The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia is showing nearly 60 works by African-American artists in the exhibition Expanding Tradition: Selections from the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Collection, on view through May 7.
The Thompsons donated 100 works by African-American artists to the museum in 2012, on the heels of Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art, a traveling exhibition drawn from their collection.
Expanding Tradition is a second exhibition highlighting the couple’s commitment to collecting art over the last several decades through a new selection of works borrowed from their extensive private collection.
Expanding Tradition also serves as the inaugural exhibition for Shawnya Harris, the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of African American and African Diasporic Art. Like the earlier exhibition, it offers a chance to expand scholarship on artists of color who, until recent years, have been overlooked. In addition, the Thompsons’ gift of the endowed curatorial position that Harris occupies furthers a larger mission of fostering inclusivity in American art history and the museum profession.
Harris said that both the exhibition and its accompanying catalog, which will be published by the museum, “continue the unfolding narrative of this important collection of American art.” By presenting artists and themes central to the collection’s development it will examine the promise of inclusion being offered to visitors to the museum and broader audiences.
Paintings and other works in the exhibition range from the late 19th century to the contemporary era, making for a comprehensive look at African-American art history. Visitors will gain insight into the complex relationships among race, gender, class, politics and the economy through the works of art, the catalog and related programming.
Featured artists include contemporary artists Willie Cole, Whitfield Lovell, Kevin Cole and Kara Walker as well as historical artists such as Elizabeth Catlett, Charles Sebree, Beauford Delaney and Benny Andrews. The exhibition also includes rare Depression-era works by Norman Lewis, Charles White, Dox Thrash and Rose Piper.
Related events include a tour of the exhibition with Harris Feb. 15 at 2 p.m.; “Conversation on Collecting,” a discussion with the Thompsons and Curlee Raven Holton, director of the David C. Driskell Center, Feb. 23 at 5:30 p.m.; the museum’s annual Black History Month Dinner ($75, $55 members) Feb. 24 at 6 p.m.; a gallery conversation with Sage Kincaid, assistant curator of education, March 22 at 2 p.m.; an artists’ panel discussion March 23; and Family Day April 15 from 10 a.m. to noon. All events are open free to the public unless otherwise indicated.