The show begins with key examples of the Harlem Renaissance, a chapter in American experience when southern blacks migrated to this urban center and flourished artistically. Sequential chapters follow the civil rights era as well as self-taught expression in the rural south and contemporary commentary. Along the way, the beauty as well as hardship of African American experience are creatively and authentically explored.
Artists Benny Andrews and William H. Johnson speak to the dignity and resilience of people who work the land. Jacob Lawrence and Thornton Dial Sr. acknowledge the struggle for economic justice and civil rights. Sargent Johnson and Mailou Jones address the heritage of Africa in the United States, and Romare Bearden celebrates jazz and the birth of the blues on American soil. Sam Gilliam and Alma Thomas innovate with color and form to create compelling abstractions.
Wichita Art Museum galleries will bristle with powerful works by many luminaries including those named above as well as as Beauford Delaney, Frederick Brown, Palmer Hayden, Norman Lewis, Hale Woodruff, Whitfield Lowell, Renée Stout, Bob Thompson, and others. The exhibition will pair with strong adult, school, and family programming with many collaborators to deepen community access and impact.