Smithsonian gallery explores diversity in US lynchings

Published 07-20-2018

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery acknowledges that people of color have long been missing in the works it exhibits.

Now the museum is tackling the issue in an unusual way.

The Portrait Gallery is currently showing about 20 works by Los Angeles-based artist Ken Gonzales-Day that examine lynchings, mostly in the American West, and probe the history of racial violence in the United States.

Gonzales-Day says the exhibit asks viewers to empathize with those of a different cultural background and language.

The exhibit, "UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light," also includes 17 paintings and one sculpture by artist Titus Kaphar, who recreates well-known paintings to include those traditionally left out by smearing tar, erasing with white paint and shredding canvas into strips.

The display runs through January.

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Mexican-American artist Ken Gonzales-Day is currently exhibiting his 2006 series "Erased Lynchings" at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, Monday, June 25, 2018, a series of photographs of lynchings in which the victim has been digitally removed from the image. The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery is examining how people of color have been missing in historical portraiture. A new exhibit explores the diversity of victims of lynchings. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) - The Associated Press


Mexican-American artist Ken Gonzales-Day speaks about his current exhibition of his 2006 series "Erased Lynchings" at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, Monday, June 25, 2018, a series of photographs of lynchings in which the victim has been digitally removed from the image. The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery is examining how people of color have been missing in historical portraiture. A new exhibit explores the diversity of victims of lynchings. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) - The Associated Press


A visitor looks at prints by Mexican-American artist Ken Gonzales-Day, who is currently exhibiting his 2006 series "Erased Lynchings" at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, Monday, June 25, 2018, a series of photographs of lynchings in which the victim has been digitally removed from the image. The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery is examining how people of color have been missing in historical portraiture. A new exhibit explores the diversity of victims of lynchings. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) - The Associated Press


Mexican-American artist Ken Gonzales-Day is currently exhibiting his 2006 series "Erased Lynchings" at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, Monday, June 25, 2018, a series of photographs of lynchings in which the victim has been digitally removed from the image. The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery is examining how people of color have been missing in historical portraiture. A new exhibit explores the diversity of victims of lynchings. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) - The Associated Press


Mexican-American artist Ken Gonzales-Day, left, speaks to a group of hispanic recent high school graduates as he is currently exhibiting his 2006 series "Erased Lynchings" at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, Monday, June 25, 2018, a series of photographs of lynchings in which the victim has been digitally removed from the image. The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery is examining how people of color have been missing in historical portraiture. A new exhibit explores the diversity of victims of lynchings. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) - The Associated Press


A visitor looks at prints by Mexican-American artist Ken Gonzales-Day, who is currently exhibiting his 2006 series "Erased Lynchings" at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, Monday, June 25, 2018, a series of photographs of lynchings in which the victim has been digitally removed from the image. The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery is examining how people of color have been missing in historical portraiture. A new exhibit explores the diversity of victims of lynchings. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) - The Associated Press