Alumni Spotlight: Erin Falker, From Riot to Rebellion at the Wright Museum


Untitled, © 1970, Beuford Smith/Cesaire

Last month, art and culture magazine Hyperallergic featured Erin Falker’s (2006) work as Assistant Curator at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.

There, Falker helped develop the special exhibition Say it Loud: Art, History, and Rebellion, “a two-part exhibition that commemorates the 1960s rebellions, observes the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit Rebellion, and compares the uprisings of the past to the upheavals that shocked our nation in the 21st century.”

The exhibition renames and reframes these uprisings, more often referred to as riots, to center the point of view of African American communities.

Before her work in Detroit, Erin double-majored in art history and art practice at Stanford University and earned an MFA in visual studies at the Sam Fox School of Design at Washington University.

In her artist’s statement, Erin writes: “Working within the established codes of racial representation, I use verbal and visual play to subvert standard interpretations and produce alternatives to fixed identity within the limiting space of mass media representation.”

A historical museum, The Wright doesn’t always show art, but Erin believes artists play a vital role in preserving history: “I think that’s one thing that artists do very well, is they deal with their own realities in their own ways.”

Hyperallergic agrees, asserting that “Say It Loud has proven that a riot by another name may lead to a more liberated viewpoint, and one which prioritizes the lived experiences of African Americans.”