Carl Pope (American, b. 1961)

Carl Pope's artistic practice is committed to the idea of art as a catalyst for individual and collective transformation.  

An early influence in his artistic practice was his high school photography teacher, Donna Hostettler, who endorsed the notion that art is an effective tool for positive social change. Her primary example was photography’s role in changing public support of the Vietnam War. She said, “It was not the protests that changed America’s understanding for the Vietnam War but the daily exhibition of horrific images in the media that swayed popular opinion about it.” 

Pope continued his work in this direction through his undergraduate years at Southern Illinois University. After graduating in 1984, Pope returned to Indianapolis to work as a freelance photographer in advertising and commercial photography while exhibiting his personal projects. His photographic and multi media investigations of the socio-economic landscape of Indianapolis earned critical acclaim at prestigious venues like the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. The installation “The Black Community: An Ailing Body” received support from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts in 1993. 

His work gained national and international exposure in two exhibits:  New Photgraphy 6 at the Museum of Modern Art and Black Male, at the Whitney Museum.  Pope frequently works in large-scale public art and collaborates with communities and cities to stimulate public dialogue and revitalization.  

Pope expanded his public art practice with projects in Hartford, Ct, Atlanta and New York for “Black Male” at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1996, Pope enrolled in the MFA program at Indiana University and widened his conceptual concerns to include an investigation of the Self. The initial excursions into his own interior landscape produced Palimpsest, a video/writing project with twin sister Karen Pope. 

Palimpsest, commissioned by the Wadsworth Athenaeum with grants from the Warhol and Lannan foundations, was included in the Whitney Biennial 2000 exhibition. Pope’s most recent installation of letterpress posters called The Bad Air Smelled of Roses continues his ongoing exploration into inner space. 

“I am navigating my interiority in order to enrich my life and to find stimulating ways to create epiphany and revelation within the imagination of my audience.”  


B.A. in Cinema and Photography,  Southern Illinois University  (1984)

Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine  (1997)

National Graduate Photography Seminar, New York University (1998)

M.F.A. in Photography, Indiana University (1999)


Visiting Lecturer, University of North Carolina (1999)
Asst Professor, State University of New York at Stony Brook (2000-2003)
Asst Professor University of Illinois, Chicago (2003-2004)
Joint Fellow, The Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University
and Cleveland Institute of Art (2007)

Solo Exhibitions:

Carl Pope, Jr.-Matrix 138 , Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, CT, 

A Celebration of Blackness, Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL
The Bad Air Smelled of Roses, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT and Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY

The Mind of Cleveland, Cleveland Institute of Art

The Bad Air Smelled of Roses, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN
The Wall Remixed , Philagrafika Arts Festival, Philadelphia, PA
The Nashville Poster Project , Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN

Silent Wishes, reinstalled at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Hartford, CT

Group Exhibitions:

Signs of Life, The Contemporary, Atlanta, GA

Black Now, (curated by Fred Wilson) Longwood Art Gallery, Bronx, NY
Words Fail Me, Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, MI
The Color Line, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY
Air Kissing , Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY

Black Is/Black Ain't , Renaissance Society, Chicago, IL

Your Documents Please (traveling international exhibition, through 2012)
Eat the Frame, Galerie Nouvelles Images, Den Haag, The Netherlands

Pulling from History: Letterpress, The Print Center, Philadelphia, PA
It's Who You Know, Projects Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Medium Resistance, Crane Arts/Icebox, Philadelphia, PA

Inaugural Exhibition, Agape Enterprises, Brooklyn, NY

Selected Public Collections:

George Eastman House/ Kodak, Rochester, NY
Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Mobile Museum of Art
Museum of Modern Art, NY
St Louis Art Museum
The Children's Museum, Indianapolis, IN
The Whitney Museum of Art, NY


National Endowment of the Arts, Visual Artist Fellowship  (1993)
The Lilly Endowment (1996)
Andy Warhol Foundation  (1999)
Lannan Foundation (1999)
Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2005)
Joint Fellow, Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art (2007)
The International Peace Belt (2011)


Black Male, Whitney Museum of American Art, Abrams (1992)
Palimpsest, Wadsworth Athenaeum  (1999)
Whitney Biennial 2000, The Whitney Museum of American Art (2000)
Committed to the Image, Brooklyn Museum, Merril (2001)
Postmodernism, Cambridge University Press  (2002)


Printmaking, Photography, Installations, Multi-Media