Lawrence Matthews III: The Marketing of Perception Will Explore Race and Image

February 4, 2016- The exhibition Lawrence Matthews III: The Marketing of Perception will be on display at the Martha and Robert Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art at the University of Memphis Feb. 15-March 4. There will be an opening reception Friday, Feb. 19, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The exhibit features Matthews' recent work exploring issues of race, image and appropriation. Derived from cigarette and alcohol advertisements in issues of Ebony magazine from the 1960s and '70s, the artist's vibrant photographs of African-American men and women, featured out of their original context, provoke questions of image-making on both literal and figurative levels. Stemming from Matthews' recent foray into photography, the exhibition also includes his trademark video installations comprised of analog televisions playing commercials from the period.

"In college, I began to collect copies of Ebony from the 1960s and '70s," Matthews says. "I was amazed by the progressiveness of the articles, as well as the beautiful photography in the ads. They portrayed black people as intelligent and successful members of society. However, I began to notice nearly all of these ads were for liquor and cigarettes. Brands I'd known as stereotypically "black," such as Newport, Seagrams, Hennessy and Salem, were repeated throughout the pages. I started to wonder why products known to be harmful were featured so prominently in a magazine existing to uplift black Americans."

Matthews' close zoom brings to the forefront products once subtly placed in everyday scenes, while his deliberate cropping removes the ad copy that once surrounded these images. His photographs take on new meaning as stand-alone images of cool, sexy, powerful and respectable individuals, yet under their veneer, also allude to a contentious, racialized history of corporate power and blighted communities.

Matthews was born in Memphis in 1991. His work ranges from painting, collage, photography and ready-made sculpture to music and film. Matthews received his bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Memphis in 2014. His work has been included in multiple solo and group exhibitions around the Mid-South, including Caritas Village, Circuitous Succession Gallery, David Lusk Gallery and Crosstown Arts, among others. He has received numerous grants and awards including Best of Show at UofM's 31st Annual Juried Student Exhibition in 2014, the Dean's Creative Achievement Award and Department of Art Creative Achievement Award in 2015.

The Martha and Robert Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art are located in the Art and Communication Building, rooms 230 and 240. They are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is always free.

For more information, contact fogelmangalleries@memphis.edu or 901.678.3052.

Contact: Kimberly Rogers