Becoming: Photographs from the Wedge Collection was a significant exhibition, well suited for Durham and rare for a regional art museum, featuring more than 100 original photographic portraits of people of color.
The portraits were taken over the past 100 years by more than 60 global artists. In some of the portraits, the subjects have little or no control over the way they were depicted; in others, the subjects become increasingly involved with the photographer. All of the artists reject a common tendency to view black communities in terms of conflict or stereotype. Becoming included studio portraitists (Malick Sidibé, James VanDerZee), social documentarians (Milton Rogovin, Jürgen Schadeberg), conceptual artists (Hank Willis Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems) and young contemporary artists whose work is largely unknown in this country (Zanele Muholi, Viviane Sassen).
The work was on loan from the collection of Dr. Kenneth Montague, who organized the exhibition. Montague, a dentist based in Toronto, has collected contemporary art since the 1990s. He grew up in the Canadian border town of Windsor, where he was influenced by the African American culture across the river, in Detroit.
Becoming was complemented by free programs, including a curator conversation with Kenneth Montague and Trevor Schoonmaker, Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art; a Family Day event, a talk by celebrated English filmmaker and artist John Akomfrah and screening of his film Mnemosyne and a First Thursday gallery talk by Richard J. Powell, Duke’s John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History. Students at Duke and North Carolina Central University organized an Art for All event to celebrate NCCU Art Museum’s concurrent exhibition Let Your Motto Be Resistance with refreshments, live music and buses between both university art museums.
Becoming was supported by Paula and Eugene Flood, the Graduate Liberal Studies program at Duke University, and Gail Belvett, DDS.