Delaware Public Media

Delaware Art Museum unveils commission that reflects on 1968

Jul 9, 2018

The Delaware Art Museum is opening a new exhibition that reflects on the 1968 occupation of Wilmington by the National Guard.


The museum commissioned conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas to create the exhibition, called “Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot.”

It’s a series of 14 large “retroreflective” screen prints, which are layered images made from News Journal photographs from 1968 and archival documents from the Delaware Historical Society.

The museum’s Curator of Contemporary Art Margaret Winslow says the prints are interactive. The layered images are only revealed when a light is shone on the print.

“The same way if you shine your headlights on those signs on the highway and they flash back at you,” she said. “It’s the same kind of material he’s using.”

Winslow says the shrouded quality of Thomas’ work speaks to the way Wilmington’s 9-month occupation often isn’t talked about.

“Those events have really kind of fallen prey to historical amnesia,” she said.

Also on display at the museum until September are “Danny Lyon: Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement” (photography) and “The Montgomery Bus Boycott: Drawings by Harvey Dinnerstein and Burton Silverman.”

There will be preview event for the Hank Willis Thomas exhibition as well as an official opening of the other two exhibitions on July 13th.