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Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art

Doug Barrett: Find Your Voice

Gallery exhibition: September 7, 2021 – May 28, 2022
Virtual exhibition launch: September 30, 2021

I remember the first time photographer Doug Barrett’s work caught my attention. A post he created on June 10, 2020, on the social media platform Instagram showed the backs of people’s heads at Black Lives Matter protests in Junction City, Kansas. His unconventional vantage point highlighted the varied ways African Americans styled their hair. Accompanying the images were the following words: “Black is beautiful. We are a people rich in love and kindness. Sometimes it’s said our hair is nappy. We call it natural. It’s not a threat. … Stop letting our skin and hair scare you. … Yes, our hair may have a texture; yes, it may be coarse or may even be styled differently. … We are humans. It shouldn’t matter what we look like. We’re not a threat.”

As a person of Chinese descent, I could relate to Barrett’s description of African American hair. I, too, struggle with the idiosyncrasies of hair that is characteristic of my ethnic origin. Likewise, I identified with his account of harm caused by racially biased stereotypes. Barrett brings such acuity and authenticity to all three series featured in his first museum solo exhibition: Homeless Veteran Project, Yuma Street, and George Floyd Protest. The exhibition includes text written by Barrett to accompany each photograph. Barrett invested considerable time and energy embedding himself in his subjects’ lives and in getting to know them, just as his hero Gordon Parks did. Barrett also followed Parks’ example of telling a story through a combination of text and image. The results are works that distill universal truths of human experience from time- and place-specific stories, bringing to light with sincerity the shared humanity that connects all people.

— Aileen June Wang, Curator

Related event

Gallery conversation with artist Doug Barrett
In-person and livestream
Thursday, September 16, 2021, 5:30 p.m.

Platinum Major Sponsors: Art Bridges, The Alms Group, Beach-Edwards Family Foundation, Greater Manhattan Community Foundation’s Lincoln & Dorothy I. Deihl Community Grants Program
Silver Sponsors: Terry and Tara Cupps

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