays in a number of edited collections and articles in American Quarterly, Art Journal, Aperture, Journal of Visual Culture, American Art, ASAP/J, African American Review, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Yale Journal of Criticism, and Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, among others.

In 2018 she curated the exhibition Meridel Rubenstein: Eden Turned on Its Side at the University of New Mexico Art Museum. She has been awarded fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, among others. Smith is also a visual artist and her photo-based work has been exhibited in art galleries and university museums across the country. Smith is Professor and Chair of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Image: Ken Gonzales-Day, At daylight the miserable man was taken to an oak and hanged, 2002.