Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass

Lessons of the Hour

March 3–May 12, 2019
Lessons of the Hour is a meditation on the life, words, and actions of Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), the visionary African American abolitionist and freed slave, and on the issues of social justice that shaped his life’s work. More poem than story, ten video projections provide visitors with a special opportunity to be immersed in the spirit of this monumental historical figure.
(view larger image below)

Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass is the second exhibition in MAG’s “Reflections on Place” series of media art commissions informed by the history, culture, and politics of the City of Rochester, NY.
ASL | NOTESTRANSCRIPT | Read the press release | The Guardian | CITY Newspaper


Meet the Artist: Isaac Julien in Conversation with John G. Hanhardt

Sunday, March 3, 2019 | 2-3 pm

Groundbreaking media artist Isaac Julien and MAG’s Senior Consulting Curator of Media Arts John G. Hanhardt discuss Julien’s new MAG commission, Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass, a multi-screen film and video installation inspired by the life of Frederick Douglass.

I Would Like To Introduce Mr. Douglass

Sunday, April 14, 1-2 pm
We will begin with a  selected tour of art in MAG’s collection that reflects on the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass, and the issues that defined his life.  Following the tour of the art, we will view Lessons of the Houra  beautiful multi-screen media installation inspired by episodes in the life of Frederick Douglass.  After seeing the installation, we will have an opportunity to grab a seat and discuss what we saw, what it tells us about Frederick Douglass and most importantly how his story may be viewed today. Join us for a unique opportunity to celebrate Frederick  Douglass. Included in museum admission.

Concert: Re[framing] Perspectives

Sunday, April 14, 3-5 pm
A musical response to Isaac Julien’s “Lessons of the Hour” and Fischili & Weiss’ “The Way Things Go” presented by OSSIA New Music and Black Students at Eastman. Join us as we explore the dynamics surrounding the African American musician’s experience in classical music with “Creative Construction Set,” a work by George Lewis which experiments with the meaning of improvisation and the role of performer’s autonomy.

Included with museum admission. FREE for MAG members, and University of Rochester students, faculty, and staff with a valid ID

Frederick Douglass and Public Art Today

Wednesday, April 17, 2019 | 7-8 pm

Join us for a discussion on the history of Frederick Douglass, public art, and the Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass project. Participants include Carvin Eison, Associate Professor of Journalism, Broadcasting & Public Relations at the College of Brockport, and Project Manager of the Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass; Joan Saab, Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester and scholarly expert in the history of public art; and Carolyn Vacca, Monroe County Historian and Associate Professor and Chair of History at St. John Fisher College. Moderator: Amanda Chestnut,  Artist and Arts Administrator, Flower City Arts Center. Included in museum admission.

The Woman Douglass: Anna Murray Douglass

Sunday, April 28, 2019 | 2-3 pm
We know so much about Frederick Douglass—come learn about the woman behind the great lion of the 19th century, his wife Anna Murray Douglass. Theater artist and community educator Delores Jackson Radney will speak to Anna Douglass’ role in changing history. This program is free to volunteers in celebration of National Volunteer Recognition Month. Included in museum admission.

shown above: Isaac Julien, Lessons of the Hour, 2019. Courtesy the Artist, Metro Pictures New York, and Victoria Miro London/Venice

The “Reflections on Place” series of media art commissions by the Memorial Art Gallery is presented by the Zell Family, and Deborah Ronnen and Sherman Levey.

Lessons of the Hour was commissioned and acquired by the Memorial Art Gallery with the partnership of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and with generous support from Mark Falcone and Ellen Bruss, Ford Foundation, VIA Art Fund, and Lori Van Dusen. The commission is also made possible by Barbara and Aaron Levine, Deborah Ronnen, the Maurice and Maxine Forman Fund, the Marion Stratton Gould Fund, the Herdle-Moore Fund, the Strasenburgh Fund, and the Lyman K. and Eleanore B. Stuart Endowment Fund. Production of the work is generously supported by Metro Pictures, New York; Victoria Miro, London/Venice; the Arts Division of the University of California Santa Cruz; and by Eastman Kodak Company, on whose film stock the installation was shot.

In Rochester, the exhibition is made possible by the Margaret Davis Friedlich and Alan and Sylvia Davis Memorial Fund, the Robert A. and Maureen S. Dobies Endowment Fund, the Kayser Fund, the Elizabeth and Eric Rennert Family Fund, the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Fund, and an anonymous donor.


Lessons of the Hour