July 23, 2007
WOOSTER, Ohio — One of the premier collections of African American art will be on display this fall when The College of Wooster Art Museum presents “The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper” along with “Selections from the AT&T Collection” Aug. 28 through Oct. 28 in the Sussel Gallery and the Burton D. Morgan Gallery located in Ebert Art Center (1220 Beall Ave.).
The exhibition spans three centuries, and includes approximately 69 etchings, lithographs, watercolors, acrylics, gouaches, and linoleum and color screen prints by more than 52 noted African American artists. Some of the artists represented in the exhibition include John Biggers, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Robert Blackburn, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Charles Louis Sallee, Jr., Elizabeth Catlett, and Alison Saar. The earliest work in the exhibition is by Grafton Tyler Brown (1841-1918), the first documented professional graphic artist on the West Coast. The majority of the works in the exhibition were produced during the 1930s and 40s, and many of the artists in the Kelley Collection have ties to African American community cultural centers, including Cleveland's Karamu House, the Harlem Community Art Center, and Chicago's South Side Community Art Center.
David Driskell, professor emeritus of African American Art at the University of Maryland, College Park, calls the Kelley collection “one of the finest that has been assembled tracing the history of African American Art.” Corrine Jennings, director of the Wilmer Jennings/Kenkeleba Gallery, stated that the works in the Kelley collection have “a narrative and descriptive thrust that is centered on the social and economic history of African Americans in the United States and presents a kaleidoscopic view of Black life in cultural history.”
Harmon Kelley, an obstetrician-gynecologist, and Harriet, a college-educated biologist, began collecting in 1987 after visiting an exhibition of African American art at the San Antonio Museum of Art, where they realized that they did not recognize any of the artists’ names. Feeling a sense of cultural isolation, the couple vowed to educate themselves and their two daughters about this little-known aspect of their heritage. Thus began a commitment to accumulating what has become “one of the largest and most comprehensive private collections of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by leading African American artists of the 19th and 20th centuries,” according to Regenia A. Perry, professor emerita of African and African American Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.
In addition to the works on paper from the Kelley Collection, works from the AT&T Art Collection by Romare Bearden, Willie Cole, Sam Gilliam, and Carrie Mae Weems will be presented. The AT&T art collection is a survey of more than 5,000 works of contemporary American art. Launched in 1988, the AT&T collection is an educational resource, reinforcing a commitment to support the arts within their communities. Outreach includes displaying collections in AT&T corporate campuses as well as loaning exhibits to universities and museums.
“The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper” was organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions of Los Angeles. This exhibition was funded, in part, by grants from the AT&T Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council, with additional support from The Julia Shoolroy Halloran Fund.
Events associated with this exhibition include the opening reception on Thursday, Sept. 6, from 6-8 p.m. with a gallery talk at 7 p.m. by Jacqueline Francis, assistant professor of the history of art at the University of Michigan. There will also be a Conversation in the Galleries on Thursday, Sept. 20, from 12-1 p.m. with Kitty McManus Zurko, Director/Curator of The College of Wooster Art Museum, and a lecture by artist Alison Saar on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in Rm. 223 of Ebert Art Center. In addition, there will be a Music in the Galleries event by the Wooster Gospel Choir on Thursday, Oct. 4, from 7-8 p.m., and a Faculty Roundtable on Thursday, Oct. 18, from 7-8 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.
The College of Wooster Art Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. All receptions, lectures, exhibitions, and performances are free and open to the public. Group and class tours are also available.
For more information, call 330-263-2388 or visit.
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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