Black artist reveals unfinished artwork after traumatic confrontation Overture Center | News

Black artist reveals unfinished artwork after traumatic confrontation Overture Center

MADISON (WKOW) — More than a month after black artist Lilada Gee was traumatized by a confrontation with an Overture Center employee while working on an artwork, she unveiled her unfinished work in the same building.

In March, Gee, who was working on a piece for the new “Ain’t IA Woman” exhibit at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMOCA), was returning to work when an Overture Center employee stopped her and yelled at her to with an entrance with limited access.

Gee says she had every right to be there and that the incident was racially motivated. The Overture Center and MMOCA share the same building but are independent.

“I know it’s a shared building,” Gee said. “But I just think it felt like they weren’t ready for us as black women to show up in this space.”

After the incident, Gee decided not to finish her artwork because she felt uncomfortable in the space.

“A lot of people wanted me to finish this,” Gee said. “And I even tried to finish it, but I couldn’t do the energy that was put into the situation.”

Officials at the Overture Center have since apologized for the incident, telling 27 News that the employee involved no longer works there.

Gee says she’s grateful her work is still featured in the exhibition celebrating black women artists, but its unfinished status is symbolic of what she’s been through.

“Madison likes things to be neat, clean, and put together,” Gee said. “They don’t like to look at things like this. So I think having this unfinished piece is just this tangible way of seeing the underlying issues in this community for black people.”

Gee’s work will be on display through October alongside more than 20 other black female artists.

The “Ain’t IA Woman” exhibit is influenced by Sojourner Truth’s book on black feminism advocating the abolition of the death penalty and women’s rights. The exhibition highlights black women artists in Wisconsin.

“They all have individual stories, they all have individual aesthetics, but unfortunately the underlying theme is something like the double marginalization of being black and female,” says curator Fatima Laster. “So again, I wanted to showcase this really powerful stream of groundbreaking artists.”

Laster said she hopes the exhibition will draw attention to black female artists in a field traditionally dominated by black men and white women.

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