Published: November 18, 2003
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is showcasing the work of African American artists through a unique exhibition, “African American Artists Celebrate Community,” on display November 22 through April 4. The exhibition is accompanied by interactive programming.
Drawn from the academy’s permanent collection, the exhibition celebrates African -American art and artists. From Willie Birch’s intimate “A Farewell Feast,” 1988, to the energetic “Chess Players,” 1970, by Jacob Lawrence, to the spiritual expression of “Sunday Afternoon,” 1988-89, by Margo Humphrey, “African American Artists Celebrate Community” reveals aspects of African American culture from the perspectives of influential artists. Humbert L. Howard’s “The Fishermen,” 1973, portrays a whimsical shore scene, while Faith Ringgold’s “Tar Beach #2,” 1990, adapts summer activities to an urban setting.
Also included will be Beverley Buchanan’s “Ms Mary Lou Furcron,” 1989, Dox Thrash’s “Second Thought, aka My Neighbor,” 1939, Bob Thompson’s “Procession at Aqueduct,” 1961, and Romare Bearden’s “Conjunction,” 1970.
The Pennsylvania Academy offers a series of family programs and drawing workshops that enable a hands-on experience of art. Each program helps participants relate to the featured African American artists, encouraging them to understand the creative process and incorporate their own experiences into their work. Using the academy’s emphasis on fundamental skills, the lessons provide a unique opportunity for participants to interpret works of art in the exhibition.
During a family program planned for Saturday, February 21, at 11 am, guests can learn about works by Jacob Lawrence, who interpreted his dreams and memories. After observing his paintings, visitors work with instructor Carly Ofsthun to consider their own dreams, then learn techniques to create paintings bringing them to life.
Families can also create their own “storyquilt” patches Saturday, March 20, at 11 am, during a program surrounding Faith Ringgold’s “Tar Beach.” Ringgold created “storyquilts” expressing the rich tradition of storytelling in vibrant paintings on quilted canvas. Participants can hear the story of Ringgold’s “Tar Beach,” depicting memories of hot summer nights on a tar-paper roof, then instructor Ofsthun will show guests how to make their own storyquilt patches of beloved scenes in the community.
An Art-at-Lunch presentation titled “Creative Fusion: Jazz and the Canvas” Wednesday, February 11, at noon, also is a highlight of the program schedule. The lunchtime lecture, free with gallery admission, will approach the work of Romare Bearden from a musical perspective, through the eyes and ears of his mentoree Verna Hart.
Student groups can learn about the growth of African American art through drawing lessons and daily guided tours of the exhibition, including an Experience the Academy day February 11 with a tour, Art-at-Lunch presentation, and drawing lesson related to the exhibition works. Tours explore the diversity of style and media employed by artists and learning about various genres. Following the tours, drawing lessons are conducted by academy students. Lessons are customized for the grade level and ability of the group.
Finally, the academy’s “African American Artists Celebrate Community” teacher workshop enables educators to incorporate art in various subject areas. The workshop, to be conducted Wednesday, March 3, helps educators take cultural understanding beyond the exhibition. The program grants Act 48 credits, helping teachers achieve the state requirements of six college credits in art courses every five years. A packet including academy reproductions and curricular suggestions will be provided.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is at 1301 Cherry Street. The new building is currently under construction at Broad and Cherry Streets, across the street from the historic landmark building designed by Frank Furness and George Hewitt.
For information, 215-972-7600 or www.pafa.org.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm