Art exhibit pays homage to African-American women's labor issues

April 18, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The HUB-Robeson Galleries present an exhibition, "The Domestic," by artist Zoë Charlton, from April 29 through June 25. A free, public reception with light refreshments will be held from 6–8 p.m.on  June 25.

On view are large-scale collages, drawings and a sculptural installation that pay homage to the long history of African-American women’s labor in the houses of white families. Recurring imagery in Charlton's work — suburban houses, African masks, paper dolls, and lush landscapes — provides a new approach to issues and representations of black identity. "The Domestic" examines notions of care-taking across racial and class lines, the fragility and failings of a home, and the complications of gender and sexuality in relation to this intensely bodily work.

In the center of the gallery, is a replica of Charlton’s grandmother's house. Remade from memory, "Paul Russell Road" has landed up ended and askew. Inside the belly of the piece, little suburban houses shrink, complicating and reminding that some places that seemed expansive and imposing as children become small or larger through their recollection. Interested in power and the way it is signified on the body, Charlton’s figures protrude from houses, explode flora and fauna, cradle and compress, are physically bare and simultaneously masked.

Charlton was born in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1973, and lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland. She has participated in residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and at The Creative Alliance in Baltimore. Her work has been included in national and international group exhibitions including the Contemporary Art Museum (Houston, Texas), the Studio Museum of Harlem (New York City), the Zacheta National Gallery of Art (Warsaw, Poland), Haas & Fischer Gallery (Zurich, Switzerland), Clementine Gallery (New York City) and Wendy Cooper Gallery (Chicago, Illinois). Charlton's work has been reviewed in ARTnews and Art in America. Previous experiences range from being an animator for Flat Black Films in Austin, Texas, to teaching positions at Missouri State University (MO) and Southwestern University (TX). She is an associate professor of art at American University in Washington, D.C.

The galleries are open daily, 10 a.m-4 p.m. Monday-Sunday. For more information on this and other exhibitions, contact the HUB-Robeson Galleries at 814-865-2563, or visit

Last Updated April 19, 2019