Skip to main content

Marlene McCarty, Erik Reece featured in conversation on image-making, evolution

By Micha'la Hood

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 30, 2022) — Along with her University of Kentucky Art Museum exhibition, “Thicker than Water,” artist Marlene McCarty will join author and UK English professor Erik Reece and museum director Stuart Horodner to talk about image-making and evolution.

The panel presented by UK Art Museum will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Singletary Center for the Arts Recital Hall. This event is free and open to the public.

A native of Lexington, McCarty is a visual artist who is based in New York. A professor at New York University, she is widely known for her drawings, which she uses as a method of activism, chiefly surrounding AIDS. As an activist, McCarty has performed multiple public interventions using her art to advertise for her leading cause. Through these interventions, she has been able to put pressure on community decision-makers and helped bring awareness to the experiences of gay and lesbian communities.

McCarty's work has been featured in multiple art institutions across the nation including the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Reece studied at UK and went on to write "An American Gospel: On Family, History and the Kingdom of God" and "Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness." His work has been featured in Harper's, Orion, The Oxford American, The New York Times and others.

Reece works as an English professor at UK in the Department of English and is affiliate faculty in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program and Appalachian Center. His new book, "A Theory of Grandeur," recollects the tale of Charles Darwin and his journey through the Galapagos Islands.

The “Thicker than Water” exhibition raises questions about memory, legacy, and the complex space that exists between nature and nurture. The show includes a monumental drawing that features male and female caregivers who nurse, comfort and communicate with several chimpanzees. The humans are partially nude, reducing the differences between themselves and the chimps, and suggesting a clear lineage and inter-species intimacy. This exhibition is the first time McCarty is exhibiting in her hometown. 

For more information about this event or the exhibition, visit

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.