Hale Woodruff Exhibition Extended

Amistad’s current exhibition on the life and work of African American muralist and painter Hale Woodruff has been extended through September 12th to coincide of the closing of the exhibition Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College, which is being held at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Don’t miss this extra chance to view both exhibitions that highlight Woodruff’s Amistad Murals and other works.

Amistad’s next exhibition focusing on the civil rights work of Fannie Lou Hamer and Clarie Collins Harvey will open September 16th.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Image from the Hale Woodruff papers. May not be reproduced without permission.)

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Exhibition Explores Life and Art of Hale Woodruff

Hale A. Woodfuff, circa 1927

Hale A. Woodfuff, circa 1927

In 1938, Hale Woodruff began research on what would become one of his most well-known works of art — a three-panel mural on the Amistad Mutiny that was commissioned by Talladega College in Alabama. For years, the mural resided in Talladega’s Savery Library, but is now on a national tour after being professionally conserved. The next stop on the tour is the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), which will display “Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College” from May 16 to September 14, 2014.

 The Amistad Research Center’s archival collections contain not only primary source records related to the Amistad Case, but the personal papers of Hale Woodruff, as well. The Center is proud to announce it’s exhibition “Rising Up II: The Life and Work of Hale Woodruff” which is currently on display now through August 29th. Through letters, photographs, Woodruff’s writings, and material related to his teaching career, the life and influence of one of America’s outstanding artists of the twentieth century is examined.

Amistad invites visitors to view the Woodruff materials on display at Amistad, as well as the Talladega Murals at NOMA. Information and a checklist for Amistad’s exhibition is available on its website. More information on the mural exhibition can be found at NOMA’s website, as well as the website for the High Museum of Art, which is sponsoring the traveling exhibition.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Image from the Hale A. Woodruff papers. May not be reproduced without permission)

New Exhibition and Book Talk Celebrate Countee Cullen

Currently on view at the Amistad Research Center is “Yet Do I Marvel: Countee Cullen and the Harlem Renaissance,” a exhibition on the early twentieth century poet, his contemporaries, and the social and literary influences of the 1920s and 1930s that formed what began as “The New Negro Movement.” The exhibition, which largely draws upon Cullen’s personal papers and library housed at Amistad, is on display through December 20, 2012. Below are images of the exhibition.

And don’t forget…please join us for an enjoyable evening on October 29 at 6:00pm when biographer Charles Molesworth shares his experiences researching and writing about Countee Cullen and his times. A reception will begin the evening, followed by a book talk by Dr. Molesworth. Copies of And Bid Him Sing: A Biography of Countee Cullen will be available for purchase and signing. More information is at Amistad’s Facebook page.

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The Countee Cullen exhibition also includes selections of works from Harlem Renaissance-era artists, such as Aaron Douglass, Malvin Gray Johnson, Gwendolyn Bennett, and others from Amistad's Fine Arts Collection.

The Countee Cullen exhibition also includes selections of works from Harlem Renaissance-era artists, such as Aaron Douglass, Malvin Gray Johnson, Gwendolyn Bennett, and others from Amistad’s Fine Arts Collection.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Photos courtesy of the Amistad Research Center. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Sneak Peak at the Elizabeth Catlett Exhibition

Can’t wait until Friday evening to visit us for the one-night only exhibition of Elizabeth Catlett’s papers and works of art? The installation of the exhibition is complete, so feel free to visit us to get a sneak peak at the exhibition! The Catlett exhibition will be on display today and tomorrow from 8:30-4:30 and all day Friday until 8:30 pm when the exhibition comes down to make room for an exhibition on Countee Cullen and the Harlem Renaissance. For those who can’t make it, below are some pictures to let you know what you are missing!

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Photos courtesy of the Amistad Research Center. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Reception and Exhibition of the Papers and Works of Elizabeth Catlett

I am pleased that my personal papers and some of my art works are permanently preserved in one of the great repositories in the United States.
—Elizabeth Catlett on the collection of her works and papers at the Amistad Research Center

Elizabeth Catlett at work in her studio, circa 1983.

