On Friday (February 26) we hosted a closing reception at the Fine Arts Library for the display of Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.’s artist’s books and prints from the Special Collections. Vaughan Hennen, the curator, gave a brief talk about Kennedy’s background and the objects in the cases. After, he opened up the floor for a moment of silence and a Q&A/discussion. We also set up a table with additional books and prints so that the public could get a closer look. Kristina Keogh, our past head, and Jasmine Burns, our interim head, managed to hook us up with some catered desserts and coffee for the event. In the end, I think the program went well and Vaughan killed it.
Kennedy’s works were perfect for (1) celebrating Black History Month, (2) exposing the continual bureaucratic nonsense at IU, and (3) the lack of diversity in academia. As the only black faculty member in the Fine Arts Department during his time here, he exposed the injustices in both our school and society in general. He made sure that those he criticized were aware of his political statements by mailing them personalized prints. Kennedy is still active today. His Instagram is updated fairly regularly.
I’m happy to see that we got so much support from our peers. A lot of fellow students from our Library Science program attended. Though we didn’t have any members from the Black Graduate Student Association give a presentation, I was happy to see that some of them were present. I would really love to see SALS continue to collaborate with other student organizations, especially outside of our department. We also had some community members who knew Kennedy personally, including B.J. Irvine, the first head of the Fine Arts Library and the person responsible for establishing the artists’ books collection here.
We’re hoping to put on another display for the Midwest Art Cataloging Discussion Group meeting in October (to be hosted by IU). Next semester’s themester is beauty, but Vaughan and I were in talks about pulling controversial materials relating to death and burial practices from the Special Collections. “Beautiful decay”?