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Dawoud Bey in Whatever Gets You Through the Night

A popular myth of the 20th and 21st centuries has been that the world used to be a simpler place, and that life in modern times has become increasingly chaotic and complex. The reality is that life has been perpetually hard for most. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly intensified our daily challenges. Societal challenges become pressing personal struggles: our health and wellness, our economic stability, systemic disenfranchisement, racism, xenophobia, isolation, and more. Amid these personal and shared trials, how do we cope? Where do we go to seek relief? Who or what makes us feel better? How do we heal?

Whatever Gets You Through the Night presents figurative and abstract artworks that convey sources of worry and angst contrasted with the ways many people find daily relief. Nature, spirituality, personal relationships, self-medication, and memorials are among the subjects represented in the selected works. Featured artists include Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Adrian Piper, Derrick Adams, Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett, Dawoud Bey, Kerry James Marshall, Whitfield Lovell, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Carrie Mae Weems, Samuel Levi Jones and more.