About the exhibit

About the exhibit

Inspired by the 2016-2017 UO Common Reading selection Between the World and Me, the artists’ books from the University of Oregon Libraries collections address race, identity, privilege, capitalism, education, diaspora, and family as lived, studied, observed, and expressed by a variety of artists.

Between the World and Me is a stark acknowledgement of the distorted lens through which the white imagination envisages the black body. One may #SayHerName and proclaim #BlackLivesMatter, but the instinct to look away from violence to the black body—to rationalize, explain, and ignore it—is never far from the surface. Increasing visual evidence of police brutality in the U.S. coupled with endemic racial disparities in sentencing and incarceration rates are simultaneously sobering and terrifying.

The contradiction between reality and dominant narratives mirror the distance between the subversive format of artists’ books from the convention of traditional books. Though all of the exhibition selections were created prior to the publication of Between the World and Me, they reinforce many of Coates’ themes—requiring one to confront and interrogate conceptions of the black body and most critically, recognize that You Must Never Look Away From This.

Now on view at Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon through June 2017.

Exhibition Guide
For more information about each book, visit the #NeverLookAway exhibition guide.

Exhibit curated by Digital Projects and Engagement Librarian Tatiana Bryant (tatianab@uoregon.edu) and Art & Architecture Librarian Sara DeWaay (sdewaay@uoregon.edu).

Exhibit image from Colored people: a collaborative book project by Adrian Piper via Oregon Digital.