Morris-Jumel Mansion Presents "Yinka Shonibare MBE: Colonial Arrangements"

  • NEW YORK, New York
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  • March 12, 2015

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Yinka Shonibare, MBE (Nigerian, b. 1962). Girl on Scooter, 2009. Mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton, leather and fiberglass. Ann and Mel Schaffer Family Collection. © Yinka Shonibare. Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York/ Shanghai

On May 1st, Morris-Jumel Mansion will open Yinka Shonibare MBE: Colonial Arrangements, a special, site-specific exhibition of work by English-born Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE (b. 1962). Shonibare’s art explores identity, race, gender and the cross-pollination of cultures through the use of life-sized mannequins adorned in period costumes rendered in Dutch wax fabric (the colorful, Indonesian textile introduced to Africa by British and Dutch merchant-colonizers). Colonial Arrangements is being held in conjunction with the 250th anniversary of Morris-Jumel Mansion, a storied historic house located in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan.

Colonial Arrangements, scheduled to run through August 31, will feature an entirely new work by Shonibare commissioned by Morris-Jumel. The work utilizes 19th century theatrical techniques to create an apparition of Eliza Jumel (1775‒1865), the Mansion’s longest-tenured resident. In addition, placed throughout Morris-Jumel’s 18th and 19th century period rooms will be sculptures of children clothed in period costumes made of Dutch wax batik cotton textile taken from the artist’s 2009 series “Mother and Father Worked Hard So I Can Play.”

Set within the Mansion’s well-appointed interiors, Shonibare’s work elucidates, vivifies, and examines Morris-Jumel’s multi-layered history, which spans the colonial period to the present. Colonial Arrangements gives occasion to consider the interrelationships of Europe, Africa and the Americas during the 18th and 19th centuries, and provides a window into the lives of the era’s men, women and children. And, as the exhibition’s name suggests, Shonibare’s work draws attention to colonialism’s role in shaping—arranging, if you will—the social and cultural structures in which the residents of Morris-Jumel lived.

Colonial Arrangements is being held in partnership with the Historic House Trust of New York City, overseer of the Historic House Trust Contemporary Arts Partnership program. Generously sponsoring the exhibition are the James Cohan Gallery, the New York State Council on the Arts and The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc.

About Morris-Jumel Mansion

Built in 1765, Morris-Jumel Mansion, headquarters to General George Washington during the battle of New York and host to presidents, senators, cabinet members and royalty, is turning 250 year’s old. To celebrate, Morris-Jumel is staging throughout the year an array of engaging sestercentennial events, including a benefit performance held at the Public Theater of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash musical, “Hamilton;” an exhibition of new and classic work by the world-renowned artist Yinka Shonibare MBE; an evening onboard an exact replica of Lafayette’s frigate L’Hermione; a Washington Heights community celebration; and a nighttime theatrical reenactment of dramatic scenes from Morris-Jumel history.

Morris-Jumel Mansion, located at 65 Jumel Terrace, New York, NY, is a not-for-profit museum open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Committed to preserving, interpreting, and making relevant to diverse audiences the Mansion’s illustrious past and varied collection of period art and furnishings, Morris-Jumel is a member of the Historic House Trust of New York City and the American Alliance of Museums. Visit the Mansion online at

Stephanie Markovic
Bow Bridge Communications

Morris-Jumel Mansion
65 Jumel Terrace
New York, New York

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