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McKelvey School of Engineering

Brown School

Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Teaching Fellow Lecture: Crystal Z Campbell

Wednesday, October 4 | 5:30 PM

Steinberg Hall, Steinberg Auditorium
Steinberg Hall, St. Louis, MO

Multidisciplinary artist, experimental filmmaker, and writer Crystal Z Campbell will deliver the fall 2023 Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Teaching Fellow Lecture.

Campbell’s creative research centers public secrets and the underloved, reflected in an archive-driven practice. Informed by rumor and anti-institutional forms of historical transmission alongside gaps in archival repositories and recorded histories, Campbell’s work lends attention to events, places, and people that have been underacknowledged. Campbell’s works on Henrietta Lacks — a Black woman whose cells were taken without consent and became the backbone of the biotech industry via the first immortal cell line — reflect Campbell’s interest in the intersections of perception and the optics of historical transmission. Intrigued by whispers, epigenetics, social and spatial histories, and embodiment as an archival form, Campbell is most known for time-based installations that combine archival traces, strategic opacity, abstraction, and the architectural and site histories of each location.

Image: Ode to the Underloved (featuring REVOLVER), Film Installation at Artists Space, 2023, photo by Destiny Mata

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations


Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts


Arts & Culture



Event Contact

Melissa Meinzer

Speaker Information

Crystal Z Campbell is a multidisciplinary artist; experimental filmmaker; and writer of Black, Filipinx, and Chinese descent. Campbell finds complexity in public secrets — fragments of information known by many but undertold or unspoken. Campbell’s works use underloved archival material to consider historical gaps and the optics of historical transmission — from questions of immortality and medical ethics with Henrietta Lacks’ “immortal” cell line to gentrification and cultural preservation via a 35mm film relic salvaged from a demolished Black activist theater in Brooklyn.

Campbell’s multi-year projects on Greenwood and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre include Notes From Black Wall Street, a series of collaged and archival photographs painted with paint as thick as scars that mark how centuries long silent histories are registered and embodied. Campbell’s most recent film, REVOLVER, is an archive of pareidolia (a situation in which someone sees a pattern or image of something that does not exist) narrated by a descendant of Exodusters. Campbell’s creative practice spans painting, sculpture, performance, film, writing, and installations that are often site-responsive.

Campbell was the recipient of a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts and a 2022 Creative Capital award. Other honors include a Harvard Radcliffe Fellowship, Pollock-Krasner Award, MAP Fund, MacDowell, Skowhegan, Rijksakademie, Whitney ISP, and Franklin Furnace Award. Exhibitions and screenings include MOMA, Artists Space, Bemis, SFMOMA, Drawing Center, ICA-Philadelphia, REDCAT, MAG Rochester, SculptureCenter, MIT List Center, Block Museum, Walker Art Center, EMPAC, BAM, and DocLisboa. Campbell was a featured filmmaker at the 67th Flaherty Film Seminar. Their latest film, REVOLVER, received the Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival and was featured in the 2023 Berlinale Expanded Film Forum. Campbell’s artwork and films are held by MIT List Center, Duke University, MAG Rochester, Harvard Film Archive, and other collections in the U.S. and abroad.

Campbell’s writing is featured in two artist books published by Visual Studies Workshop Press, World Literature Today, Monday Journal, GARAGE, and Hyperallergic. Campbell is currently a visiting associate professor at the University at Buffalo and lives between New York and Oklahoma.

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