A Site of Struggle: American Art against Anti-Black Violence

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A Site of Struggle: American Art against Anti-Black Violence

January 26 - July 10


How has art been used to protest, processmourn, and memorialize anti-Black violence within the United States?

Originating at Northwestern’s Block Museum of Art  A Site of Struggle explores how artists have engaged with the reality of anti-Black violence and its accompanying challenges of representation in the United States over a 100 + year period.

Images of African American suffering and death have constituted an enduring part of the nation’s cultural landscape, and the development of creative counterpoints to these images has been an ongoing concern for American artists. A Site of Struggle takes a new approach to looking at the intersection of race, violence, and art by investigating the varied strategies American artists have used to grapple with anti-Black violence, ranging from representation to abstraction and from literal to metaphorical. The exhibition focuses on works created between the 1890s and 2013—situating contemporary artistic practice within a longer history of American art and visual culture. It foregrounds African Americans as active shapers of visual culture and highlights how art has been used to protest, process, mourn, and memorialize anti-Black violence.

Exhibition Frequently Asked Questions

Selected Resources

Group Visits

Exhibition Advisors and Partnerships

The themes, content, and format of A Site of Struggle have been developed in consultation with an interdisciplinary group of established and emerging scholars, museum professionals, and Northwestern faculty and graduate students. Participants are connected by their investigations of American art, visual culture, and African Americans’ production and representation within these fields.

Advised by leaders across Northwestern and within the Evanston community, The Block has engaged in dialogues with stakeholders that will continue throughout 2021 in order to shape visitor experience and co-develop collaborative programming on issues of racial justice. This work will enrich A Site of Struggle programming and will lay a foundation for our work into the future.

List of Exhibition Partners


Laylah Ali (American, b.1968), George Wesley Bellows (American, 1882-1925), George Biddle (American 1885-1973), Elizabeth Catlett (American, 1915-2012), Darryl Cowherd (American, b. 1940), Bob Crawford (American, 1938-2015), Ernest Crichlow (American, 1914-2005), David Antonio Cruz (American, b. 1974), Emory Douglas (American, b. 1943), Melvin Edwards (American, b. 1937), Theaster Gates (American, b. 1973), Ken Gonzales-Day (American, b. 1964), Wilmer Jennings (American, 1910-1990), Norman Lewis, (American, 1909-1979), Christian Marclay (American, b. 1955), Kerry James Marshall (American, b. 1955), Isamu Noguchi (American, 1904-1988), Mendi + Keith Obadike (American, b. 1973), Howardena Pindell (American b. 1943), Carl and Karen Pope (American, b. 1961), Walter Quirt (American, 1902-1968), Paul Rucker (American, b. 1968), Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960), Dox Thrash (American, 1893-1965), Molly Jae Vaughan (British, b. 1977), Lynd Ward (American, 1905–1985), Pat Ward Williams (American, b. 1948), Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953), Ida B. Wells (American, 1862-1931), Walter White (American, 1893-1955), Hale Woodruff (American, 1900-1980)

Free and Open to All

Wed – Fri 12-8PM / Sat & Sun 12-5PM / Closed Mon. & Tues.



January 26
July 10


The Block Museum