Colgate’s Picker Art Gallery is proud to present the exhibition Nona Faustine: White Shoes, which is open through the spring semester. The series of images on display by Faustine, a Brooklyn-based artist, examines the history of slavery in New York City.
The artist’s full White Shoes series includes more than 40 self-portraits taken around the city, in locations important to the history of enslaved Africans. These include cemeteries and burial grounds, former plantations, and well-known tourist sites such as Central Park.
By inserting herself and her body into these places, Faustine says she is drawing attention to a history that has largely been ignored. New York City has been an example of progress and growth, a financial capital that represents possibility for so many. Faustine’s self-portraits give recognition to those whom the city left behind, embodying their forgotten presence.
Nick West, curator of Picker Art Gallery, said he wanted a series of works that would complement another exhibition now on display at Colgate: A Wicked Commerce: The U.S. and the Atlantic Slave Trade through the Lens of William Earle Williams. Williams’s exhibit is also on view at Colgate until May 2023. Williams’s work examines the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade in black and white. The images are printed smaller and done so in a way that he removes himself from the images. This contrasts with Faustine’s works, West explains, which are large and colorful, and show her boldly in each photograph. It creates a dialogue between the two exhibitions, each showcasing their powerful work on an often overlooked topic.
Faustine’s exhibition at Colgate includes seven of the photographs in the series, and each photograph is 40 by 60 inches, the largest she has ever displayed them. They are seen with other work from Picker Art Gallery’s permanent collection, curated by students. Audrey Chan ’23, Eliza Ge ’23, and Audrey Hong ’23 chose prints from the collection that address ideas about Black female representation from artists Atong Atem, Rosana Paulino, and Xaviera Simmons.
Both exhibitions are free and open to the public.