Overlay: Exhibition by Xaviera Simmons


Wed - Sat, Apr 26 to Jul 1, 12:00pm - 5:00pm


Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery, Byerly Hall, 8 Garden St

Presented by: Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Admission: Free and open to the public
Exhibition Runs: 4/26-7/1 
Gallery hours: Monday-Saturday, 12-5 PM
Overlay Exhibition Opening Discussion: Tuesday, April 25, 5 PM
More information

Overlay, an exhibition created by the multimedia artist Xaviera Simmons for the Radcliffe Institute, uses text-based video, photographs, and soundscapes to feature characters rooted in stories and historical narratives found in the archives of the Radcliffe Institute’s Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America.

The artist engaged with a set of Schlesinger collections that resonate with long-standing explorations—cookbooks, first-person travel narratives, images of women at work, architects, and health works, among others. She distilled this multitude of voices and places them in a new contextual space, overlaying diverse languages and presenting a diverse cross section of figures to enliven and inhabit the landscape of the gallery. The installation provides these women new voices and audience, which is especially significant for people who might not have been afforded the same possibilities due to gender, lineage, and privilege. 

Overlay brings together and further develops numerous strands of Simmons’s artistic practice: her engagement with the archive, film, performance, sculpture, photography, the senses, and her situating of select aspects of the past into present and future tenses. She critically examines the potential of archives, both as repositories of historical memory and as spaces suggestive of alternative possibilities for the artifacts they hold. Simmons refers to the archive as her “studio,” a space of artistic genesis and exploration.

Overlay is part of a collaboration between the Radcliffe Institute and the Cambridge Arts Council, whose summer series on the Cambridge Common will feature a performance created by Simmons based on the exhibition.

We invite you to join us for free gallery talks about the exhibition:

Saturday, May 13, 2 PM
Sean Wehle, PhD candidate, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

Sunday, May 14, 2 PM
Meg Rotzel, arts program manager, Radcliffe Institute

Saturday, May 20, 2:30 PM
Yukio Lippit, Johnson-Kulukundis Family Faculty Director of the Arts, Radcliffe Institute; professor of history of art and architecture, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Thursday, June 1, 3 PM
Dina Deitsch, curator, Common Exchange; John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Interim Director, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University

Thursday, June 15, 2:30 PM
Meg Rotzel, arts program manager, Radcliffe Institute

Saturday, June 17, 2:30 PM
Meg Rotzel, arts program manager, Radcliffe Institute