Nationally renowned painter, installation artist and filmmaker Kerry James Marshall spoke of "John Brown’s Body: The Representation of Black Bodies as Revolutionary Gesture" during an illustrated talk March 4, 2009, at the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University.
Marshall reflects and continues the tradition of moral conscience of Gordon Parks and other leading African American visual artists. He creates large-scale paintings that explore African American culture from the Civil Rights to today, drawing from and weaving a history of black experience into his narratives. The artist states the subject of his art stems from the social climate of his youth: "You can't be born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1955 and grow up in South Central Los Angeles near the Black Panthers headquarters and not feel like you've got some kind of social responsibility. …That determined a lot of where my work was going to go." To underscore the humanism and social advocacy that underlie Gordon Parks' best work and acknowledge his participation in a tradition of African American artmaking, Marshall will talk about his own work and its sources in the shared legacy—cultural as well as artistic. Marshall lives in Chicago. In 1997, he was awarded a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago organized a major retrospective on the artist in 2004 that toured to nationally prominent museums. He is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York.