12:10pm

Fri February 28, 2014
Arts & Culture

Hunter Museum Features 'African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond'

Chattanooga' Hunter Museum of American Art currently features an exhibition of 20th-century African-American art, with works from 43 black artists.

From a media release:

The Hunter Museum of American Art is proud to present “African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era and Beyond,” an exhibition from the Smithsonian American Art Museum comprised of a selection of works by 43 black artists who lived through the tremendous changes of the 20th century. In paintings, sculpture, prints and photographs, the featured artists embrace themes both universal and specific to the African American experience, including the exploration of identity, the struggle for equality, the power of music and the beauties and hardships of life in rural and urban America.

“African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era and Beyond” will be on view at the Hunter Museum from February 14 through May 25. The exhibition is organized by Virginia Mecklenburg, chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“This exhibition allows us to understand profound change through the eyes of artists,” said Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “These works by African American artists are vital to understanding the complex American experience.”

The 100 works on view are drawn entirely from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s rich collection of African American art, the largest and finest in the United States. More than half of the works featured are being exhibited by the museum for the first time, including paintings by Benny Andrews, Loïs Mailou Jones and Jacob Lawrence, as well as photographs by Roy DeCarava, Gordon Parks and Marilyn Nance. Several of the artists in this exhibition also have works in the Hunter Museum’s permanent collection, such as Jacob Lawrence, Benny Andrews, Thornton Dial, Sam Gilliam, Richard Hunt and Lois Mailou Jones.

The 20th century was a time of great change in America. Many of the social, political and cultural movements that came to define the era, such as the jazz age, the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movement, were rooted in African American communities. Black artists explored their identity in this quickly changing world through a variety of media and in styles as varied as postmodernism, documentary realism, expressionism and abstraction.

“Visitors will be struck not only by the power of these artworks, but also by the variety of the pieces on display,” said Mecklenburg. “So many new movements and styles grew out of the tumult of the 20th century, and these works reflect that diversity.”

“Each of the artists included in this exhibition made a compelling contribution to the artistic landscape of 20th century America, and we are delighted to feature their work in the museum’s galleries,” said Mecklenburg.