Friday, December 13, 2013

Supporting African American Art and Artists: Select HBCUs

This is the third of a four part series, focusing on ways to support African American art and artists. This current post focuses on the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), highlighting the Spelman College Museum of Art and the Clark Atlanta University Galleries, both of which are are located in Atlanta, Georgia. These two institutions are among many HBCUs vying for financial support, gifts, and volunteer services for the fine arts. Galleries and museums at HBCUs, as is the case with all arts institutions, are struggling to maintain, to grow, and in some cases to even survive. As alumni and friends of these institutions, our contributions are a tremendous help with operating expenses. 

Because only two of the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are featured, the following Website may be used as an effective starting point to identify an even larger number of HBCUs with a gallery or museum: If your alma mater does not have a gallery or museum, consider supporting that institution in some other way. If you are not a college graduate or not a graduate of an HBCU, then consider adopting one of these institutions whose vision strike you in a positive way. 

In order to remain viable and relevant during these critical economic times,  these institutions need the collective support of all of us with an interest in African American art. As we approach the new year, this is a great time, before 2013 comes to a close, to think how might I help one of these institutions in some small way. Perhaps, renewing an annual membership or even considering an up grade to the next level of a membership category; giving a membership as a gift to a friend or relative; giving an outright gift to an institution; or even offering to volunteer.
Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries
Trevor Arnett Hall, 2nd Level
Art Collections     
Culture for Service
Clark Atlanta University is the proud steward of several cultural treasures.  Renowned for its historic and comprehensive African-American Art Collection, the University also houses small, yet notable, African and Contemporary art collections. Highlighting these treasures is a series of six murals, titled “Art of the Negro,” painted by celebrated artist and teacher, Hale Woodruff (1900-1980).


Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries, 2011

The African-American Art Collection 
The African-American Art Collection came into being as a result of annual art exhibitions inaugurated by Hale Aspacio Woodruff. The purpose of the annual exhibitions, which  continued from 1942 to 1970, was to afford African-American artists, who had at the time few opportunities to exhibit, a forum in which to display their works.  Purchase prizes were awarded in various categories and Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) gradually came into possession of a considerable collection. Close to 900 African-American artists from all over the country participated in the annual exhibitions during those years. The works of some 155 of them initiated the core of the present collection.

Calvin Burnett, The Box, 1966, Pastel,
20¼" x 24¾" 
William Artis, Woman with Kerchief, 1939, Ceramic, 9½" x 8¼"

Each year the annual exhibition was awaited with great anticipation by both African-American artists nationwide and the Atlanta arts community.  For the artists, the Annuals established aesthetic criteria by which they judged themselves as “having made it” or “having arrived.” It became the equivalent of having one’s art show in a “mainstream” museum. According to Margaret Burroughs, founder of the DuSable Museum of Chicago and co-founder of the  National Conference of Artists, “We would not have developed to where we are without the Atlanta Annuals.” 
                                                       Mama Judie MacDonald, Checkerboard Quilt,                                                          1969, Textile, 103½" x 79½"  

Hale Woodruff,

Night-Blooming Cereus, c. 1936

  Oil on canvas, 31" x 21"   

Overall, the Annuals brought to the permanent collection 291 paintings, prints, and sculptures  by such leading artists as Charles White, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Irene Clark, Ellis Wilson, William Artis, Lois Mailou Jones, John Wilson, Wilmer Jennings, Hayward Oubre and many others. Through periodic purchases and gifts of benefactors and artists, the University also acquired works by Henry Ossawa Tanner, William Edouard Scott, Mildred Thompson, Freddie Styles, Stefanie Jackson, Radcliffe Bailey, Larry Walker, Norman Lewis, Nellie Mae Rowe, Coreen Simpson and Sam Gilliam, bringing the total to 650 works

The Art of the Negro Murals
Installed in the Aspacio Atrium of Trevor-Arnett Hall are the Art of the Negro murals, painted  by Hale Woodruff in 1950-51. Consisting of six panels on canvas, the murals depict the cultural art history of African and other tribal art forms, which subsequently impacted on Western art.  Explicit attention is given to the emergence and presence of the visual artists in the African Diaspora.  The Art of the Negro series is considered to be among the more outstanding murals in the American art tradition.

Trevor Arnett Hall, Art Galleries Aspacio Atrium, 2011

Hale Woodruff
Art of the Negro: Interchange: Panel 2/6, 1950-1951
Oil on canvas, 11' x 11'

The Contemporary Art Collection 
Clark Atlanta University has been the grateful recipient of valuable gifts in its contemporary collection.  Chauncey Waddell, a former Trustee, and his wife Catherine Hughes, and more recently his son Theodore Waddell have presented a collection in excess of 80 works by notable European-American artists, including Eugene Higgins, Will Barnett, John Marin, Isabel Bishop, I. Rice Pereira, Edwin Dickinson, and Larry Rivers.

Spelman College Museum of Fine Art
350 Spelman Lane, Box 1526

About the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art
The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is the only museum in the nation that
emphasizes art by and about women of the African Diaspora. Since the Museum opened in 1996, it has established an impressive track record for organizing first-rate, mission-specific, art exhibitions that expand contemporary offerings in Atlanta and the southeast region. It has garnered a reputation for organizing exhibitions that merit national and international attention. Milestones include being selected as the first institution from the United States that jointly (along with the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston) represented the United States at the 2012 Havana Biennial in Havana, Cuba. The Museum is poised to continue its trajectory of pursuing ambitious relevant projects that have a lasting impact.

The Spelman College Collection     
The Spelman College permanent collection dates to the 1940s and includes more than 350  objects. African, ethnographic, and three-dimensional artifacts comprise the core of the permanent holdings. The collection of African art  includes works by peoples of Cameroon, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and South Africa. In addition, the permanent holdings include works by celebrated African American artists, including Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, Hale Woodruff, and many others. Marìa Magdalena Campos-Pons, Lalla Essaydi, Ingrid Mwangi, Robert Hutter, and Nandipha Mntambo are amongst the roster of artists from Africa and the African Diaspora whose works are represented in the College's growing collection. To honor its unique mission, the Museum strives to acquire art that highlight the spectrum of works that women artists of Africa and the African Diaspora create.

Friends of the Museum
Friends of the Museum are vital to the Museum's success. Support from Friends enable the Museum to focus on its three priorities: presenting original exhibitions, organizing engaging and interdisciplinary programs, and growing
the Spelman College permanent collection. As a Friend of this unique institution, members enjoy a host of benefits and opportunities commensurate with increased levels of support, including social events with artists and museum professionals, priority registration for regional, national, and international art excursions, exclusive behind-the-scene tours, previews of exhibitions, and much more.

 Supporting African American Art and Artists: The Series
This series of posts on Supporting African American Art and Artists is divided into four distinct parts; the first focused on the "mainstream" museums; the second focused on the African American Museums and Cultural Centers; the third, which is presented in this post, focuses on galleries and museums in the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The fourth and final post will focus on African American artist groups. 

Mainstream Museum Special Groups 
Mainstream Museum Special Groups (Addendum) 
African American Museums 

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