JOHNNETTA B. COLE
Spelman College President
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.