MARNsalon with Jeffreen Hayes in residence at Hawthorn Contemporary

Monday – Friday, July 30th-August 3rd, 2018

Jeffreen M. Hayes, Ph.D., Executive Director & Curator

Jeffreen M. Hayes, a trained art historian and curator, merges administrative, curatorial and academic practices into her cultural practice of supporting artists and community development. As an advocate for racial inclusion, equity and access, Jeffreen has developed a curatorial and leadership approach that invites community participation, particularly those in marginalized communities. Her curatorial projects include Intimate Interiors (2012), Etched in Collective History (2013), SILOS (2016), Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman (2018), and Process (2019). Additionally, she is a guest curator for Artpace San Antonio’s International Artist-in-Residence program from May 2018-August 2018.

As the Executive Director of Threewalls, a position she has held since 2015, Jeffreen provides strategic vision for the artistic direction and impact of the organization in Chicago. Under her leadership, Threewalls intentionally develops artistic platforms that encourages connections beyond traditional engagements with art. These engagements help manifest the organization’s vision of art connecting segregated communities, people and experiences together.

Jeffreen earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary, a MA in Art History from Howard University, and a BA from Florida International University in Humanities. She has worked several museums and cultural institutions including Birmingham Museum of Art, Hampton University Museum, Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Art. Jeffreen held fellowships at Ithaca College in the Art History department and in the Cartoon and Caricature Division at Library of Congress as a Swann Foundation Fellow. Jeffreen is a Chief Executive Community and Culture Fellow alum, a program facilitated by National Arts Strategies.

Purview Statement

“White Fragility: A Truth About Art Spaces and Institutions”

White fragility is killing art spaces and institutions.

The intersection of race and art exists in ways that leave “mainstream” (read as white=anglo) spaces and institutions unaccountable for exclusionary practices against Black people, People of Color and other marginalized groups. When these practices and spaces receive constructive criticism, oftentimes, white fragility rises to the surface and gets expressed in violent ways. Violence does exist within the arts. The violence manifests in yelling at the person or persons challenging the exclusion, deflecting and re-directing criticism towards the victim, and claiming discomfort while inflicting discomfort upon those whose presence is said to cause the discomfort. These defensive moves are what Robin DiAngelo, Ph.D. defines as white fragility, “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.” This is white fragility.

“Anthropology is the study of the colored peoples of the world; they don’t study anybody else…And, it takes two to make anthropology: the student and the studied…it is time, way past time for the studied to examine the student and to evaluate its own self.” ~Toni Morrison, “Humanist View”

How do Black bodies navigate white fragility that exist in spaces that proclaim they are “diverse,” “support diversity,” or “practice inclusion?” What are the ways in which the intersection of art and race can create common bonds that are not built upon color-blindness as the tool for acceptance? How can Black people and People of Color call out the inequities AND the abuse to them and their respective communities without the threat of violence?

The art space is often thought of and talked about as an accepting or a neutral one: racial, gender, sexual and class differences make everyone ONE: human: the same. While some are accepting in this sense, many are not, even in this contemporary moment. The art space functions as a microcosm of the social, political and economic realities that surrounds and works through us.

Space (noun): a continuous area or expanse which is free, available or unoccupied; the freedom to live, think, and develop in a way that suits one.

What if we considered the definition of space and applied it to challenging the slow death of art spaces and institutions by making space for marginalized individuals?

¹Robin DiAngelo, “White Fragility,” International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, vol. 3, no. 3, 54-70, 2011.
²Toni Morrison, “Humanist View,” Portland State University, May 30, 1975.
³Space definition from Oxford Dictionaries Online,

We are grateful to accept funding for the 2018 MARNsalon program from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund and the Milwaukee Arts Board.

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