Two women standing together

Deana Lawson, 'Barbara and Mother,' (detail) 2017, inkjet print, courtesy of the artist

Deana Lawson

Forum Gallery

Forum 80

“With a history of certain voices not being included in the history of art, I think it is time to claim that space, to have bodies who might not have been celebrated within the institution,” -Deana Lawson on museums, TIME.com

The 80th entry in CMOA’s Forum contemporary art series presents a combination of photographs and appropriated-image installations by Deana Lawson (b. 1979, lives and works in Brooklyn, New York).

Few photographers working today unpack complexities of race and identity like Deana Lawson. Her strikingly-arranged portraits are packed with details that invite contemplation and close inspection. Lawson depicts people and interiors she encounters in her daily routines and travels, from her own neighborhood in Brooklyn to Soweto, South Africa, and beyond. She also appropriates photographs from other sources to address depictions of African Americans in media and visual culture. The exhibition includes 10 photographs, printed in the largest size ever for the artist. Their life-size scale affords scrutiny of the carpeting, clothing, furniture, hair, and jewelry that impact our perceptions—and perhaps biases—about people and their stories.

Deana Lawson also features photographic installations that burst out of the traditional picture frame and onto the exhibition walls. Lawson taps a variety of sources, including mass media and photo libraries, to explore how images in contemporary visual culture shape perceptions and stereotypes of people and communities. Each one is site-specific to CMOA and meticulously assembled by the artist in response to the museum and its local context.

CMOA’s Forum series hosts diverse artists working on innovative projects in our Forum Gallery, located in the main lobby of the museum. For over 25 years, the series has offered our curators a dynamic space to show new developments in contemporary art.

Deana Lawson is organized by Dan Leers, curator of photography at Carnegie Museum of Art.


Exhibition Credits

Major funding for the Forum series is generously provided by the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation. Additional support for this exhibition is provided by the Marty McGuinn Art Exhibition Fund.

General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. The programs of the Heinz Architectural Center are made possible by the generosity of the Drue Heinz Trust. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.