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Kerry James Marshall

The Renaissance Society

Prompted by a souvenir—a fringed, black-felt banner with portraits of Martin Luther King and John and Robert Kennedy reproduced here in a small painting—Kerry James Marshall examined the commemoration of ’60s activism in “Mementos,” a complex installation of paintings, sculptures, video, photographs, and prints. Three works actually bear the title Souvenir: nine-by-thirteen-foot unstretched canvases depicting middle-class living rooms with a kind of charged stillness. Each is watched over by a solitary African-American woman, modeled on a friend or family member of the artist, with glittering wings. The details of their homes have been recorded—vases, objets d’art, furniture, drapery, carpets—as if minute observation could render the process of their, and Marshall’s, recollection visible. What these guardian angels protect appears at the top of each painting, a frieze of gauzy clouds from

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