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The exhibition of 100+ works from the Doug McCraw Collection is an original presentation by the Museum, and was curated by Kathleen Goncharov, the Museum’s Senior Curator.

The works explore themes of survival, exposure, concealment, exploitation, race, and cultural-defining design.

They include still photography and installations, capturing moments that transcend boundaries of insight, and reveal how fabricated myths can shape our perceptions and distort our beliefs.

Doug McCraw is the co-founder of one of South Florida’s cultural gems: the FATVillage Arts District which is McCraw’s project that promotes creativity, artist residences, exhibitions, research, and education. McCraw loaned these 100+ works from his collection to the Boca Raton Museum, for this new exhibition.

“Myths, Secrets, Lies and Truths presents five distinct voices that delve into and illuminate so many aspects of life,” says Irvin Lippman, the Executive Director of the Boca Raton Museum of Art. “Our thanks to Doug McCraw who has built an extraordinary and stimulating collection that will facilitate insightful conversations.”

The Boca Raton Museum of Art is located at 501 Plaza Real in Mizner Park, a shopping, dining, entertainment, residential and arts district in downtown Boca Raton (map and directions).

Great for Juneteenth: Works by Sheila Pree Bright

From her series”Young Americans”

Sheila Pree Bright presents works from her Young Americans series, in which she invited young people, of all backgrounds and in cities across the country, to pose with the flag in ways that felt comfortable (while recording their personal stories of what the flag means to each of them).

Bright wanted this series to focus on diverse young Americans who are new to the voting system, and who are still exploring ideas of what it means to be American. In some ways, this series by Bright may be the most timely of the exhibition, due to the impending elections and the pivotal youth vote.

Bright has appeared in the 2016 feature-length documentary film “Election Day: Lens Across America.” The artist encouraged her subjects to use their own clothing, props and poses to “give them a platform to speak for themselves.”

The artist encouraged her subjects to use their own clothing, props and poses to “give them a platform to speak for themselves.”

Bright is often described as a “cultural anthropologist.” She especially wanted to examine the attitudes and values of Millennials/Generation Y, (people born in the 1980s through the late 1990s, most often the children of Baby Boomers).

The photographs in this series respond to negative portrayals of Millennials in our culture. Museumgoers will hear audio recordings alongside each photo, recordings of her subjects expressing their personal feelings toward the flag.

Works by Karen Graffeo:

Karen Graffeo’s Cuba series is part of an ongoing project expressing the beauty and inventiveness of a culture experiencing many challenges, hardships, and poverty.

She photographs moments of everyday life in Cuba with an eye to the vibrant designs, colors, patterns, and textures that reflect the unique spirit and aesthetics of the islanders.

Graffeo has traveled extensively, choosing to make work within cultures that both match and contrast her ancestry. She considers her art to be “cultural diplomacy devoted to trust and intersectionality, in service of story and raw, honest visual truth.”

One of Graffeo’s works in this exhibition is titled “Santero: saint maker,” taken in Cuba in 2020 (pictured below). This photo was honored with the Boynes Artist Award. The striking image is about Afro Cuban worship and pilgrimage rituals.

Also featured is Graffeo’s photograph titled “Roma girl: no ticket, train of life,” (pictured below). Since 1999, Graffeo has been documenting Roma populations, sometimes called “Gypsies.”

Through the lens of her camera, Graffeo has documented their culture at caravans, slums, housing projects, and refugee camps.

“It is the poorest of the poor who most need a voice,” says Graffeo. These photos follow the lives of the Roma in Romania and Italy, living in homes they are forced to build by hand from scavenged materials. In her photos, the artist strives to portray the courage and inspiring humanity of the Roma peoples.

Works by Liesa Cole:

Liesa Cole’s photographs, projections, and installations are about those who share secrets and those who keep them. Her works follow the theme that most people are uncomfortable sharing secrets unless they know they can trust someone to keep their confidence. Visitors will hear anonymous people telling secrets that can be funny, tragic, ridiculous, surprising, or sometimes raw and visceral.

The exhibition also features “Truth” (a blown glass neon sculpture by Cole, pictured right); her video titled “This is Life;” several archival photographs printed on metal; a projection video titled “Sharing Secrets;” and an installation room of foam and metal, titled “Secrets Room.”

Works by Hank Willis Thomas:

From his series “Unbranded: Reflections in Black by Corporate America”

Hank Willis Thomas is known for exploring American consumer culture, and the history of how corporate imagery in advertising campaigns showed a lack of respect towards African Americans through the years via print advertisements.

His series investigates the subtle and not so subtle ways in which this influential imagery reinforced ideas about race and race relations. Most of the works in this exhibition are from his series titled Unbranded: Reflections in Black by Corporate America.

The series explores fifty years of ads that targeted a Black audience or featured Black subjects. Ads starting in 1968 (the year of social and political protest and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.), through 2008 (the year when the first African American president was elected).

When looking at these works, the viewer quickly experiences a mind-twist when realizing that Thomas did not actually take these photos. Instead, he has appropriated the images from outdated magazine pages and removed all of the wording, product names, slogans and logos from each ad, keeping only the original photos. This makes the images stand out even more.

The end result is a re-imagined version of each original ad, showing how white ad executives at the time got away with creating these depictions for marketing campaigns.

Writing in The Guardian, the art critic Arwa Mahdawi stated: “Thomas’s work ‘unbrands’ advertising: stripping away the commercial context, and leaving the exposed image to speak for itself.”

Thomas then pairs a befitting title for each re-imagined work, further underscoring how disrespect, stereotypes ‒ and, in some cases, outright racism ‒ were prevalent in advertising aimed at Black Americans.

Some of his apt titles include: “Slack Power, 1969/2006,” “Now there’s a doll that can make a real difference in her life: Shani, the first black Barbie, 1991/2007,” “Celebrate your Specialness, 1997/2008,” and “The Mandingo of Sandwiches, 1977/2007.” The two years in each title represent first the year of the original ad, followed by the year that Thomas re-conceptualized each image.