On view from February 17 to June 6, 2021
Overview: Visit the New Museum to see a powerful and polemical exhibition with coffee or tea after (right across the street) to reflect.
When you arrive at the museum (make sure you reserve a timed ticket in advance!), I recommend taking the elevator up to the fourth floor upon arrival and working your way down to the bottom floor. The New Museum’s show, "Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America," spans three floors of the museum, giving much-needed space to the multidisciplinary exploration of what the museum describes as “the concept of mourning, commemoration, and loss as a direct response to the national emergency of racist violence experienced by Black communities across America.”
Artworks by 37 intergenerational and canonical Black artists are featured in this powerful exhibition that feels even more meaningful when you learn it was curated by the late Okwui Enwezor, a visionary curator who was critical in helping many of these now very famous artists get their start. The exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, collages, audio installations, and many works of mixed media.
The 97 artworks are laden with the traumatic history of violence against Black people in America and the further complications of expressions of white grievance – they are complicated and emotional artworks that take time to absorb. As I walked through the exhibition, I experienced at some moments gut-wrenching sadness or a burning rage, at others a call to political action or the faith in the fragile possibility of rebirth.
I found it nice to go with a friend — I needed the space to reflect, question, and talk about it afterward. This exhibition is moving and historic; do not miss it. The artists included are some of the most important working artists in contemporary times. If you'd like to know more about some of the contemporary artists included in the show, I encourage watching these videos by Art21. These videos provide great context before visiting or allow you to dive deeper after visiting.
After spending some time at the exhibition, go across the street to Plantshed for a coffee or tea. It is a peaceful space where you can sit and reflect on the show with a friend.