African American art featured at Palmer Museum

By Sarah OlahCollegian Staff Writer

Works of African American art are featured at the Palmer Museum of Art to further tell the American story.

Joyce Robinson, museum curator, said it is important to add works by women and black artists.
“African American Art from the Permanent Collection” will be featured until June 5 at the museum. There are 15 pieces on display, which consist of mostly works on paper.

According to the museum’s website, the exhibition “highlights race and ethnicity within the rich fabric of American visual culture.”

Most of the works were purchased by the Palmer because staffers at the museum felt strongly about adding them to its collection, Robinson said.

Robinson said the museum is pleased to have enough works by black artists to stage an exhibition.

She said it is important to celebrate diversity and contributions from the artists.

“The work is poignant, political, exuberant and engaging,” Robinson said. “It is just a part of the story of American art.”

Robinson said deceased artist and alumnus John Biggers, Class of 1946, is a major figure of American Century art.

Robinson called Biggers’ 1964 drawing, “Going to Church,” a “powerful image” and
emphasized how beautifully dressed the people are in the drawing.

Other artists include Faith Ringgold, Romare Bearden and Sam Gilliam. These artists have contemporary paper works on display.

Curator of Education Dana Kletchka said there are a lot of famous works on display as well as a variety of different works by prominent artists.

She said the exhibition brings a “variety of perspectives under an umbrella of artists of color.”
Kletchka said it is important for anyone to come to the Palmer and see the world through another person’s eyes.

Lindah Mhando, assistant professor of African and African American studies and women studies, said students will like the exhibition.

“Students will appreciate the contents of that collection as very valuable pieces of documentation that might help connect dots relating to our involvement in the past world,” Mhando wrote in an e-mail.

She said each artist tells a story of “survival, tenacity, perseverance, humility and some defiance” — something she said everyone can relate to.