Don’t Know Much About History
November 18, 2006—January 20, 2007
When Sam Cooke wrote Wonderful World in 1960 he claimed, “don’t know much about history.” Instead, Cooke sand the virtues of love, stating that “but I do know that I love you/and I know that if you love me too/ what a wonderful world this would be”. The artist in this exhibition do know much about history, they love it, and well, what a wonderful world that is.
So here, the “don’t know much” points not to the artists but the viewers, the general American public for whom history seems to slip through their fingers, becoming cobwebs at the back of their minds. For too many, history is a thing that we would rather ignore than confront. To counteract this blindness, the 16 artists in this exhibition force us to re-acknowledge history and bring it back to the forefront of our minds, teaching us to love it, to question it and, most importantly, to know it. For without knowing history how can we responsibly exist in the present?
Though much of history is forgotten, we are at a crux where important and frightening events are happening on a daily basis. As a result of this unforgettable historic impasse, there is a trend in artists returning to history to make sense of the present. A selection of these artists make up Don’t Know Much About History, and do so by approaching topics such as historic painting, the relationship of history to art, how historic events relate to the present, and how history serves as a commentary on contemporary society. Within these categories the artists then branch out, revealing the present through the past.