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Brittney Leeanne Williams, Untitled (Birds of Paradise), 2018; acrylic on canvas; courtesy of the artist and Alexander Berggruen, NY.

Elegies: Still Lifes in Contemporary Art

Telfair Museums / September 16, 2022 - February 19, 2023 / Savannah, Georgia


Elegies: Still Lifes in Contemporary Art is a group exhibition bringing together an international collection of artists who have disrupted or extended the traditional presentation of still lifes. The artists have appropriated the genre in order to create works within a framework of Black diasporic identities, histories, and collective experiences. Their works are expressed through various mediums, including painting, photography, sculpture, printmaking, performance, and installation. Many of the artists are primarily known for portraiture, making these still lifes compelling outliers in their practices. A central discourse in this exhibition considers Blackness in relation to the existential question, “How does an artist create work about the body without the body being present?” resulting in political, historical, and art historical interventions. Elegies is a thematic exhibition that presents two parallel narratives: one is an art historical examination of still lifes, and the other is how that history is connected to Black figuration.

This exhibition is organized by Monique Long, independent curator, with Elena Gross, director of exhibitions and curatorial affairs, Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco. The presentation at Telfair Museums was designed in collaboration with Erin Dunn, curator of modern and contemporary art.

Jepson Center
201 W. York Street
Savannah, Georgia