The Academy Art Museum  In Praise of Shadows: Modern and Contemporary Dialogues with Jun’ichiro Tanizaki and LaToya Hobbs: Woodcuts

By Editorial Team on April 17, 2023

Sat, April 22 2023 — Sun, July 23 2023

LaToya Hobbs (American, b. 1983) Nina 3, 2019, woodcut and collage on paper, Courtesy of the artist
Opening: Saturday, April 22 at 2pm


The Academy Art Museum is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibitions In Praise of Shadows: Modern and Contemporary Dialogues with Jun’ichiro Tanizaki and LaToya Hobbs: Woodcuts. There will be an open house for both exhibitions on Saturday, April 22, 2023. During the open house at 2 pm, LaToya Hobbs will give a presentation of her work.

In conjunction with the exhibition In Praise of Shadows, a short film program, Poetry of Shadows will be offered for free on Friday, April 28 at 6 pm.

In Praise of Shadows: Modern and Contemporary Dialogues with Jun’ichiro Tanizaki

In Praise of Shadows  presents a selection of works on paper by acclaimed 20th century and contemporary artists in dialogue with the Japanese author Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, who wrote a seminal essay of the same title in 1933. Tanizaki’s subtle but powerful observations on how darkness can exude beauty and sumptuousness conjure a visual world that subverts the historical archetyping of light as ethereal, good and angelic, and dark as brooding and somewhat devilish. Bringing together works by Belkis Ayon, Kate Breakey, Kottie Gaydos, Louise Nevelson, Kiuko Saito, Hito Steyerl, Dox Thrash, and others, the exhibition provides an in-depth look at the various uses of darkness in art from the early 20th century until the present day.

In Praise of Shadows by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, is one of those essays that can truly transform one’s worldview, understanding of history, and appreciation of beauty. It has been a wonderful journey to seek the work of artists whose works subvert mainstream interpretations of darkness, and convey much-needed nuance in the shadows, paralleling Tanizaki’s observations on how the lack of light can indeed bring out staggering visions. Whether it is the literal mechanics of light and shadow that produce Will Wilson’s portraits, or Kottie Gaydos’ ceramic sculptural installation that will develop over the course of the exhibition, the artists in the exhibition all interpret darkness in innovative ways,” notes Curator Mehves Lelic.

Seventeen tintype photographs by contemporary Diné artist Will Wilson are on loan to the Museum from Art Bridges, arts patron Alice Walton’s visionary program that subsidizes loans of major artworks to rural museums. The works are part of Wilson’s Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange series, in which he partners with Native people to make their portrait. By using a historic nineteenth century photographic process, collaborating with his subjects on how they are depicted, and then gifting them the original work, Wilson offers his sitters agency, in turn, subverting damaging romanticized and stereotypical depictions of Indigenous people.

Wilson received his MFA from the University of New Mexico. He has been honored with the Eiteljorg Native American Fine Art Fellowship, Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for Sculpture, Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant for Photography and he was the Doran Artist in Residence at the Yale University Art Gallery. Wilson has held visiting professorships at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Oberlin College, and the University of Arizona. His work is exhibited and collected internationally, and he is Head of Photography at Santa Fe Community College.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Art Bridges to expose local audiences to the thought-provoking ideas behind Will Wilson’s portraits of Native people and the issues of representation he subverts through his collaborative approach. Our work at the Academy Art Museum, like Art Bridges, is driven by the conviction that everyone should have access to the highest quality cultural experiences. With the ongoing support of Art Bridges, we can deliver on that vision,” states Director Sarah Jesse.

To provide barrier-free access to art, the Museum recently eliminated its admission fee. These exhibitions and all related programming are offered to the public at no charge.

Short Film Program: Poetry of ShadowsFriday, April 28, 6 pmFree

Inspired by the exhibition In Praise of Shadows, AAM presents a program of short experimental films showcasing cinema’s poetry of shadows on Friday, April 28 at 6 pm. Films will be projected in their original format, including 16mm film, and introduced by Ryan Conrath, programmer and Associate Professor of Film at Salisbury University, in conversation with AAM Curator Mehves Lelic. Films include: Black Girl as a Landscape (Sondra Perry, 2010, 10 min.); Immer Zu (Janie Geiser, 1997, 8.5 min.); Image (Shadow) (Nobuhiro Aihara, 1987, 8.5 min.); Arnulf Rainer (Peter Kubelka, 1960, 7 min.); and Black Hole Space Debt (Stephen Wardell, 2022, 14 min.)

LaToya Hobbs: WoodcutsArtist Talk: Saturday, April 22, 2 pm

Arkansas-born, Baltimore-based painter and printmaker LaToya Hobbs uses figuration to depict the Black female body and challenge the stereotypical perceptions of it through a nuanced, layered look. Themes of family, beauty, adornment, cultural identity, and sisterhood take center stage in the work, as Hobbs’ thoughtful compositions on a singular printmaking surface create deep, multi-faceted worlds.

Hobbs holds a BA in Painting from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and an MFA in Printmaking from Purdue University. Her exhibition record includes numerous national and international venues, including the National Art Gallery of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia; the SCAD Museum of Art; the Albright Knox Museum; and the Sophia Wanamaker Gallery in San Jose, Costa Rica, among others. Her work is housed in private and public collections such as the Harvard Art Museum, the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, the National Art Gallery of Namibia, the Getty Research Institute, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Hobbs’s accomplishments include the 2020 Janet and Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize, a nomination for the 2022 Queen Sonja Print Award, and a 2022 IFPDA Artist Grant. Hobbs is also a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art and a founding member of Black Women of Print (BWoP).

Curator Mehves Lelic comments, “LaToya Hobbs’ work is an incredibly moving celebration of Black femininity. She is a virtuosic printmaker who can tell layered stories of beauty, joy, and shared history through her portraits, which serve as a living legacy. Her subjects come alive in her large-scale portraits through layers of patterns, textures, and aura. Woodcut is the oldest form of printmaking, and Hobbs’ visual language presents an exciting, contemporary and masterful revitalization. We are very much looking forward to sharing her work with our audience.”

About the Academy Art Museum
As the premier art museum on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the Academy Art Museum presents high-quality exhibitions and a full range of art classes for visitors of all ages. Past exhibitions have featured artists such as James Turrell, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Pat Steir and Richard Diebenkorn. The permanent collection focuses on works on paper by American and European artists from four centuries including recent acquisitions by Graciela Iturbide and Zanele Muholi. Arts educational programs range from life drawing lessons to digital art instruction, and include lunchtime and cocktail hour concerts, lectures and special art events, as well as a Fall Craft Show celebrating 26 years. AAM also provides arts education to school children from the region and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. To continue the institutional movement of offering free public programming and to give barrier-free access to art, AAM eliminated admission fees in 2023.


  • Tuesday-Wednesday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Thursday-Friday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Saturday-Sunday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Closed Mondays and Federal holidays.

The Academy Art Museum is located at 106 South Street, Easton, MD.