At the Edge of Whiteness: Brown Feeling and the Public Life of Blackness in José Clemente Orozco's U.S.-based Prints

The Latin American Studies Program is pleased to invite you to the following talk: "At the Edge of Whiteness: Brown Feeling and the Public Life of Blackness in José Clemente Orozco’s U.S.-based Prints," by Mary K. Coffey

This talk explores the Mexican artist, José Clemente Orozco’s, US-based lithograph on the public life of Blackness, executed during his second and longest sojourn in the United States between 1928 and 1934. I argue that his representation of variety theater in Harlem, in the first lithograph he produced, and his representation of lynching in the last lithograph the produced, speak to a concern with Blackness that was both new and related to the artist’s experiences with racialization while traveling, living, and working in the United States. By bringing Performance Studies scholar José Muñoz’s theorization of “the sense of brown” to bear upon Orozco’s work, I explore these prints as an expression of nascent brown feeling and thereby as a performance of a relational and in-process Latinidad. My focus on brownness in Orozco’s work suggests new pathways for understanding race beyond the Black/white binary that has thus far dominated discussions of race and representation in American art during the inter-war period. Likewise, it opens new questions about the concerns of Mexican artists during the “Mexican Vogue,” suggesting heretofore unconsidered connections with artists and intellectuals during the Harlem Renaissance as well as Mexican-American artists working today.

Please register in the following link:

Content Warning// this talk discusses racial stereotypes, lynching, and the spectacularization of violence in art.

Mary K. Coffey is Professor of the Modern Art of the Americas at Dartmouth College in the Departments of Art History and Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies. Her first book, How a Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture: Murals, Museums, and the Mexican State (Duke 2012), won the College Art Association’s Charles Rufus Morey Prize in 2012. Her most recent book, Orozco’s America: Myth, History, and the Melancholy of Race (Duke 2020) offers the first sustained analysis of José Clemente Orozco’s The Epic of American Civilization fresco cycle at Dartmouth College. Her current work concerns the “public life of Blackness” and anti-Blackness in the art of Orozco. She is also working on the historical construction of the Pedregal and the politics of extraction in post-Revolutionary Mexico. 

Sponsored by the Latin American Studies Program, with additional support 
by the American Culture Studies Program at Washington University.

For more information, please contact Prof. Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado at