Exuberance: Dialogues in African American Abstract Painting

Oct. 26-Dec. 10

Norman Lewis, Roseate Mist, 1952, oil on canvas, Overall: 36 × 42 1/2 in. (91.44 × 107.95 cm). Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Collection of Margaret and John Gottwald, L.77.2011.13

Exuberance: Dialogues in African American Abstract Painting celebrates African American painters and challenges received narratives about abstract art and who makes it. Abstract paintings by African American artists have often been overlooked and omitted from the history of art presented by white scholars and white dominated art institutions, yet their works have contributed powerfully to the field of painting. This focused presentation of paintings will feature a range of works from the 1950s to present day, forging cross-generational dialogues about racial identity, dynamics of color and pattern, as well as rhythm, movement, and breath

Featured artists include Mark Bradford, Nanette Carter, Lisa Corinne Davis, Felrath Hines, Lamerol Gatewood, Rico Gatson, Norman Lewis, Erika Ranee, Ronald Walton, Benjamin Wigfall, and Susan Zurbrigg. The exhibition is timed to connect with current curriculum and scholarship at JMU as well as incorporate leading national voices in Africana studies and the visual arts.

Lisa Corinne Davis, Cerebral Calibration, 2017. Oil on canvas, 60 x 45 in. Courtesy of the artist and Jenkins Johnson Gallery.

Lenders to the exhibition include the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, the Ackland Museum of Art as well as private collectors. Public programming will include a discussion on the history and politics of African American painting led by Dr. Jordana Sagesse, Associate Professor at the University of Maryland and award-winning author of Reading Basquiat: Exploring Ambivalence in American Art. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue, with scholarly essays and selected bibliography.

Exuberance is co-curated by Susan Zurbrigg and Beth Hinderliter. Susan Zurbrigg is a nationally exhibited artist, educator and activist. She is Assistant Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as well as a Professor of Art. Dr. Beth Hinderliter is Director of the Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art and an Associate Professor of Art History.  Her book, More Than Our Pain: Affect and Emotion in the Era of Black Lives Matter, was published by SUNY Press in 2021.

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