Published August 11, 2021
Brooklyn-based artist Heather Hart will reconstruct the balcony where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in a new installation at UB Art Galleries, opening on Sept. 16 in the UB CFA Gallery.
“Heather Hart: Afrotecture (Re)Collection” launches a new line of inquiry by the artist and will serve as a gathering space for the UB and greater Buffalo communities. It will be on view in the gallery in the Center for the Arts through May 21, 2022.
The new commission is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and partnerships with Assembly House 150 and the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.
Known for creating life-size re-creations of rooftops and porches that visitors can walk, climb and gather on, Hart brings liminal spaces of African American culture into art and museum spaces. “Afrotecture (Re)Collection” moves her practice to an investigation into historically specific architectural spaces of African American history and memory.
Over the past two years, Hart has researched the history and architecture of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where King was assassinated in 1968. At UB Art Galleries, she will present an installation in which the motel balcony serves as a space for memorial, reflection, gathering and celebration, where visitors can move through and walk on the sculptural interpretation of the balcony.
At the center of the work is a question posed by Hart and Liz Park, UB Art Galleries curator of exhibitions: “How do we build a space of memory for ourselves and our communities in the future?”
Through August and September, Hart and UB Art Galleries will work with Assembly House 150, a nonprofit experiential learning center and community space for teaching and research in the construction arts, to build the exhibition. Art Galleries’ front-line staff, including student workers, will train in facilitated dialogue techniques with the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center to create an environment of inquiry and reflection in the galleries.
UB Art Galleries will host two town hall events on Aug. 12 to build more partnerships with the UB and Buffalo communities, and facilitate use of the galleries for class visits, programming and other gatherings. Contact Emily Reynolds, UB Art Galleries marketing manager, to join the town halls.
“It is our responsibility as an organization dedicated to art and ideas to engage with the platform that Heather has built to reflect, study, memorialize, as well as envision coalitions and social movements for the future,” Park says. “We look forward to working with our creative and thoughtful partners on and off campus to do this collective work.”
The exhibition will be accompanied by a free broadsheet publication featuring essays by Park; Charles L. Davis II, UB assistant professor of architectural history and criticism; and Henry Louis Taylor Jr., professor of urban and regional planning.
It is one of several UB Art Galleries exhibitions supported by a program grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.