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Current Exhibition

WHITE HISTORY MONTH VOL. 1

An exhibition by Tylonn J. Sawyer
Nov 18 - Dec 19, 2019
Gallery Hours: M-F 9am-5pm

Artist Conversation & Reception
With Tylonn J. Sawyer and curator Amanda Krugliak
Nov 21, 5:30-7pm

LOOK 101: Seeing Art in an Instagram World
The Art of Tylonn J. Sawyer with curator Amanda Krugliak
Nov 18, 1pm

All events are free and open to the public and held at the Institute for the Humanities, 202 S. Thayer.

Mining symbols of power and oppression from the historical strata of western art, Sawyer exposes truths, while covering others to gain a clearer picture of concepts that have shaped our current society. Within the context of his figurative drawings and paintings Sawyer presents an alternative to the historical record that often accompanies well known images throughout art history.

Inspired by current trends to redact post Civil War Confederate monuments from the American landscape, Sawyer poses the question: Why are some symbols of oppression lauded, considered sacred and become canonized while others cause the public to demand their destruction? Is there a logical thread in the tapestry of oppression? Can this thread be observed and considered? Lastly, can this thread then be unraveled?

Additionally, this exhibition features a series of drawings titled Grâce Nóir, which features Black women whose works have contributed to shaping the landscape of visual culture.

As part of his residency, Sawyer also worked with U-M students to create a mural to honor Samuel C. Watson, the first African American student admitted to the University of Michigan. The mural is on view on the first floor of MLB. Read the curator's statement

About the artist:

Tylonn J. Sawyer (b. 1976) is an American figurative artist, educator, and curator living and working in Detroit, Michigan. His work centers around themes of identity, both individual and collective, politics, race, history and pop culture. In 2013, Sawyer expanded his studio practice to include large public murals and collaborative projects throughout Detroit. Sawyer is a professor of art at Oakland Community College and teaches drawing at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. His passion for arts education lead to his community work with youth including various community arts programs throughout New York, where he served as an art director, teacher, curriculum specialist, and more. Most recently, in early 2014, Sawyer started the first teen arts council in Michigan for the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. He earned an MFA in painting from the New York Academy of Art: Graduate School of Figurative Art and a BFA in drawing & painting from Eastern Michigan University. In 2019, he was awarded the Alain Locke Recognition Award as well as a Kresge Fellowship for Visual Art.