Two women, dressed in black, kiss under an imposing portrait of Harriet Tubman. A man seated on the edge of a bed, a sheet stuck to the window, watches a preacher on television. An officer looks in a bedroom mirror, the reflection cracked, a white doll watching him from the pillows.
In his panoramic cycle “Bread, Butter and Power” (2016-18), painter Meleko Mokgosi explores how gender roles, in particular gendered divisions of labor, intersect with issues of class, ethnicity and education. The cycle, which includes 21 paintings, includes only one chapter of Mokgosi’s eight-part epic “Democratic Intuition” (2013-2019), which uses the scale and tropes of cinema and painting. history to explore “the daily experiences of the Black Subject, both in the American context and in Southern Africa.”
This fall, Mokgosi will be the 2021-2022 Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Teaching Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis. The scholarship, which is jointly sponsored by the Saint Louis Art Museum and the university’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, is designed to promote the creation and exhibition of contemporary art as well as the teaching of the principles of contemporary art.
“We are delighted to welcome Meleko,” said Amy Hauft, principal of Sam Fox School’s College and the Graduate School of Art. “In addition to his extraordinary dexterity and his qualities as a thinker and creator, he is an exceptional teacher. Our students anticipate his workshop visits and seminar plans, and our entire community looks forward to his presence on campus.
Patricia Olynyk, Florence and Frank Bush art professor at Sam Fox School, who co-chaired the Freund Research Committee, added that “Mokgosi’s large-scale cinematic paintings address topical and relevant themes related to fixed notions about colonialism, its results, and the complex ways in which democracy unfolds. His work also sheds light on the lived experiences of colonized individuals, in particular those who occupy southern Africa. I am very happy that Meleko is joining our community this fall.
The Freund Teaching Fellowship is funded by the Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Endowment Fund. Mokgosi will participate in a variety of lectures, seminars and studio reviews with students from the Graduate School of Art. In addition, he will create a new body of work for a solo exhibition as part of the museum’s Currents series.
“At the museum, we are all very excited to welcome Meleko as the next Freund Fellow,” said Hannah Klemm, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum. “Meleko’s innovative works of art examine the complexity of the lived experiences of black individuals in the United States and southern Africa, helping us to rethink the tradition of historic European compositions. His practice skillfully explores notions of colonialism, democracy and liberation. We look forward to presenting these works to our audiences.
Born in 1981 in Francistown, Botswana, Mokgosi grew up in the town of Maun. After moving to the United States in 2003, he received his bachelor’s degree from Williams College in Massachusetts and participated in the independent studies program at the Whitney Museum of American Art, both in 2007. He received his master’s degree in fine art. -arts of the Interdisciplinary Studio Program at the University of California Los Angeles in 2011 and was Artist in Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem from 2011 to 2012. Associate Professor at the Yale School of Art in New Haven, Mokgosi is Co-Director of graduate studies in painting / engraving.
Mokgosi’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including recent solo exhibitions at the Pérez Art Museum Miami; the Williams College Art Museum; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art; the Fowler Museum at UCLA; and the Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles, among others.
Other exhibitions include the Gothenburg International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Sweden and the 12th Lyon Biennale in France, as well as group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum; The Studio Museum in Harlem; the California African American Museum and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco; the National Library of Cameroon; and the National Museum and Art Gallery in Gaborone, Botswana.
His work is in the collections of the Pérez Art Museum, the Baltimore Art Museum, the Hammer Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, among others.
Saint-Louis Art Museum
The Saint Louis Art Museum is one of the leading comprehensive art museums in the country with collections comprising works of art of exceptional quality from virtually all cultures and eras. Areas of notable depth include oceanic art, pre-Columbian art, ancient Chinese bronzes, and late 19th and 20th century European and American art, with particular strengths in 20th century German art. The museum offers a full range of exhibitions and educational programs generated independently and in collaboration with local, national and international partners.
Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts
Sam Fox School supports the creation, study and exhibition of multidisciplinary and collaborative works. Offering a rigorous education in art, architecture and design at the undergraduate and graduate levels, the Sam Fox School connects four academic units – the College of Art, the Graduate School of Art, the College of Architecture and the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design – with the nationally recognized Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.