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Carrie Mae Weems exhibition engages campus

Carrie Mae Weems: The Usual Suspects, has arrived at The College of New Jersey. The exhibition, on view at TCNJ Art Gallery until Oct. 30, includes photographs and video work that brings to light the questions surrounding biases and racial stereotypes that affect Black Americans, in particular, through the criminal justice system.

 The traveling exhibition, organized by the Louisiana State University of Art, will travel to other schools across the country. In collaboration with Margaret Pezalla-Granlund, director of The College of New Jersey’s Art Gallery and the Sarnoff Collection, TCNJ faculty designed the program and provided context for the canvas.

“For us, the thing that was really exciting is that Carrie Mae Weems is widely recognized, an artist with an international reputation. With this exhibition we have the opportunity to show an artist who is found in art history textbooks,” Pezalla-Granlund said.

The exhibition has also provided an opportunity  to bring together students and faculty from different departments on campus to have a conversation surrounding race in America. 

“It ties in to what’s happening and what people are interested in other departments, beyond the art department,” Pezalla-Granlund explained. “Like the criminology, history, english, and psychology departments.”

Several on-campus activities are running concurrently with the exhibition this fall. Two events feature the scholarly work of faculty from the School of the Arts and Communication. For more details about these events, see below the article. 

On Sept. 14, Assistant Professor for African American Studies and Criminology Michael B. Mitchell moderated the opening panel discussion with guest speakers Tracy Thompson, an insurance fraud prosecutor at New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor, and Jess Abolafia, a writer and advocate, who is pursuing a M.A. in English from TCNJ.

The takeaway that many students have come away from the panel discussion and a visit to the exhibit, is one of inclusivity and learning new perspectives. 

Michael Paolella ’23, an interactive multimedia major with a minor in graphic design, said his takeaway was the importance of being understanding of those different from him. 

“It definitely taught me to be more alert of my actions, make sure I’m not insulting anybody and to be very inclusive,” Paolella said. “To be courteous of others and try to be knowledgeable about people outside of my circle.” 

Jasmine Delgado ’25, a fine arts major with a minor in women and gender studies, said she became very reflective about the harm that biases have on people of color.. 

“Biases are not something that you can touch, they’re not tangible; they’re thoughts, they’re ideas that are passed down. And this showed how damaging it could be without putting faces to things,” Delgado said. “It makes me reflect on how I’ve been taught and the things that have been told to me about certain people, and to just take a step back and look at myself and look at the world and the lens that I get to view it in.” 

Learn more about the exhibition and gallery hours.

Kelly Stephens ‘23

Related Events

Film Screening: Seven Square Miles 

A film screening of Seven Square Miles, directed by Interim Dean and Communication Studies Professor Lorna Johnson-Frizell and edited by Communications Studies adjunct instructor Genevieve Faust, was held on Sept. 28 in the Kendall Hall Studio. The event was sponsored by the Pelson Chair. 

The film, which was recently awarded Best Feature Documentary at the New Jersey Independent Film Festival 2022, follows a police detective and a community activist as they struggle to run a diversion program called Trenton Violence Reduction Strategy. The program (TVRS) supports residents who have had interactions with the criminal justice system. Read more about the film.

Distinguished Artist’s Talk Wendel White

Join us for an artist’s talk with photographer, educator, and cultural worker Wendel White, who currently serves as Distinguished Professor of Art at Stockton University. The event will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 4 in AIMM 125, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Learn more.

Image/Document: Photography Workshop with Andrea “Philly” Walls

Join us for a participatory workshop with Andrea “Philly” Walls, a multidisciplinary artist, informed and inspired by the writers and visual artists of the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement. Participants are encouraged to bring a cell phone camera. The workshop will be held on Tuesday, Tuesday, Oct. 18, from 5-6:30 p.m. in the AIMM Building. The workshop is free of charge, but advance registration is required. Learn more.


In collaboration with The Artivism Project at TCNJ, this afternoon of interdisciplinary learning will connect art, music, and text about social justice, civil rights, and the role of anthems in our lives. Visit the Carrie Mae Weems exhibition, hear a performance of Omar Thomas’ Of Our New Day Begun, and engage in discussions and interactive projects with TCNJ faculty and students. Explore how art and music can serve as a bridge across divides and lead us toward empathy and shared humanity. The program will be held on Monday, Oct. 24, from 12:30-5:30 p.m. and is open to high school and college students. Questions can be directed to Department Chair of Music Colleen Sears and Assistant Professor of Music Eric Laprade. Register today!


School of the Arts and Communication
Art and Interactive Multimedia Building
The College of New Jersey
P.O. Box 7718
2000 Pennington Rd.
Ewing, NJ 08628