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Princeton University to honor author Toni Morrison in a series of events this year

File photo: Toni Morrison speaks at Princeton University in 2017 during the dedication ceremony for Morrison Hall. Princeton University Communications photo by Nick Donnoli.

Princeton University will celebrate the work and life of writer Toni Morrison in 2023 with a community-wide series of art exhibitions and events exploring her creative process and its impact on the world.

Morrison, who died in 2019, was a lecturer at the university for 17 years. She came to Princeton in 1989 to teach literature and creative writing and transferred to emeritus status at the university in 2006. The Nobel laureate played a crucial role in expanding the university’s commitments to the creative and performing arts and African American studies. In 1994, she founded the Princeton Atelier, which brings together undergraduate students with acclaimed artists for collaborations.

In 2016, Princeton University Library representatives announced that the major portion of Morrison’s papers, which had been part of the permanent library collections since 2014, was open for research to students, faculty, and scholars worldwide. In 2017, the university honored Morrison by renaming West College “Morrison Hall.”

The exhibition “Toni Morrison: Sites of Memory” begins Feb. 22 at Princeton University Library’s Millberg Gallery.

Artists Daniel Alexander Jones and Mame Diarra Samantha Speis will hold public performances at McCarter Theatre on March 24 and 25. They will respond to Morrison’s archive and influence through original work.

A three-day symposium and lecture series will take place in the spring. More than 30 authors and artists will come together to discuss Morrison’s legacy.

Other events will include Princeton University Art Museum’s presentation of “Cycle of Creativity: Alison Saar and the Toni Morrison Papers.” The show will pair Morrison’s writings with sculptures, prints, and textiles by Saar to explore their relationship with the Black American experience. The show runs from Feb. 25 through July 9.

“It is difficult to overstate the importance of Toni Morrison’s writing to American literature, art, and life,” said Autumn Womack, an assistant professor of English and African American Studies, in a written statement. “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.”