Elizabeth Catlett at work in her studio, circa 1983.

As part of a New Orleans Tribute to sculptor and printmaker Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012), the Amistad Research Center is pleased to present a reception and one-night exhibition of Catlett’s personal papers and works of art housed at the Center. The reception will begin at 6:30 pm on Friday, October 5, 2012.

In addition to twelve works on paper and one sculpture by Elizabeth Catlett, Amistad also houses an extensive collection of her personal papers, including correspondence with fellow artists, photographs, exhibition and gallery catalogs, family papers, and more — all of which document Catlett’s career and influence in twentieth century American art.

The reception and exhibition will open a weekend commemorating the life and work of Elizabeth Catlett, including a memorial at Dillard University’s Cook Hall on Saturday, October 6 (12:00pm) and a Homecoming Celebration at Catlett’s Louis Armstrong statue in Congo Square on Sunday, October 7 (10:00am). More details on the weekend’s activities are available online.

The Amistad reception and exhibition will take place at the Center (Tilton Memorial Hall, Tulane University, 6823 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans). For more information, please call 504-862-3222 or email us at infoATamistadresearchcenter.org.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Image from the Elizabeth Catlett Papers, Amistad Research Center. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)

Amistad’s Art Travels…

Recent efforts on the part of the Amistad Research Center to provide greater access to its fine arts collection is paying rewards as several pieces from our art collection will be traveling over the next few years as part of exhibitions across the country. Each exhibition highlights the historical significance of Africans in the Americas or an established African American artist. Our contributions include works by many well known and lesser known artists, including Hale Woodruff, Jacob Lawrence, William H. Johnson, Jeff Donaldson, and James Phillips. Those interested in viewing some of Amistad’s works can do so at the venues and dates below. Please come check them out and support these wonderful exhibitions.

Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College
Includes “Southland” by Hale Woodruff
This touring exhibition will visit venues in Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; New York, New York; Washington, D.C.; New Orleans, Louisiana; Hartford, Connecticut; and Birmingham, Alabama, from June 2012-September 2015.

Caribbean: Crossroads of the World
Includes six serigraph prints from Jacob Lawrence’s “Toussaint L’Ouverture” series
El Museo del Barrio (New York, NY) June 12, 2012 – January 6, 2013
Studio Museum in Harlem (New York, NY) June 14, 2012 – October 21, 2012

Buried Treasures: Art in African American Museums
Includes works by William H. Johnson, Jeff Donaldson, and James Phillips
DuSable Museum (Chicago, IL) July 14, 2012 – December 31, 2012

Look for more information on this blog as other venues are announced.

Posted by Leiza McKenna

The Passing of Elizabeth Catlett

The staff and directors of the Amistad Research Center join the art world in mourning the loss of one of the world’s true art treasures, Elizabeth Catlett, who passed away on Monday, April 2. Ms. Catlett was for many years a strong supporter of the Center. On the collection of her works and papers at Amistad, she commented “I am pleased that my personal papers and some of my art works are permanently preserved in one of the great repositories in the United States.”

Born April 15, 1919 at Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington D.C., she was the third child of Mary Carson Catlett and John Catlett. In 1931, she enrolled at Howard University and began her studies as a design major, but later changed to painting. At Howard, she studied under Lois M. Jones, James Herring, James Wells, and James Porter.

Catlett later studied at Iowa University to pursue a master’s degree in art and majored in sculpture. In 1940, she would become the first African American to receive an MFA in sculpture from the university. While at Iowa, she studied under painter Grant Wood. It was Wood who encouraged her to work with wood and depict subjects with which she could directly indentify. She took his advice and worked on images of African American women, mothers, daughters, and children. Her thesis piece, Mother and Child, became a characteristic theme of her art.

Elizabeth Catlett at work in her studio, circa 1983.

Elizabeth Catlett at work in her studio, circa 1983.

