Negritude – An Exhibition of African American Art

Curator’s note

Thank you for viewing the National Alliance of Artists from Historical Black Colleges and Universities’ traveling exhibition from HBCU’s. The organization was founded in 1999 to bring Art and Art Education to the forefront, provide expressive dialogue, opportunities to exhibit and educate the populous through the visual arts. The organization has approximately 90 members representing over 50 black colleges and universities. All artists in the exhibit “negritude” are professional artists and educators who were/or are affiliated with Historical Black Colleges and Universities in the USA.

The exhibition you are viewing includes works from the Harlem Renaissance (1918- to mid 1930s) and the black movements (1950-1960s). All artists represented are in private collections, galleries and museums in the USA.

The legendary artists depicted in the exhibition are from private and institutional collections. These artists are: Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891- 1978), recognized as a major US American painter of the 20th century; Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012), an American Mexican printmaker, muralist, painter and sculptor; who studied under the famous American artist Grant Woods, her works focuses on mostly black women and their experiences; Claude Clark (1915-2001), painter and printmaker, emphasizes the diaspora of the black American culture, including dances, landscapes, religious and political satire images; Al Hollingsworth (1928- 2000), illustrator and painter was one of the first black artist illustrators in comic books; Jacob Lawrence (1917 – 2000), painter and printmaker works focus on black American historical subjects and contemporary life. Lawrence is considered the most widely acclaimed black American artist of the century, and one of few in standard survey books on American art; Benny Andrews, (1930-2006), painter, printmaker, related his art to the black culture experience; Varnetta Honeywood (1950-2010), painter and printmaker known for her use of color, pattern and texture; and Louis J. Delsarte (1944 – 2020) painter, printmaker, and muralist, is known for his “illusionistic” style.

In general members of the National Alliance of Artists are noted artists who have been taught by recognized post Harlem Renaissance artists and/or have received many honors and rewards for their art, examples of a few represented in the exhibit are: Lee Ransaw, painter and muralist, founder of the National Alliance of Artists, he is included in the Georgia’s History Makers, a recognized published collection of noted African Americans; Dennis Winston, renowned printmaker specializing in woodblock prints; received 2020 Award of Distinction for Printmaking for his woodcut print “Royal Gold” in the 2020 Virginia Artist Annual Exhibition, Hampton, Virginia. The Wilton House Museum in 2021 commissioned Winston to illustrate “Wilton Uncovered: How Archeology Illuminates an Enslaved Community”; renowned Kevin Cole, sculptor and mix media painter, is the recipient of the Georgia Museum of Art “Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Award for 2020; Cole and Peggy Blood trained under John Howard who received tutelage under Harlem Renaissance artist Hale Woodruff. Blood was selected as the 2020 artist of the year for the Destig Magazine, and Bryan Wilson is the 2020 recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation. It’s Wilson’s second award from the Foundation.

Many NAAHBCU artists have roots in the South and feel strongly about issues that affect everyone such as racial justice, law & order, social welfare, education and Civil Rights. These are dominant issues in the Black community. The National Alliance of Artists from Historical Black colleges are delighted to share visually their expressive deep feelings on these issues.

– Peggy Blood
Distinguished Professor
Fine Arts Humanities and Wellness
Savannah State University

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