Portrait of Kristen Owens. Photo by Chrystofer Davis


[action=query]: Black Arts and Black Aesthetics

Organized by Inaugural Wikimedia Fellow Kristen Owens

Published Wednesday, Jan 25, 2023

Pace is pleased to present [action=query]: Black Arts and Black Aesthetics, an exhibition organized by Kristen Owens, the gallery’s inaugural Wikimedia Fellow, at its 540 West 25th Street location in New York. Presented in the library on the gallery’s first floor, this presentation is the culmination of Owens’s self-guided research into the Black American and Black diasporic artists who have been represented by or exhibited with Pace during its 60-year history. To mark Black History Month, [action=query]: Black Arts and Black Aesthetics will run from February 1 to 25.

The six-month-long Wikimedia Fellowship, which began in September 2022, was established as part of an ongoing partnership between Pace and Black Lunch Table, a nonprofit organization working to build a comprehensive and robust digital archive of Black artists’ stories. In 2021, Pace collaborated with Black Lunch Table to present a Juneteenth photo booth event at its flagship in New York. Founded in 2005 by artists Heather Hart and jina valentine, Black Lunch Table is dedicated to archiving and sharing the work, voices, and experiences of Black artists throughout history. By way of roundtable discussions, Wikimedia edit-a-thons, and other programming, the organization facilitates collective and collaborative initiatives in service of this mission.

Edge, Encounter #4 (Liquid a Place) by Torkwase Dyson

Torkwase Dyson, Edge, Encounter #4 (Liquid a Place), 2022 © Torkwase Dyson

Owens, a librarian and curator whose interdisciplinary research, writing, and curatorial work is situated in African American and Black diasporic studies, is the Librarian for African American and Black Diaspora Studies at New York University Libraries. The title of her upcoming presentation at Pace—[action=query]: Black Arts and Black Aesthetics—is derived from several sources: the computational format in which data are edited on Wikipedia and scholar Carolyn Fowler’s 1981 book Black Arts and Black Aesthetics: A Bibliography, which, along with scholar Howard Rambsy II’s recent essay “Carolyn Fowler’s Black Arts and Black Aesthetics and Public Bibliography,” grounded Owens’s research as Wikimedia Fellow. Guided and inspired by histories of communal resource sharing, Owens has composed a new, public-facing bibliography for Black arts and aesthetics.

[action=query]: Black Arts and Black Aesthetics will function as a reading room where visitors will have the opportunity to directly engage with a selection of catalogues, theoretical and scholarly essays, and other key publications and archival materials focused on Black art and visual culture. Curated by Owens, these titles will include The Soul of a Nation Reader: Writings by and about Black American Artists, 1960–1980; Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem; and Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power, among others. Owens’s bibliographic text will also be available for visitors to read. In the way of artworks, Edge, Encounter #4 (Liquid a Place) (2022)—a work on paper by Torkwase Dyson, whose practice has been a focus of Owens’s research—will preside over the living room set-up, which will include comfortable seating for visitors.

This exhibition will be complemented by public programming organized by Pace Live—the gallery’s interdisciplinary platform for commissioning, producing, and presenting new live art performances, musical acts, and other events— as well as original editorial content published across Pace’s digital channels.

Deeply engaged with Black Lunch Table’s work in reframing the art historical canon, the Wikimedia Fellowship focuses on editing and expanding Wikimedia entries for frequently overlooked artists. Centering on Pace’s research library, a vital resource comprising over 11,000 volumes, the fellowship is supported by the gallery’s Research and Archives team.

Learn more about Black Lunch Table (opens in a new window) here.

  • Exhibitions — Presenting [action=query]: Black Arts and Black Aesthetics, Jan 25, 2023