Grant to support 2021 restaging of the 1971 exhibition “Afro-American Images”
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved an Art Works award of $25,000 to the Delaware Art Museum for the 2021 restaging of Afro-American Images 1971. This is one of 1,015 grants nationwide that the agency has approved in this category.
The exhibition, on view October 23, 2021 through January 23, 2022, will reunite 130 works of art in various media by 66 artists of color from an exhibition that took place in 1971 in the Armory in Wilmington. This restaging marks the 50th anniversary of the original exhibition, organized by the local arts organization known as Aesthetic Dynamics. The Museum’s Curator of Contemporary Art, Margaret Winslow, and Aesthetic Dynamics’ Vice President, Arnold Hurtt, have organized the exhibition with support from an extensive community advisory committee.
The exhibition explores the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s and 1970s, focusing on major influencers such as James A. Porter, Percy Ricks, and Aesthetic Dynamics. Visitors can expect to examine different definitions of Black art through a critical lens and to learn about local contributions to the national Black Arts Movement. Accompanying the visual art is a digital humanities project that aims to collect oral histories from community members. The Museum encourages anyone interested in sharing their knowledge or experience concerning the original 1971 exhibition, the Black Arts Movement, or Wilmington’s artistic history to contact our Curator of Contemporary Art at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 302-351-8539.
“Through this restaging, we are combatting historical amnesia and doing everything that we can to ensure that the archival record is as complete as possible,” says Winslow. “With the 2021 presentation of Afro-American Images, we have a remarkable opportunity to look back at how Wilmington played a role in the Black Arts Movement. What were the reasons for Ricks’ exhibition then and what stories does it tell today? Why was the Delaware Art Museum not an active partner with Aesthetic Dynamics in 1971? Today, the Delaware Art Museum seeks to bring art into the lives of the community in ways that support myriad interests and involves authentic civic engagement. Restaging the original exhibition, 50 years later, addresses numerous historic gaps such as the biased archival record and lack of local institutional support. By collaborating with Aesthetic Dynamics members 50 years later the Delaware Art Museum is afforded the opportunity to investigate its engagement with the Black community. As we certainly see in the Museum’s own renewed focus on acquiring work specifically of women and artists of color, this is still such an important aspect of the curatorial work that we do at this museum.”
The lack of research about this historic exhibition relative to its artistic merit is one reason the Museum is embarking on this exhibition. This restaging will reunite works by nationally established artists such as Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Loïs Mailou Jones, Faith Ringgold, Raymond Saunders, Alma Thomas, and Hale Woodruff. This exhibition is not to be missed.
Acknowledgement of Support
Afro-American Images 1971: The Vision of Percy Ricks was organized by the Delaware Art Museum and Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. The Delaware Art Museum is sponsored by DuPont, by Bank of America, by Corteva, and by M&T Bank. This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.
For more information on this National Endowment for the Arts grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.
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About the Delaware Art Museum</>
For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art on display outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art. Embracing all disciplines, the Museum’s Performance Series ranges from concerts by Pyxis Piano Quartet, resident ensemble of over ten years, to cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary artists committed to social justice and pushing the boundaries of artistic practice.
Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences.