USF Contemporary Art Museum challenges racist monuments in new exhibit, “Marking Monuments”

On January 22nd, the USF Contemporary Art Museum, part of the Institute for Research in Art in the College of The Arts, launches the hybrid exhibition titled Marking Monuments in both online and physical spaces. Engaging with the global dialogues confronting colonialist and racist monuments, markers and memorials in public space, Marking Monuments presents a selection of artists’ installations and interventions that challenge, erase and transform dominant histories, offering reimagined representations for equity in public culture. Marking Monuments includes projects by Ariel René JacksonJoiri MinayaJohn Sims, and Karyn Olivier in collaboration with poet Trapeta B. Mayson.

Marking Monuments also features Field Trip, a community-engaged activity conceived by Philadelphia-based public art and history studio Monument LabField Trip invites investigation into local monuments in any community, generates questions about art and justice in public space, and seeks proposals for new ideas for monuments. Accessible both online and in-person at the USF Contemporary Art Museum, the hands on activity guide can be conducted safely in public space or from home using Street View, Google Earth or other online tools. Public participants are encouraged to share their ideas, questions, and photos from their Field Trip with Monument Lab on social media by tagging @Monument_Lab and using #MonumentLabFieldTrip to connect with others.

Marking Monuments is curated by Sarah Howard and organized by the USF Contemporary Art Museum. 


Ariel René Jackson (b. 1991) works across film, sculpture and performance, exploring land and landscape as sites of internal representation. Their work is centered in investigations of ancestral memory and knowledge and informed by Jackson’s research on economic and social systems of segregation, cultivating intergenerational dialogues around themes of loss, transformation and growth.

Trapeta B. Mayson (b. 1967) is a Liberian-born poet, teacher and licensed social worker. The City of Philadelphia 2020-2021 Poet Laureate, Mayson’s work shines light on and honors the immigrant experience and amplifies the experience of community life as a catalyst to mobilize, build and create social transformation.

Joiri Minaya (b. 1990) is a U.S. born and Dominican-raised multidisciplinary artist living and working in New York City. Her practice confronts historic and contemporary representations of black and brown womanhood, tropical identity, and the Gaze in order to decolonize and subvert imposed histories, and hierarchical representations of culture.

Karyn Olivier (b. 1968) is a Philadelphia-based artist and educator who creates public art, sculpture, and installations that expose social, political, and economic contradictions, and the residue of slavery in contemporary culture. Olivier has created large-scale commissioned work for Monument Lab, Creative Time, and New York City and Philadelphia’s Percent for Art programs. She has exhibited at the Gwangju and Busan Biennials (South Korea); World Festival of Black Arts and Culture (Dakar, Senegal); The Studio Museum in Harlem; The Whitney Museum of Art (NYC) ; MoMA PS1 (Queens, NY); and The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, among others. 

John Sims (b. 1968)is a Detroit native and Sarasota-basedartist, writer and social justice activist whose interdisciplinary creative practice expands to installation, text, film, music and performance projects. Informed by mathematics, design theory, sacred symbols and the power of poetic and political text, Sims has been actively challenging white supremacy and confronting Confederate iconography and commemoration for the past two decades through long-term multimedia projects, annual public performances, and political op-eds. Sims is currently the 2020-21 Artist in Residence at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (Sarasota, FL). 

Monument Lab is a public art and history studio based in Philadelphia. Monument Lab works with artists, students, educators, activists, municipal agencies, and cultural institutions on participatory approaches to public engagement and collective memory. Founded by Paul Farber and Ken Lum in 2012, Monument Lab cultivates and facilitates critical conversations around the past, present, and future of monuments.

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