Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists

Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists

Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists

Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists

Synopsis

To commemorate the opening of their new museum, Spelman College presents an unprecedented exhibition of the work of contemporary African American women artists. Twenty-five of the most outstanding African American women artists have contributed their work to the exhibition "Bearing Witness," celebrating the opening of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art and the 115th anniversary of the college. Works in all mediums are included here-- paintings, sculptures, fiber art, mixed mediums, and prints-- created by some of today's most exceptional artists, among them Lorna Simpson, Faith Ringgold, Carrie Mae Weems, and Betye Saar. Because of its history as the first institution of higher learning for black women, Spelman has become a Mecca, a true wellspring of strength and sustenance for African American women. It is only fitting that these artists gather to honor Spelman College, which has long nurtured the creative and educational vision of black women. The arts have always held a central place at Spelman. The college has an impressive fine arts tradition that began with the assemblage of one of the first college-held collections of works by black artists. The tradition continues with the opening of the college's new Museum of Fine Art, the centerpiece of the new Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Academic Center. The museum's 4,500 square feet of exhibition space is designed to house the college's internationally recognized collection of paintings, prints, and photographs, as well as an impressive grouping of African sculptures and textiles. The museum also includes a conservatory, one of the few in the country devoted to preserving African American artworks. With the founding of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, the college has made certain that the arts will continue to play an integral part in the education of African American women well into the next century.

Excerpt

Once the idea was born, it was as if history and destiny had finally collaborated to will Bearing Witness into being. This exhibition of the works of twenty-five contemporary African American women artists is a powerful statement. Like all art of consequence, it is also filled with questions. Among the queries is this: why has it taken so long for these exquisite works by black women to be assembled in a major exhibition?

Bearing Witness first appeared at Spelman, a college where African American women fall deeply in love with their own possibilities. The exhibition was mounted in the museum of the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Academic Center, a building that magnificently expresses African American philanthropy, design, and construction.

And the world came to see Bearing Witness. This tour de force of womanist artistry touched people from many nations who gathered in Atlanta for the centennial celebration of human spirit and determination that is the Olympics.

From the opening on the Spelman campus, this collection of sixty works of art -- from painting to fabric art to massive sculpture pieces -- will travel to some of America's most prestigious museums. Wherever these works of our sister artists are shown, they will say so much that is both urgent and everlasting, elegant and disturbing, sad and hopeful. There is so much in Bearing Witness that we must see, and that we must hear.

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