From monuments to mug shots, this body of work seeks to collapse the line of American history to inhabit a fixed point in the present. Historical portraiture, mug shots, and YouTube stills challenge viewers to consider how we document the past, and what we have erased. Rather than explore guilt or innocence, Kaphar engages the narratives of individuals and how we as a society manage and define them over time. As a whole, this exhibition explores the power of rewritten histories to question the presumption of innocence and the mythology of the heroic.
Kaphar received an MFA from the Yale School of Art and is the distinguished recipient of the Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship. In 2016, he was named the Artist as Activist Fellow: Racial Justice + Mass Incarceration by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and in 2015 he was awarded a Creative Capital Grant for the Visual Arts. Kaphar’s work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at MoMA PS1; the Studio Museum in Harlem; the Seattle Art Museum; and the Savannah College of Art and Design. His work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum; Pérez Art Museum Miami; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, among others.
Kaphar’s ambitious installation, The Vesper Project, is currently on view at the Lowe Art Museum in Miami, the last stop on a tour that also included at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio; the Katzen Arts Center at American University, Washington, DC; and the New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut.