Art and the Black Body

(photo by Lindy Drew)

Our profound thanks to the panel: Kat, Kahlil, Dani, Kevin, MK, Vanity, Lyndon, and Rebecca for their profound truths this evening. Let us endeavor to deserve these truths through our actions in the days to come. Our thanks to all of you who came to this conversation with open hearts and ears, and to all who came also to speak their truth.

Artwork courtesy of Lizzy Martinez

Critical Conversations is a program by Critical Mass for the Visual Arts that strives to sustain important dialogues on art in St. Louis. When we began organizing this event (the sixth in an ongoing series) way back in June, we made this a partnership with the Contemporary Art Museum. Our committee planned then to form a panel discussion on Art and the Black Body in a much broader context than just Kelley Walker’s artwork. We did not intend –and do not now intend to— answer for Kelley Walker or CAM for hosting the exhibit.

Throughout the past several days, we at Critical Mass have been listening to our community and we see that some people wish to speak directly to their experience of the artist’s talk here last Saturday, and to talk about the long history between our local black community and St. Louis cultural institutions. To that end, we are going to follow this Critical Conversation with at least one future event. We will hold that planned broader conversation about Art and the Black Body at a later date and in a different location.

We want to provide an opportunity to center black critical voices around what people feel, think and want – – right here, right now.

We acknowledge that many people made their voices heard by NOT attending. We respect and appreciate that action and do not wish for this event to diminish those community members’ voices.

Related Press:

Hyperallergic- James McAnally

St. Louis Public Radio- Kelly Moffitt

Hyperallergic- Damon Davis

St. Louis Magazine- Chris Naffziger

St. Louis American- Kenya Vaughn

St. Louis Magazine – Stefene Russel

St. Louis Public Radio– Willis Rider Arnold and Jenny Simeone

St. Louis American– Chris King

Hyperallergic– Claire Voon

Artnet News – Brian Boucher


This panel features:

wanzo_1.jpg Dr. Rebecca Wanzo

Associate Professor, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Associate Director, Center for Humanities


Katherine Reynolds

Artist who specializes in portraiture and architectural photography. Her recent shows include SOFTen at Museum Blue, Ask Her How She’s Doing at Fort Gondo, and The Divide at Blank Space.



Lyndon Barrois Jr. 

Artist, museum educator, and visual arts professor. His recent exhibitions include For the Benefit of Man at the Garwood Gallery, Float at Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, and Of Color for the Great Rivers Biennial.


Kahlil Irving

Artist and MFA student. Recent shows include Functionality at the Edwardsville Art Center, Yet Unfulfilled at the Reese Gallery, and Designated Areas at the Delmar Loop Gallery.

 headshot1  Vanity Gee

Director of Community Programs and Grand Center Operations at Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design , educator, musician, and cultural curator.

MK Stallings

Founder of UrbArts , poet, columnist for the, and co-host of Literature for the Halibut on KDHXtra.


Dani and Kevin McCoy

Make up WORK/PLAY, an interdisciplinary design duo. Their recent shows include Printmaking in St. Louis at the Sheldon Galleries, Art.Work at Westminster Press, and Empowerpoint at the Luminary.

You may find the event also on facebook.

Critical Conversations seeks to spark revolution in the St. Louis Artworld. We aim to strengthen vital connections between individuals, institutions, spaces and creative communities, and to set the stage for profound criticism and discussion on a wide range of topics. We inspire action through increased understanding, agency and accountability among creatives, administrators, academics and critics.