On Refusal: Black Art and Mainstream Criticism 1989–1993

Curatorial Practice (MA) | Fine Arts Division
Vermes, OrlyCuratorial Practice (MA) (2020)
"The Theater of the Refusal: Black Art and Mainstream Criticism" was exhibited at the Fine Arts Gallery of the University of California, Irvine in April of 1993. Curated by the conceptual artist Charles Gaines, the exhibition showcased the work of African American artists, as well as excerpts of criticism they received from mainstream art critics in publications. The inclusion of this writing displayed how, in the early 1990s, black artists were called to inhabit a mainstream that actively positioned these same artists on the margins. Building from primary research and interviews, this thesis provides a historical account of "Theater of Refusal" and examines the contemporary resonance of this exhibition. 



  • Owner: Orly Vermes
  • Collection: Curatorial Practice (MA) Program
  • Version: 1 (show all)
  • Status: Live