The Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison believes deeply in the power of art to inform, enlighten, and explore our shared history. The museum also acknowledges the often complex and difficult past associated with works such as public monuments and their role in glorifying racism in America. Over the last several years the Chazen has developed a reputation for activating innovative new approaches to its collection, exhibition programming and outreach. One of the key elements of this approach is to partner with contemporary artists, campus colleagues and community stakeholders to better illuminate and understand, in new context, historical works in its collection. The re:mancipation project will be the most significant realization of this approach to date.

re:mancipation is a collaborative project planned over the next two years with the Chazen Museum of Art (University of Wisconsin-Madison), artist Sanford Biggers, and MASK ConsortiumMASK is a coalition of artists & cultural institutions sharing knowledge to promote a more complete understanding of human history through the digital preservation of art and artifacts. Founding members include Artist Sanford Biggers, and Eric Edwards, Executive Director of the Cultural Museum of African Art. The project will engage with a sculpture in the museum collection, “Emancipation Group,” by American sculptor Thomas Ball, which depicts Abraham Lincoln standing over a kneeling freed man. Using the sculpture as its central focus, re:mancipation will seek to explore, dissect, and better understand racism in America. Final deliverables throughout the multi-year endeavor will include the creation of a new artwork by Biggers, a documentary about the project, both in-person and virtual exhibitions, the development of an extensive national symposium series, a specific toolkit and training for K-12 teachers around using this project as a vehicle for engaging with challenging topics in the classroom, and the production of supporting research, archival, and educational material.