DelArt supporters Sheridan and Stephen Kingsberry spoke with us about their passion for art and sharing it with others.
Stephen: I studied art in college, and I landed on the difficult medium of copper. I worked in mass transit for 35 years, but I really love art. I had an exhibition of my copper works at the Redding Gallery in Wilmington last year.
Sheridan: We have always loved art. I came from a working-class farming family in Grenada, but growing up we had original art in our home, which included works from local artists. I love art and I love visiting museums.
We first visited the Delaware Art Museum when I moved to Delaware in 2000. It was a chilly environment for me then. I’ve been watching the changes at this Museum ever since. We both really started becoming involved when Sam Sweet arrived [DelArt’s former Executive Director]. He invited us in, and I don’t think we’d been invited before. We haven’t left since— we feel comfortable here now.
Stephen: Today, the Museum has a welcoming environment, and the subject matter of the exhibits has varied widely. I remember when DelArt presented the exhibitions exploring 1968 and race. It was rewarding to see the history presented within the art on view.
Sheridan: And the programming! It’s great to see the Native American community holding a Powwow here, the cultural programs hosted by Hispanic, Asian, and African American community members. I love the jazz series on Thursday evenings, which brings in varied artists. And I look forward to coming and relaxing at the Thursday night Happy Hours during the summer.
I’ve seen the Museum put significant financial resources on the table to support these programs, exhibitions, and acquisitions. It’s not just that they say they value these things, they put money behind them. That’s very impressive to me.
We believe in endowments. Sustainability is critically important, because one day we’re not going to be here to donate. But if we endow funds for what we believe in now, we are making an impact for generations to come. We support the Diverse Exhibition Fund to continue the exhibitions and programs that reflect the diversity of our community. Those funds ensure this work carries on, long after we close our eyes and go on to be with the Lord. The art is still here for others to enjoy.
Stephen: And from a historic point of view, the art is here for new generations to learn from, to get to know their history, to know the struggles that people went through to get to where we are today.
Sheridan: We brought our 15-month-old grandniece to the Christian Robinson exhibit last summer. We took home a poster from the exhibit, and she’ll grow up with that art on her bedroom wall, seeing the work of a Black illustrator.
Still, DelArt is not as well-known as it could be in the African American community. That’s one of the things I’m working on with the Community Engagement Committee—making others aware of the bounties that are here. I’ve learned so much as a DelArt member—like about artist Charles Ethan Porter, whose work the Museum recently acquired. I’m excited to help more people of color know about this Museum and all it has to offer. I’m excited about the James Newton exhibition—we knew him personally; he was a mentor of Stephen’s. I’ve already begun talking with friends about the upcoming There Is a Woman in Every Color exhibit. I think the Museum is really stretching, and we have to let everybody know.
Thank you, Sheridan and Stephen, for your generous support and advocacy for the Delaware Art Museum.
Interested in learning more about the Diverse Exhibition Fund? Please contact Amelia Wiggins, Director of Advancement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 302.351.8503.