Artist Alexandra Bell is calling attention to how issues around race and violence are reported in The New York Times.
She is recreating newspaper pages on the walls of two Oberlin College buildings, showing in red ink how Bell questions editorial choices. The pieces dissect news coverage from police violence to athletic competition to reveal subtle and explicit biases about race, gender, and power.
The Brooklyn-based artist holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. Her “Counternarratives” project has been underway in public places since 2014, urging viewers to think critically about the circulation and consumption of news and the patterns and politics of the narratives presented.
Bell’s 2017 work, “A Teenager with Promise,” will be installed on the facade of the Seeley G. Mudd Center, 148 West College St. The work responds to the reporting of the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Mo.
A second work, “Charlottesville,” will be mounted on the Venturi Art Building, which conjoins the Allen Memorial Art Museum and the Oberlin College department of art, at 87 North Main St. It deconstructs a front-page Times report on an August 2017 march by torch-bearing white supremacists and the counter-protests that ensued.
Both installations are on view from Oct. 30 through Dec. 21.
Bell will give a free talk on her work at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29 at the Hallock Auditorium of the Adam J. Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, 122 Elm St.
She will meet with a group of about 25 Oberlin College students in a lunchtime session on Tuesday, Oct. 30 that will offer opportunities to discuss journalism, ethics, implicit bias, racism, and privilege, as well as the critical reading of both texts and images.
“Counternarratives” is presented in conjunction with “Radically Ordinary: Scenes from Black Life in America Since 1968,” an exhibition at the Allen Memorial Art Museum. More than 80 works explore the complexity of black life in the United States in the 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.