The Escalette Collection of Art is thrilled to announce the launch of its first entirely virtual exhibition: Begin/Again: Marking Black Memories in conjunction with Wilkinson College’s Engaging the World: Leading the Conversation on Race, Fall 2020 initiative. Featuring the work of Mark Bradford, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Ivan Forde, Maya Freelon and Manuel Mendive, this exhibition explores how memories (both personal and historical) are reshaped and reimagined by contemporary Black artists in the Escalette Permanent Collection of Art. These works will also be displayed in Roosevelt Hall when possible.


About this Exhibit

Using a virtual platform has allowed us to share more about the artists, their work, and their ideas than would have been possible with a physical exhibition. Here are some unique features of Begin/Again: 

  • Using links, videos, and call-out boxes, this virtual experience invites visitors to follow some of the strands of thought that each artist carefully wove into the fabric of their work.
  • Most importantly, this digital format allows us to foreground the voices of the artists themselves. Through video interviews and extended quotations from essays, this virtual exhibit serves as a platform for these five artists to share their experiences and thoughts in their own words.
  • Lastly, our virtual exhibition allows you, the visitor, to participate in the ongoing dialogue surrounding these artists and their works. We encourage you to share your questions, thoughts, or memories using the comment bubble icon at the bottom of each page. These reflections can be as personal or academic, informal or formal, as you’d like, and can take whatever form (whether short paragraph, poem, video, artwork, etc.) that best expresses your idea.
Colorful print by Maya Freelon

Maya Freelon, Begin/Again, spinning tissue ink monoprint, 2017. Purchased with funds from the Escalette Endowment.

Exhibit Introduction

Memory runs like an aquifer beneath the works of the five artists in this exhibition, a storehouse for the life-giving substance that sustains and shapes the landscape of their artistic practice. Sometimes the water lies just below the surface; for Mark Bradford and Maya Freelon, the memories are of a mother, a beloved grandmother, and vibrant African American community traditions. Sometimes the water table is deep underground. Rotimi Fani-Kayode and Manuel Mendive draw on African cultural and spiritual traditions centuries old. Ivan Forde, looking to the Epic of Gilgamesh, reaches back millennia to tap into a wellspring of inspiration. All five artists mark memories in the sense of honoring them as well as literally manifesting them in their visual artworks. Bringing personal and shared memories to the surface, this work bears witness, confronts, replenishes, and sustains.

This exhibition is titled Begin/Again after a work in the Escalette Collection by Maya Freelon. At a time when we confront a wasteland and the possibility of substantive change seems to move further away, these two words are more important than ever. Memories—uncovered, examined, and offered in an act of faith that we can indeed move forward—allows us to Begin/Again.


Begin/Again: Marking Black Memories is curated by Lindsay Shen and Jessica Bocinski. Support is generously provided by the Ellingson Family, the Phyllis and Ross Escalette Permanent Collection of Art, and Wilkinson College of Art, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Animation provided by Wilkinson College’s Ideation Lab students. 


We invite you to explore all the works in the Escalette Collection by visiting our eMuseum

Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences is the proud home of the Phyllis and Ross Escalette Permanent Collection of Art. The Escalette Collection exists to inspire critical thinking, foster interdisciplinary discovery, and strengthen bonds with the community. Beyond its role in curating art in public spaces, the Escalette is a learning laboratory that offers diverse opportunities for student and engagement and research, and involvement with the wider community. The collection is free and open to the public to view.