After completing her studies at Iowa, Catlett studied ceramics at the Art Institute of Chicago before joining the Art Department at Dillard University in New Orleans. She taught drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and art history. One incident profoundly affected the focus of her art during her time at Dillard. Intending to take her art class to see a retrospective exhibition of Picasso’s paintings at the New Orleans Museum of Art, the class had to enter the museum directly from the bus due to the fact that the museum’s entrance was through City Park, which was closed to African Americans due to Jim Crow laws. Ms. Catlett discussed the visit in this 2009 interview.

The Julius Rosenwald Foundation awarded Catlett a grant in 1945 to create a series of prints and sculptures on the theme of African American women. The series would be entitled The Negro Woman and conveyed the determination of African American women in the face of overwhelming odds. In 1945, Catlett traveled to Mexico and returned in 1947, marrying painter and printmaker Francisco Mora. The couple had three sons, Francisco Jr., Juan, and David. Catlett joined the Taller de Grafica Popular (People’s Graphic Arts Workshop) of printmakers who were committed to maintaining the social and political ideals of the Mexican Revolution. She became a Mexican citizen in 1960.

The political activism of the 1960s and early 1970s was seen in a variety of Catlett’s works of that era, such as Black Unity, Homage to My Young Black Sisters, Target, and The Torture of Mothers. She was the recipient of numerous awards and commissions, and continued to work and reside in Mexico until her passing.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Image from the Elizabeth Catlett Papers, Amistad Research Center. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)

"Richmond Barthé: Builder of Pictures" now on display

Barthé with his Mask of a Boy, circa 1931.

Barthé with his Mask of a
Boy, circa 1931.

The Amistad Research Center is pleased to announce the opening of its latest exhibition, Richmond Barthé: Builder of Pictures, which is on display at the Center through July 8, 2011. This exhibition celebrates the life of Mississippi-born artist Richmond Barthé. The subject of a recent biography by art historian Margaret Rose Vendryes, Barthé is known for his eclectic and sensual visual language that allowed him to create an oeuvre that defied race and sexual orientation while, at the same time, elevating Black subjects above contemporary caricatures to render them timeless.

Taken mostly from the Richmond Barthé Papers at the Amistad Research Center, the materials on display include letters, photographs, sketches, writings, and sculptures related to his artistic journey from a student in Chicago to Harlem Renaissance star to expatriate in Jamaica.  The exhibition checklist is available on Amistad’s website. The display is open during the Center’s hours of M-F, 8:30-4:30.

Individuals interested in Barthé’s life and works should also make plans to visit the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, which is currently showing the exhibition Richmond Barthé: The Seeker, curated by Margaret Rose Vendryes.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Image from the Richmond Barthé Papers. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Varnette Patricia Honeywood, 1950-2010

Artist and businesswoman, Varnette Patricia Honeywood, died September 12 in Los Angeles of cancer. Born December 27, 1950, in Los Angeles, she was a graduate of Spelman College and the University of Southern California. She taught art and administered art programs before partnering with her older sister, Stephanie, to establish a series of publishing and distribution companies (Black Lifestyles Today, Black Lifestyles Fine Art, and Black Lifestyles Classics).  Celebrating themes of family, spirituality, and community, her colorful works, depicted cultural traditions and told the stories of the black experience in America.  Her paintings, prints and collages have been exhibited in major galleries and museums, and adorn the covers of several adult and children’s books.
Varnette Honeywood wears an apron, at home with her mother (Center seated) and family on August 30, 2003.

Varnette Honeywood wears an apron, at home with her mother (Center seated) and family on August 30, 2003.

