Henry Darger's Orphans and the Construction of Race

Henry Darger. Untitled (In Times Like These), n.d. AFAM 102.5.jpg

July 14, 2017-January 14, 2018
Curated by Jaimy Magdalena Mann


Intuit’s exhibition Henry Darger’s Orphans and the Construction of Race centers on Darger’s late collages, which include photographic reproductions of Asian “war-orphans” in Korea and Vietnam. The collages offer an anguished reflection on the complicated aftermath of war, representations of race and ethnicity, Darger’s thwarted real-life attempts to adopt a child, and his own victimization as an orphan and reveals how the United States constructed race, particularly whiteness, and childhood.

In addition to Darger’s collages incorporating Asian children, the exhibition includes personal documents about his desire to adopt, Catholic ephemera focusing on adoption, white orphans in comics, and a variety of source material from coloring books, advertisements, and newspapers depicting Asian and Native American children, and people of color. Darger’s collection of source material and his reappropriation of those images into the collages provides an understanding of society’s views on race, class, gender and commodification during the mid-20th century.

Click on the link below to listen to a WDCB 90.9 FM Radio interview with curator Jaimy Magdalena Mann:
 The Art Section "Intuit Celebrates Chicago's Very Own Outsider"

Image: Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973). Untitled (“In Times Like These…”), n.d. Page of coloring book, newspaper clippings, and other paper clippings on advertising cardboard, 14 x 20 in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York, 102.5. © 2017 Kiyoko Lerner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Photo credit: Gavin Ashworth, © American Folk Art Museum/Art Resource, NY

Special thanks to the American Folk Art Museum, New York, for its
generous loans of Henry Darger artworks and archives.

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