Museum of Art – DeLand Presents African American Art: We Too Dream America On View Through March 17th

Exhibition Includes 16 Works from the Museum’s Permanent Collection by Florida Artist Purvis Young

February 14th, 2019
Museum of Art – DeLand Presents African American Art: We Too Dream America On View Through March 17th

Romare Bearden, All the Things You Are, 1987, Watercolor and collage on paper, 40 x 30 inches

DELAND, FL – February 14, 2019 – In an article in Metropolitan Magazine in 1935, Harlem Renaissance sculptor Augusta Savage said she had “created nothing really beautiful, really lasting.”  Four years later, Savage received a commission from the New York World’s Fair. Inspired by the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which had come to be known as the “Negro national anthem,” Savage created a 16-foot plaster sculpture she titled “The Harp.” Alas, no funds were available to store the work or cast it in metal after the fair ended, and it was demolished.

But a smaller bronze version of “The Harp” survived. That work, as well as paintings, sculptures and mixed media works by Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence and 53 other artists, are featured in “African American Art: We Too Dream America,” an exhibition that runs through March 17 at the Museum of Art – DeLand.

Augusta Savage, The Harp (Lift Every Voice and Sing), circa 1939, Bronze, 10 ¾ x 9 ½ x 4 inches

A film series and jazz cabaret performance also will be presented at the Museum in conjunction with the exhibit.  Taking its title from the Langston Hughes poem “I, Too,” “We Too Dream America” features works that date from E.M. Bannister’s 1885 naturalist “Untitled Landscape” to Beverly McIver’s 2018 expressionist duo portrait, “Laughing with My Dad.” Diverse styles and media abound, from the cubist “Folk Singer,” a 1968 woodblock print by Samella Lewis; to the colorful “The Sleeping Lady and the Giant Who Watches Over Her,” a 1984 abstract expressionist acrylic by Gaye Ellington; to the huge, quilt-like “Jazz Stories: Mama Can Sing, Papa Can Blow #1: Somebody Stole My Broken Heart,” a 2004 fabric-bordered acrylic piece by Faith Ringgold.

The exhibition also includes 16 works from the Museum’s permanent collection by Purvis Young, an “outsider” artist from the Overtown neighborhood of Miami who one critic dubbed the “Picasso of the Ghetto.”

Purvis Young, Friends, circa 1995, Mixed media on found wood, 48 x 51 x 2 ½ inches

Guest curator Dorian Bergen, co-owner of ACA Galleries in New York City, said she wanted to create “a comprehensive show” that could also serve as “a teaching exhibition. I could have thrown in some very harsh, really heavy-duty social realism and highly political work. The struggle (of African Americans) is in there. Many of these works have a message in there, and you can find that message, but I wanted aesthetically beautiful works – to include the best examples by these artists. I just didn’t want guns and knives and blood. I wanted kids to be able to see this exhibit, to look at the art for the art’s sake.”

That teaching aspect is further enhanced by the inclusion of “artists that one would not necessarily know,” Bergen said. “That was important. I hit all the notes with Jacob Lawrence, Bearden, Bannister, Biggers, Colescott and Delaney. But then I wanted to put in Gaye Ellington, whose works I think are gorgeous, and nobody really knows her.

“And I wanted to include women such as Aminah Robinson. People don’t necessarily know of her, but she’s extraordinary. She stayed and lived and died in Columbus, Ohio, in the first publicly funded housing in the United States. She won a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2004. She can draw like an old master and I wanted people to see her work.”

Aminah Robinson, Maya Angelou/Poet – A Clutch of Blossom Series , 1990, Mixed media on pellon, 53 ½ x 21 ½ inches

African American Art: We Too Dream America runs through March 17th at the Museum of Art – DeLand, 600 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Gallery admission for this special exhibition is $10, free for Museum members and children 12 and younger. To book a group or for more information, calls the Museum at 386-734-4371 or visit www.MoArtDeland.org.

Events associated with the exhibit will be held at the museum and include:

Harlem Renaissance Film Series – Screenings will be 6 to 8 p.m. on show dates and will include time for guests to see the exhibition. Admission is free for members and $10 for non-members (who will receive the Museum’s 1 -2 -3 Ticket). Seating is limited and RSVPs are requested by calling 386-734-4371.

Jacob Lawrence: The Glory of Expression, Thursday February. 21.

Faith Ringgold: The Last Story Quilt and Betye and Alison Saar: Conjure Women of the Arts, Thursday March 7.

An Evening of Jazz and Multicolored Memories, Performance presented By Dr. Kitty Oliver, 5-7:30 p.m. Friday March 1. Admission is $10 members, $15 non-members, free for students and children. Oliver will present a cabaret performance of inspirational jazz vocals and literary stories tracing the common journey of native-born Americans and immigrants. This innovative “Race and Change” program has family-friendly appeal to audiences across races, ethnicities, cultures and generations and will use music and storytelling to relate history to the present and bring people together across cultures for an inspirational, entertaining event.

Oliver is an author, oral historian, media producer and singer with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing and a Ph.D. focusing on race and ethnic communication. A native Floridian and former university professor, she is founder of the “Race and Change” historical archive of cross-cultural race and ethnic relations oral histories, the only one of its size and scope in the country.

About the Museum of Art – DeLand

The Museum of Art – DeLand is a vital and interactive visual arts museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, display and educational use of the fine arts in Central Florida.  Established in 1951, the Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and is comprised of a 23,000 square foot arts facility housing five galleries on two levels located at 600 N. Woodland Blvd. and the Downtown Galleries located at 100 N. Woodland Blvd. Enriching the community through its permanent collection, art exhibitions and educational programs, the Museum is a source of cultural focus and is recognized statewide by its peers for academic excellence and community outreach.  The Museum is supported by its Guild, Krewe Nouveau, grants, admissions, generous patrons and donors, and Museum Store adjacent to its galleries in downtown DeLand.  To learn more about the Museum, its programming exhibits and opportunities to engage with the Arts visit us at www.MoArtDeLand.org or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.