2021 HBI Artist Exhibition

Marla McLeod | We the People (Our Love Will See Us Through)

August 2 - October 29, 2021 

black background with mannequin wearing natural cotton color handmade gown with hand painted black text
The Kniznick Gallery is proud to present a solo exhibition by Connecticut-based artist Marla McLeod. “We the People (Our Love Will See Us Through)” touches on the diversity of McLeod’s practice, juxtaposing larger-than-life portrait painting with handmade textiles and garments. The exhibition explores the false and pervasive narratives surrounding Black bodies, while re-presenting the historical figures and characterizations of James Baldwin, W.E.B. Du Bois, and the harmful stereotype of the “mammy.” “We the People” populates the gallery and collective imagination with updated historical representations of the figures, featuring pronounced symbols of pride for Black Americans.

With large-scale presence, McLeod’s figurative oil paintings address the absence of Black women as the subject of paintings throughout Western art history. She pairs the portraits with textile pieces, inspired by techniques, symbols, and traditions of Mali mud cloths. In these works, the artist develops a visual language through delicate details and intricate beadwork to acknowledge each model’s nuanced cultural identity, including inscribed words of protection from their mothers.

McLeod’s research into the various figures and subjects that have influenced the work--drag and ballroom culture, African textiles, and Black identity in America--becomes a quest of cultural and familial lineage and the recognition of herself within it. Throughout the exhibition, fragments of text and quotations become mediums for self-empowerment for the artist and her viewers. The title references a song on Nina Simone’s 1964 album “Broadway-Blues-Ballads.” Simone sang, “If some tears come our way, the sun skips a day, we still have each other, and our love will see us through.” In the midst of the weighted histories that have contributed to generations of dangerous perceptions surrounding Black bodies, McLeod’s approach mirrors this signal of hope.


Artist Lecture | Marla McLeod

September 14, 2021

5:30 - 7 pm (EST)

Marla McLeod will discuss her work in "We the People (Our Love Will See Us Through)" and the concepts embedded in her portrait paintings and hand-sewn garments on display. The event will be in hybrid format; guests are welcome to attend in-person or virtually via ZOOM. Registration is required for both in-person and virtual attendance. In-person guests will be required to follow Brandeis' COVID-19 guidelines


Seeing through Generations: A Dark Room Conversation with Marla McLeod

October 19, 2021

5:30 - 7 pm (EST)

Brandeis WSRC Resident Scholar K. Melchor Quick Hall hosts a virtual conversation between Kimberly Juanita Brown, convener of The Dark Room Faculty Seminar on Race and Visual Studies, and Marla McLeod. During the talk, McLeod will discuss her "We the People (Our Love Will See Us Through)" exhibit, on display at the WSRC August 2 - October 29, 2021. In this conversation, Brown and McLeod will engage in a conversation that considers how forms of telling history and exploring visual culture surround Black bodies. 

register for the virtual event

Kniznick Gallery | Open Saturday

October 23, 2021

12 - 4 pm (EST)

Join us for a Saturday viewing of the exhibition, hosted by Marla McLeod. Registration is required. Visitors will be required to follow Brandeis' COVID-19 guidelines