Toni Morrison, one of the most acclaimed writers in American history, will be the focus of a series of events and exhibitions to be held at Princeton University.
Per the Princeton University Library, Toni Morrison: Sites of Memory— curated by Autumn Womack, assistant professor of English and African American Studies at Princeton—will examine Morrison’s “creative process and influences on the past, present, and future.”
During the celebration, the Toni Morrison Papers archive which includes "200 linear feet of research materials, manuscript drafts, correspondence, photographs, and other ephemera that the University acquired in 2014" will be on display.
“It is difficult to overstate the importance of Toni Morrison’s writing to American literature, art, and life. This exhibition draws us toward the unexplored corners of her writing process and unknown aspects of her creative investments that only live in this archive,” Womack said. “In imagining this initiative—from exhibition to symposium to partner projects—I wanted to show the importance of the archive to understanding Morrison’s work and practice. But I also wanted to show how this archive in particular is a site that opens up new lines of inquiry and inspires new kinds of collaboration.”
From February 2023 to June 2023, there will be several exhibits at the prestigious Ivy League institution that chronicle Morrison’s life and work.
From February 22, 2023, through June 4, 2023, Toni Morrison: Sites of Memory will be on view at Princeton University Library's Milberg Gallery at the Princeton University Art Museum’s [email protected], featuring critically-acclaimed artist Alison Saar.
From March 24, 2023 and March 25, 2023, the McCarter Theatre, a Tony Award-winning performing arts center on the Princeton University’s campus, will stage performances by artists Daniel Alexander Jones and Mame Diarra Samantha Speis, who both drew inspiration for their original works from Morrison's canon.
In addition, Princeton University Concerts is set to co-present a newly commissioned work featuring three-time Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, who will stage two performances on April 12, 2023, at Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.
In the spring of 2023, Dr. Farrah Jasmine Griffith, Director-Elect of the Columbia University Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University and a friend of Morrison, will present the Morrison Lectures, which is sponsored by the Department of African American Studies at Princeton.
Additionally, children’s programming and undergraduate courses on Morrison’s work will be offered.
Ever since Morrison's retirement in 2006, the Princeton University community has sought to preserve her work. In 2017, West College, the building that housed Princeton's Office of the Dean of the College was renamed Toni Morrison Hall, making her the first African American to have a building named after her on the Ivy League campus.
“This is a very, very special, beautiful occasion for me,” Morrison said at the time of the prestigious honor.
Womack hopes the community-wide series will reveal other facets of Morrison's legacy.
“There is not a corner of Princeton University, Black creative life, and cultural production that Toni Morrison has not impacted,” said Womack. “This initiative, we hope, will begin to bring to the surface new aspects of that wide impact.”