End of an Illusion

On view in the Post-1950s Gallery

A complimentary exhibition to Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance featuring works from the permanent collection and additional loans that highlight artists and objects that were influential to visual artist Stephen Towns.

In the United States, the institution of race-based slavery, activated by the myth of Black inferiority, served to establish the young nation’s economic, political, and infrastructural foundations. Even after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, those entities that had benefited from forced, free labor, including the United States government, American industries, and American financial and educational institutions, sustained the abuse of black labor and promoted disinvestment in social and economic aspects of Black life. Nearly 150 years after the end of the Civil War, African Americans are still battling the cultural residue of white supremacy in the fight for equity and equality.

End of an Illusion brings together a diverse collection of works by artists from the 14th century to the current era. The presentation of these objects seeks to show common threads among works, to expose the hard truths that are often denied in written history, and to give our society the language not only to acknowledge its failings, but also to envision the possibility of a more just and equitable future. The exhibition also celebrates the efforts and initiatives of these artists, who frequently mustered the vision and courage needed to call out – in both quiet and direct ways – society’s deep flaws and the inequities embedded in its cultural practices. Their resistance to our flattened and distorted history activates truer realities and promotes new ways of existing in the world.

End of an Illusion is organized by The Westmoreland Museum of American Art with Guest Curator Kilolo Luckett.

All exhibitions are supported by the Hillman Exhibition Fund of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art. Free admission to exhibitions is generously supported by UPMC Health Plan.