Definitional Difficulty: What Is A Crown?

What is a crown? You would think that defining your everyday noun is an easy task. Turns out it’s not. Take for instance a crown. This object serves as the primary symbol of Shani Peters’ installation. When I try to describe it, I struggle to come up with a coherent definition Wowthat doesn’t sound like verbal gobbledy-goop. A reason for my struggle might be that most words are more complex than they initially seem, carrying multiple connotations. Historically, crowns symbolized monarchic power. The wearer of a crown, a king or queen, was empowered by donning the ornate headpiece. For many in the population who were disenfranchised, crowns stood for oppressive government control. Instead of power being invested in a ruler by the will of the people, the crown symbolized an unjust division of power. The crown, in the royal sense, does not function in current U.S. culture as it did historically in monarchies or totalitarian societies. Continue reading

The Crown in the Classroom

Part theory, part experiential was the description given to us, the students of “Black Art, White Cube”, by Professor Ray Silverman on the first day of class in January. RayThis blog post is a reflection on the relationship between The Crown and the students of Afro-American and African Studies 458: “Black Art, White Cube”; the classroom: ours. The Crown provided our class with a learning experience. The exhibitions in GalleryDAAS and the Institute for the Humanities Gallery served not only as a way to engage in debates surrounding difficult issues in contemporary art (and its relationship to the modern display, the ‘White Cube’). Continue reading

20 Thoughts When Visiting Shani Peters’ The Crown

  1. Ohh, this is Gallery DAAS?
  2. Check out the red curtains! I feel like I’m on stage.
  3. These photographs are amazing. Some of these crowns look familiar, but others I’ve never seen before. I wonder what that’s about.
  4. Found a text panel! Let’s see what this all means.
  5. The title comes from a Gary Byrd song. Must look that up immediately.pair
  6. This song is super catchy. Never getting that out of my head.
  7. Self-determination for minority students?
  8. Ohhh, like crowning yourself. Clever! Except challenging what identities we use to crown ourselves… and especially how pursuing a college degree affects minority students. (Pondering)
  9. I should go back to the photographs now that I have a clue what this is about.
  10. I wish I could have taken my school yearbook photos like this—no facial details, just my silhouette and a shiny crown. There would have been no stressing about what I looked like!
  11. Okay now I can go over to the curtain part of this exhibit.
  12. Hey, another text panel!
  13. Woah this woman has exhibited in a lot of places. She showed stuff in Zimbabwe? She was featured in the New York Times? Am I looking at the work of the next Big Name in art?

— Lauren Plawecki

Based on a True Story.

Based on a true story.  But, trust me, you’re not going to believe it.

Chameleon Street tells the life story of William Douglas Street, a master manipulator who manages to fool everyone in his life, even those closest to him, by reinventing himself over and chameleon.streetover again. Throughout the film, Street transforms himself from a surgeon (who actually performs surgery), to a student at Yale (filmed on University of Michigan’s campus), to a Times reporter, to a lawyer; continuing to run from his true identity as a Black man even after he is arrested (twice). And, yes, it is a true story.
Continue reading