Each year, the Georgia Museum of Art hosts its annual Black Art and Culture Awards, featuring the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Award and the Lillian C. Lynch Citation. Respectively, these two awards honor a living African American visual artist with a significant Georgia connection in an effort to raise their profile and an African American leader who has made a significant contribution to African American cultural education and service.
This year’s recipient of the Thompson Award is Stefanie Jackson, an American painter whose art deals with themes of African American history and draws on her own life experience as well as broader issues of social justice. The awards ceremony will take place in April and is open to sponsors only (sponsor at https://bit.ly/gmoa-bhc23), but throughout February, the museum will feature numerous other programs that celebrate Black history and are free and open to the public.
Visitors can pick up a gallery guide throughout February that highlights works by Black artists on view at the museum. The museum has three exhibitions on view during Black History Month that feature Black artists:
- “In Dialogue: Henry Ossawa Tanner, Mentor and Muse” focuses on the African American painter who left the United States in 1891 to escape prejudice. Tanner settled in France, where he quickly acquired international fame for his religious pictures, genre scenes and depictions of the French landscape. This single-wall exhibition also includes works by other Black artists Tanner influenced.
- “Object Lessons in American Art: Selections from the Princeton University Art Museum”: Inspired by the concept of the object lesson — the study of a material thing to communicate a larger idea — this exhibition organized by Princeton University Art Museum juxtaposes diverse objects to generate new understandings about Euro-American, Native American and African American art while exploring themes of race, gender and the environment.
- “Decade of Tradition: Highlights from the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Collection”: This long-term installation highlights gifts of works by African American artists that Larry and Brenda Thompson began donating to the museum in 2012. Jackson’s painting “The Bluest Eye” is on view as part of the exhibition.
Both “In Dialogue” and “Object Lessons in American Art” are made possible by the leadership support of the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Black History Month programs at the museum include:
- A curator talk by Shawnya Harris, Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of African American and African Diasporic Art, on “Decade of Tradition,” on Feb. 8 at 2 p.m.
- A Family Day focused on “Decade of Tradition” on Feb. 11 from 10 a.m. to noon. Have fun in the galleries, complete Art Cart activities and create your own work of art to take home in the Michael and Mary Erlanger Studio Classroom. For those who cannot attend in-person, Family Day To-Go Kits will be available for pickup starting at 1 p.m. Saturday through the end of day Sunday while supplies last.
- An Artful Conversation program focused on Black artist Vertis Hayes’ painting “Juke Joint” on Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. with Callan Steinmann, curator of education. Artful Conversation programs are 30 minutes long, focus on one or a few works of art and provide opportunities for close looking, open-ended dialogue and discovery.
- A Teen Studio on Feb. 16 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. will be held for ages 13–18. The studio was inspired by “Object Lessons in American Art,” and will be led by local artist and educator Kristen Bach. Visit the exhibition, then create your own objects inspired by stories from the exhibition. This program is free and includes a pizza dinner from DePalma’s Italian Cafe. Seats are limited; email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
- A Student Night geared to UGA students and highlighting “Object Lessons in American Art” on Feb. 16 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
- “Black Art: In the Absence of Light,” a documentary that spotlights the indelible contributions of some of the foremost African American artists in today’s contemporary art world, including Theaster Gates, Kerry James Marshall, Faith Ringgold, Amy Sherald and many more, on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m.
- A curator talk on “Object Lessons in American Art,” by Jeffrey Richmond-Moll, curator of American art, on Feb. 22 at 2 p.m.
- A talk by Vaughn Watson, associate professor in the department of teacher education at Michigan State University, titled “On Elder Avenue: Envisioning Rightful Literary Presence as Traveling With,” on Feb. 23 at 5:30 p.m. This is the fifth annual Aralee Strange Lecture for Art and Poetry. Dr. Vaughn draws across geographies of research, teaching and teacher education in the global African Diaspora to conceptualize Rightful Literary Presence as necessary stance-taking toward justice. The museum’s Aralee Strange Lecture series highlights scholarship focused on the intersections of visual art, poetry, literacy, equity and justice in education.
All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise specified. Family Day is sponsored by Lucy and Buddy Allen and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art. Student Night is sponsored by the UGA Parents Leadership Council.