Watch | The 42nd Annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series

Tyler Mitchell, Bisa Butler, Regina Carter, and Dominique Morisseau all foreground the themes of play, utopia, and performances in their work. 

Each through their works have interpreted this concept of “play”, one that starts in the fluid space of black childhood, as a way of re-imagining race, gender, history, and Black futurity in the world today. 

This re-imaging shaped by generations of African diasporic artists, musicians, scholars, and activists envisions a future void of violent oppression and sparks new possibilities of change in the present moment.


About Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series

The Annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture (MTW) series was co-founded in 1981 by Rutgers University-Newark Professor Clement A. Price and Giles R. Wright of the New Jersey Historical Commission who launched the series with the belief that the rigorous exploration of the past, made accessible to a broad public of learners, would help guide the nation into a brighter future. The conference is named in honor of a native of East Orange. Marion Thompson Wright was arguably the first black female professional historian and a pioneer in Black New Jersey historiography. In her honor, the series brings outstanding thinkers and doers of African and African American life and history. Diverse, civically engaged, and devoted to life-long learners, the MTW Series is one of the nation’s most distinguished and longest-running lectures. The Clement A. Price Institute is devoted to building deep historical justice in our region and beyond.

View Information on Past MTW Lectures


About Black Portraiture[s] 

Initially, a colloquium at Harvard University on African American art convened by Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Dr. Deborah Willis and Manthia Diawara at New York University held in Paris in 2013, Black Portraiture[s] is an academic conference committed to the study of African diasporic art and culture. Being held in cities as diverse as New York, Florence, Toronto, and Johannesberg, Black Portraiture[s] now attracts hundreds of scholars, artists, and activists from around the world at each convening.

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Black Portraitures VII: Play and Performance and the 42nd Annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series has been made possible by the generous support of The Ford Foundation, Rutgers University–Newark, A Long Walk Home, Black Girl Freedom Fund, the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Duggal Visual Solutions, HarbourView Foundation, The Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation at New York University, the Institute of African American Affairs/Center for Black Visual Culture at New York University, the Institute of the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers University, New Arts Justice, New Jersey Council for the Humanities, New Jersey Historical Commission, and Prudential Financial.


Partners: Newark Museum of Art, New Arts Justice, SHINE Portrait Studio, Paul Robeson Gallery, Project for Empty Space