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Sun, Nov 06


Stony Island Arts Bank

Mellon Archives Innovation Program #4: The Edward J. Williams Collection

Join us for this program as we focus on the postcards as objects of violence and care in the Edward J. Williams Collection.

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Mellon Archives Innovation Program #4: The Edward J. Williams Collection
Mellon Archives Innovation Program #4: The Edward J. Williams Collection

Time & Location

Nov 06, 2022, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM CST

Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S Stony Is Ave, Chicago, IL 60649, USA

About the event

Of the thousands of objects in the Edward J. Williams Collection , the postcards are particularly challenging. At face value they depict the most brutal and violent aspects of antiblack violence through racist stereotype, the romanticization of plantation life, and white supremacist ideation. When flipped over, these postcards contain notes of intimate address, as loved ones pen notes of affection intended to spark joy, thoughtfulness, and kinship. This juxtaposition– between violence and care– embodies the overwhelming force of this collection. The Edward J. Williams Collection contains 4,000 objects of “negrobilia” – mass cultural objects and artifacts that feature stereotypical antiblack images.

For this special program, artist and Mellon Archives Innovation Fellow Yaw Agyeman will preview some of his research on the postcards in the collection. Yaw's talk and performance is titled "Postcards and the sound of ________ in the Ed J. Williams Collection," and will consider the sounds that are present with him through his engagement with this collection.


In August 2022, Rebuild Foundation launched the Mellon Archives Innovation Program—a multifaceted initiative supporting the creation of new research, scholarship, and artistic production through engagement with Rebuild Foundation’s archival collections at the Stony Island Arts Bank.

Over the course of the next two years, Rebuild Foundation will fund and support the creation of new work inspired by our four permanent archives. The four inaugural fellows are singer, songwriter, and musician Corrine Bailey Rae, interdisciplinary performing artist Yaw Agyeman; professor and performance studies scholar Dr. Honey Crawford; and composer and cornetist Ben LaMar Gay.

The Mellon Archives Innovation Program also makes space for the public to engage with the ongoing research and exploration taking place in the archives. Collection tours and a speaker series will invite fellows and researchers to showcase and discuss select objects from the collections at the Arts Bank. Learn more about the initiative, programs, and fellows at

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