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Sharing Space with Authority: Proposals for Installing the Berea College Presidential Portraits

A seemingly simple task, to reinstall the Berea College presidential portraits, is actually wrapped up in a complicated dialogue –one that does not exist solely on college campuses, but in museums, academic buildings, and public spaces nationally and globally. How do we make every person who encounters a space feel welcome? How do we return spaces to those who had said spaces taken from them? Internationally, monuments are being toppled, murals are being covered, and buildings are being renamed in response to these questions. Careful consideration of this dialogue has led us to think critically about the reinstallation of our own presidential portraits. Being hung on the wall of a building can give the portraits power over the surrounding space, and, as numerous interviews have revealed, this power dynamic creates an unwelcoming atmosphere for some students, faculty, staff, and visitors more broadly.

In order to begin the process of answering these difficult questions, we will be holding a community event in the Berea College Alumni Building’s Baird Lounge. During this event, we welcome and encourage community members, whether that be the college community or community of the surrounding area, to give us your thoughts on how you feel in such a space and what you would want done with these portraits.

Curator Jennifer Reynolds-Kaye will also be giving a talk during the community event.


Exhibition Run: October 28 – February 1, 2019
Community Event: Thursday, November 21, at 4:00pm, in the Alumni Building’s Baird Lounge

Image: Digitally Altered Image