May 08, 2019-Aug 11, 2019

American Artist presents Dignity Images

Curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah and Emily Kuhlmann

Social media has enabled a level of performativity that impacts how individuals capture their experiences, and present their lives to the world.

While the digital platforms on which we post, capture, and promote our images champions the supposed democratization of one’s image, social media also involves a high level of surveillance, subsequently prioritizing the capitalistic objectives of corporations.

Enter the Dignity Image. A term coined by American Artist, a dignity image is a personal image that is deliberately withheld from social media circulation.

With the ubiquity of social media apps, there is now an inherent choice in deciding not to post images in the digital space. The images not shared with the “public eye” break free from a performed persona of the self, created for dissemination online. While the reasons for not sharing such images vary, there is a non-verbal declaration of agency, whether realized or not, in the act of choosing to capture and keep an image outside of a social media context.

This exhibition seeks to explore the idea of the dignity image as it relates to Bayview-Hunters Point, aptly labeled as the “Most Isolated Neighborhood in San Francisco.” American Artist and the Museum of the African Diaspora partnered with Bayview-Hunters Point organizations and individuals to capture these images within the site specificity of San Francisco.


American Artist (b. 1989 Altadena, CA) is an alumnus of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. They earned their M.F.A. from Parsons, The New School and their B.F.A. from California Polytechnic University Pomona. Solo exhibitions include Black Gooey Universe, HOUSING, Brooklyn, NY (2018); and My Blue Window, Queens Museum, NY (forthcoming). They have participated in group exhibitions such as: Parallels and Peripheries, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, MI (2019); ICONICITY, Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery, Stony Brook University, NY (2019); A Wild Ass Beyond: ApocalypseRN, Performance Space New York, NY (2018); Geographies of Imagination, SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin, Germany (2018); I Was Raised on the Internet, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, IL (2018); Screenscapes, Postmasters, New York, NY (2018); Lack of Location is My Location, Koenig & Clinton, Brooklyn, NY (2017); and Off Pink, The Kitchen, New York, NY (2015) among others. Artist is currently a resident at Abrons Art Center and Pioneer Works and a 2018-2019 recipient of the Queens Museum Jerome Foundation Fellowship. They are the co-founder of the arts and politics publication unbag and have published writing in The New Inquiry and New Criticals. They live and work in Brooklyn, NY.


Emily A. Kuhlmann is the Director of Exhibitions and Curatorial Affairs at MoAD. Exhibitions include The Grace Jones Project (2016), Where is Here (2017), The Ease of Fiction (2017), Alison Saar: Bearing (2016), A Matter of Fact: Toyin Ojih Odutola (2016) and Todd Gray: My Life in the Bush with MJ and Iggy (2017). Kuhlmann received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Irvine in Art History with a minor in Women’s Studies. Returning back to the Bay Area, she received her Master of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. Her research interests include performance and critical race art history.

Larry Ossei-Mensah, MOCAD’s Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator uses contemporary art as a vehicle to redefine how we see ourselves and the world around us. The Ghanaian-American curator and cultural critic has organized exhibitions and programs at commercial and nonprofit spaces around the globe from New York City to Rome in addition to documenting cultural happenings featuring the most dynamic visual artists working today such as Derrick Adams, Mickalene Thomas, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Federico Solmi, and Kehinde Wiley. Ossei-Mensah is also the co-founder of ARTNOIR a global collective of culturalists who design multimodal experiences aimed to engage this generation’s dynamic and diverse creative class. In 2017, he was the Critic-in Residence at ART OMI and in 2019 he will serve as a curatorial mentor at the VisArt in Rockville,MD. Ossei-Mensah is a contributor to the first ever Ghanaian Pavilion for the 2019 Venice Biennial. Fall 2019 Ossei-Mensah will be curating his second exhibition at MOCAD Crossing Night. Follow him on Instagram/Twitter at @youngglobal.