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Kehinde Wiley: Omaha

Kehinde Wiley: Omaha debuts September 10, 2024 debuts new portraits by Kehinde Wiley inspired by paintings from the Joslyn Art Museum’s collection of European art. In the fall of 2023, the artist spent two days in Omaha conducting “street casting,” a practice he developed early in his career that entails working with local residents to identify sitters for his paintings. For the The Joslyn exhibition, Wiley is focusing primarily on first and second-generation South Sudanese immigrants who live in Omaha, the largest such population outside of the Republic of South Sudan. The artist invited members of this community to attend photo shoots, where he carefully posed them based on figural paintings from the Museum’s collection. 

Born in Los Angeles, Wiley began painting at the age of eleven, when his mother enrolled him in art classes. He went on to study at the San Francisco Art Institute and Yale University School of Art. For more than twenty years, Wiley has made paintings of people all over the world in an effort to celebrate individuals whose voices and stories have been overlooked or suppressed. With his Omaha project, Wiley begins to trace a map of the contemporary African diaspora, examining complex identity questions that inform migration experiences across generations.

Kehinde Wiley: Omaha is organized by the Joslyn Art Museum. It is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue with essays by Joslyn Art Museum curators Karin Campbell, Phil Willson Curator of Contemporary Art, and Taylor J. Acosta, PhD, Chief Curator & Willis A. Strauss Curator of European Art.

Photo by Brad Ogbonna