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Successions: Prints by African American Artists from the Jean and Robert Steele Collection
February 12 - June 4, 2006
(above: Varnette Honeywood, Leave No Child Behind, 1993, Silkscreen)
Successions: Prints by African American Artists from the Jean and Robert Steele Collection, an exhibition of works by some of the most highly regarded Black American artists, opens February 12, 2006 at the Wichita Art Museum, and will remain on view through June 4, 2006. (right: William T. Williams, Caravan, 199, Lithograph, 11/19)
"Our founder, Louise Caldwell Murdock, insisted that we be one of the first American art museums to show and integrate works by minority artists," explains Charles K. Steiner, Museum director. "Thus, the Wichita Art Museum has been showing such artists as Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Horace Pippin, and Ben Shahn from a time when few other mainstream institutions recognized their greatness. The Successions exhibition provides a remarkable opportunity for the Wichita Art Museum to further our founder's goal of celebrating the contributions of Black Americans to our country's cultural history."
Forty-five artists, using traditional printmaking techniques such as etching, monoprint, lithography, linocut and silkscreen, created the sixty-two works on display in the exhibition. The extraordinary depth of this collection provides an opportunity to appreciate a variety of styles and thematic expressions embodied in the works by some of the most celebrated African American artists of the 20th century. Important to the exhibition are prints by Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, David C. Driskell, Margo Humphrey, Emma Amos and James L. Wells.
Many other seminal African American artists such as Benny Andrews, Bob Blackburn, Robert Colescott, Stephanie Pogue, Allan R. Crite, Lois Mailou Jones, Betty Saar, Sam Gilliams, Samella Lewis, Lou Stovall and William T. Williams are featured in this exhibition. The works of these influential figures, as well as those of emerging and mid-career artists, inform the viewer of the significant role the print medium has in African American visual culture.
The works in this exhibition represent the remarkable breadth of the Jean and Robert Steele collection. For the last three decades, the Steeles have developed a collection of over 400 prints and works on paper by African American artists.
Instrumental in the Steele's collecting has been their patronage of printmaking workshops that have been established by, and focus on, African American artists such as Bob Blackburn's Printmaking Workshop, Inc. in New York City; Allan Edmunds' Brandywine Workshop, Philadelphia, PA; Lou Stovall's Workshop, Inc. and Percy Martin's WD Graphic Studio, both in Washington, D.C. In addition to workshops established by African Americans, works in the collection also represent various institutions with which Black Americans have collaborated, such as Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque, NM and the Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper, New Brunswick, NJ.
"The Steeles are endeavoring to create a systematic structure to support African American art," says exhibition curator Adrienne Childs in her catalogue essay. "Although there are few public or private collections of this nature, the Steeles recognize the need to support Black printmakers and the system that sustains them in order to ensure the longevity and vitality of this important medium." (left: Faith Ringgold, Sunflower Quilting Bee, 1996, Lithograph, 95/100 Faith Ringgold © 1996)
Accompanying the exhibition is a 48-page catalogue; including 28 color reproductions, an exhibition checklist, a glossary of printmaking terms, and texts by David C. Driskell, Jean and Robert Steele, and curator Adrienne Childs. The catalogue will be among the few which document the medium of printmaking by African American artists. The Committee on Race, Gender and Ethnicity at the University of Maryland provided generous support for the catalogue. The catalog will be available for purchase in the Museum Store.
This exhibition is organized by The Art Gallery, the Department of Art History and Archeology, and the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park. It is made possible by major support from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Consortium for Race, Gender, and Ethnicity, University of Maryland, College Park. The Wichita venue is made possible in part by the City of Wichita, the Sam and Rie Bloomfield Foundation, the Sedgwick County Government, the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum, Inc. and KMUW, Wichita Public Radio.
Collaboration with The Kansas African American Museum
The Wichita Art Museum and The Kansas African American Museum are joining forces in February to provide several outstanding programs throughout February 2006, Black History Month.
"With the exhibition Successions: Prints by African American Artists from the Jean and Robert Steele Collection opening at the Wichita Art Museum in February, it seemed only natural that we partner with The Kansas African American Museum to offer a particularly compelling programming schedule to the community," explains Charles K. Steiner, Wichita Art Museum director.
"We are pleased to partner with the Wichita Art Museum on this project," explains Eric Key, The Kansas African American Museum director. "Both institutions have excellent exhibitions and educational programming happening simultaneously; working together allows us to provide a complete package to the public."
Origin and the Landscape: Prints and Drawings by Lou Stovall will be on view at The Kansas African American Museum January 20, 2006 through June 1, 2006. Lou Stovall will provide a gallery talk during a reception honoring the exhibition Saturday, February 25 from 2 to 4 p.m. Admission to the reception is free.
(above: Tom Miller, Summer in Baltimore, 1994, Silkscreen)
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