Titus Kaphar is an artist whose paintings, sculptures, and installations examine the history of representation by transforming its styles and mediums with formal innovations to emphasize the physicality and dimensionality of the canvas and materials themselves. His work, Flay (James Madison), is the centerpiece of Unsettling Histories: Legacies of Slavery and Colonalism, UMMA’s reinstallation of our gallery of eighteenth century European and American art. Through the acts of shredding, cutting, shrouding, tarring, erasing, breaking and nailing, Kaphar’s portrait of James Madison sheds light on unspoken truths in our country’s history, examining how histories have been rewritten, distorted, reimagined, and understood.
Kaphar’s commitment to social engagement has led him to move beyond traditional modes of artistic expression to establish NXTHVN. NXTHVN is a new national arts model that empowers emerging artists and curators of color through education and access. Through intergenerational mentorship, professional development, and cross-sector collaboration, NXTHVN accelerates professional careers in the arts. Now in its second year of operation, NXTHVN encourages artists, art professionals, and local entrepreneurs to expand New Haven’s growing creative community.
Kaphar received an MFA from the Yale School of Art and is a distinguished recipient of numerous prizes and awards including a 2018 MacArthur Fellowship, a 2018 Art for Justice Fund grant, a 2016 Robert R. Rauschenberg Artist as Activist grant, and a 2015 Creative Capital grant. His work is included in the collections of Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, AK; the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Miami, FL; The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, NY; the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the MET), New York, NY, amongst others.
Presented in partnership with The University of Michigan Museum of Art as part of the 2023 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium, with support from the U‑M Arts Initiative, U‑M Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and U‑M Democracy & Debate. Series presenting partners: Detroit Public Television and PBS Books. Media partner: Michigan Radio.
In accordance with the University of Michigan’s Standard Practice Guidelines on Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression, the Penny Stamps Speaker Series does not censor our speakers or their content. The content provided is intended for adult audiences and does not reflect the views of the University of Michigan or Detroit Public Television.