Solo exhibition by photographer Kris Graves on display at Stein Galleries

George Floyd Projection, Richmond, Virginia, 2020, by Kris Graves

The Robert and Elaine Stein Galleries at Wright State University will host a solo exhibition by photographer Kris Graves examining Black representation in art and systemic racism.

Graves’ exhibition, titled “Truth and Ruin,” is on display from Oct. 18 to Dec. 3 in the Stein Galleries, 160 Creative Arts Center.

Graves will give an artist talk on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 6 p.m. in the galleries, with a reception to follow.

The Stein Galleries, in collaboration with the Bolinga Black Cultural Resources Center, will also host a closing reception and talk on “Black Political Thought and Antiracism: The Civic Radical Tradition” by Alex Zamalin on Thursday, Dec. 2, at 11:30 a.m.

Zamalin’s lecture will be held on Webex and include a live Q&A session. The Stein Galleries will host a viewing party and reception with complimentary boxed lunches. Space is limited. RSVP to attend the lecture at the gallery.

Kris Graves utilizes landscape and portrait photography to create a visual dialogue about Black representation and systemic racism. Graves attempts to cut through divisive rhetoric and compel viewers to reflect on longstanding issues plaguing our communities, such as police violence against people of color and the dismantling or re-envisioning of racist monuments.

The portraits in “Truth and Ruin” are empowered and participatory for the subjects. Exhibited as a richly hued grid of images, the portraits emphasize the individuality of the subjects in addition to their Blackness while also inspiring the viewer to reflect on racism in America.

“More often than not Black people are portrayed in the extreme — either as very rich or very poor; they are demonized, infantilized, ridiculed, idolized or hyper-sexualized; and within the art canon there is a noticeable scarcity of Black representation,” Graves said.

The exhibition includes work from several series, including “The Testament Project,” an exploration of the contemporary Black experience in America.

Graves is based in New York and London and has been published and exhibited globally, including in the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Aperture Gallery in New York. His work is included in permanent collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Schomburg Center, Whitney Museum, Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Brooklyn Museum and The Wedge Collection in Toronto.

The Murder of Tamir Rice, Cleveland, Ohio, 2016, by Kris Graves

Graves serves as an adjunct professor at The New School/Parsons School of Design in New York and vice president of photography of The Architectural League of New York. He is a member of the board of Blue Sky Gallery, the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts, in Portland.

He was artist in residence at the Center for Photography at Woodstock in New York in 2020 and at Light Work in Syracuse in 2019. He received his B.F.A. in visual arts from S.U.N.Y. Purchase College.

Alex Zamalin is an associate professor of political science and the director of the African American Studies Program at the University of Detroit Mercy. His areas of expertise include African American political thought, American politics and political theory.

He is the author of several books including “Antiracism: An Introduction” and “Against Civility: The Hidden Racism in Our Obsession with Civility.”

“Truth and Ruin” is curated by Benjamin Montague, associate professor of photography.

The Stein Galleries collaborated with the Bolinga Black Cultural Resources Center on programming for Graves’ exhibition. Support has been provided by FotoFocus.

The Stein Galleries are open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m.; and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All gallery events are free and open to the public.

Everyone is required to wear a mask when inside all buildings on Wright State’s campuses, regardless of vaccination status.

For more information, contact the Stein Galleries at 937-775-2978 or visit

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