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August 2011

Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC, Offers Exhibition of African American Artworks

The Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is pleased to present the exhibition, Race and Representation: The African American Presence in American Art, on view in the Gregory D. Ivy Gallery, from Aug. 20 through Nov. 20, 2011.

Featuring approximately 25 works by 15 multi-generational artists, the exhibition is presented as part of the Weatherspoon Art Museum’s 70th Anniversary year showcasing its permanent collection. American visual culture is permeated with the history and memory of slavery and racism. This exhibition suggests that however much we may seek to affirm a cultural diversity that transcends historically instigated racial boundaries, the African American presence remains American democracy’s greatest sticking point and testing ground.

The exhibition is organized around the recent acquisition of two works by pre-eminent, contemporary artists Kara Walker and Leonardo Drew. In the contrasting languages of narrative figuration and allegorical abstraction, both artists speak to an understanding of the world forged by an African American identity and heritage. Complementing Walker’s An Unpeopled Land in Unchartered Waters (2010) and Drew’s Number 119D is a range of works from the museum’s permanent collection that demonstrates the centrality of the African American experience to American visual culture.

Primarily but not exclusively created by black artists, these paintings, prints, and sculptures highlight the extraordinary creative visual expression that is but one aspect of that experience. They also dramatize the impossibility of circumscribing African American experience within particular conceptual or stylistic boundaries. The extended range of subject matter (from runaway slaves to the reclining female nude) and competing strategies of representation (from Renaissance perspective to minimalist abstraction and from performance and conceptual art to postmodern appropriation) suggest the ongoing necessity of regarding the African American experience as a touchstone for and microcosm of American culture more generally.

The exhibition was organized by Elaine D. Gustafson, Curator of Collections, and George Dimock, Associate Professor of Art History, UNCG. Support for this exhibition was provided through the generosity of Bob and Lissa Shelley McDowell and Fairway Outdoor Advertising.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 336/334-5770 or visit (


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