In August of 2003, I visited Varnette and her mother in their Los Angeles home, where I spent an entire afternoon listening to Varnette detail her family’s rich history in Louisiana and Mississippi.  Her parents, Lovie and Stepney Robinson Honeywood, were school teachers who migrated to Los Angeles from Louisiana and Mississippi.  She shared her love for history and the journey of her family through photographs, letters, and documents.  As Varnette described the business operations of her Black Lifestyles Companies, I discovered how she and Stephanie succeeded in getting positive images of black art into small galleries and bookstores.  Attributing much of the business success to Stephanie’s organizational skills, she showed me how they packed and shipped orders for posters and note cards across the country.  I listened, as she recalled Bill Cosby’s request for samples of her work.  After loading her car with paintings and driving to meet with him, she said, “I was so surprised when he purchased everything”.  That was the beginning of their partnership, which introduced her work to TV audiences.  Several of Varnette’s paintings were included in the set decoration for The Cosby Show.  She also partnered with Bill Cosby to illustrate twelve books in his award winning Little Bill Books for Beginning Readers.

On that August afternoon, I experienced authentic southern hospitality alive and well in Los Angeles. Varnette and Lovie prepared the most wonderful meal, and a delicious pastry called monkey bread. At the end of a long day of going through papers and assisting with dinner, Varnette carefully signed posters and inscribed a set of the Little Bill books for the Amistad Research Center. Then, with great care, she selected poems and writings from her sister, Stephanie, a gifted poet and author who died of multiple sclerosis in 2002. We talked of possible educational programs and an exhibition of her work at the Amistad Research Center. The following year, I had the opportunity to treat Varnette to a meal in my home with art historian Dr. Regenia A. Perry, and was introduced to Varnette’s New Orleans’ cousins. The following selection from Stephanie Honeywood’s writings, now preserved in the Varnette Honeywood Papers, highlights the legacy of Varnette Patricia Honeywood.

February, 1988

Order
 
Legacy:  inheritance of wealth, stature, destiny.
 
We dedicate this effort to our parents, Lovie Varnette  Allen and Stepney Robinson of Mississippi and Louisiana.
 
Your love of our family, your integrity, dignity, pride-and
Courage continues to inspire us.
 
Thank you for cherishing the wealth and traditions passed
to you and diligently guiding us as we learned them.
 
Ancestor Worship
Africans worship their elders and their ancestors.  Every
Culture, for that matter, does.
 
The beginning of knowing who we are is to know where we
Came from.  This is the key to knowing where we are, why
we are here and realizing the reality of this moment.
 
So thru the eyes and words of elders and ancestors, we know our history.
 
We thank God for you, Varnette.  Thank you  for sharing, for caring, and for continuing the story-telling of our people.  We will all miss you. 
 

Posted by Brenda Billips Square

(Top image courtesy of Spelman College Archives. Bottom image courtesy of Brenda Billips Square.  Images may not be reproduced without permission.)

Beyond the Blues Closing Weekend Events

The Amistad Research Center and New Orleans Museum of Art will close the Beyond the Blues exhibition with a weekend full of events July 9 – 11. All events take place in the Great Hall or Stern Auditorium at NOMA.

Friday, July 9
NOMA open 10:00 am – 2:00 am Saturday

6:30 pm – Film screening of Endangered Species about the ongoing struggle to preserve the culture of New Orleans
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm – Live music by Tanya and Dorise (of Mother Tongue)
10:00 pm – 1:00 am – Live music by J. Monque’D Blues Band

Saturday, July 10
NOMA open 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

2:00 pm – Film screening of Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans

Sunday, July 11
NOMA open 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm – Family art making activities
2:00 pm – 4:30 pm – Voices of New Orleans performance featuring Chuck Perkins and Mardi Gras Indians

LOCATION:
New Orleans Museum of Art
One Collins C. Diboll Circle, City Park

ADMISSION:
LA residents (w/ photo ID): Adults, $8; Seniors (65+), $7; Children 3-17, $4; Children under 3, free
Out of state residents: Adults, $10; Seniors (65+), $9; Children 3-17, $5; Children under 3, free

Please join us as we celebrate the closing and successful run of theBeyond the Blues exhibition.

For more information, call (504) 862-3222.

Posted by Christopher Harter