Beloved Community: African American Artists in Atlanta Collections and Beyond

Beloved Community: African American Artists in Atlanta Collections and Beyond 2022-06-06T09:01:41-04:00

Feb. 11 – June 5, 2022

A painted plaster bust of a young boy, made by August Savage

Augusta Savage (American, 1892-1962) Gamin, painted plaster, ca. 1930, Courtesy of the Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, SC

“Beloved Community” promotes the rich diversity of Oglethorpe University students, 59% of whom identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color, with 29% who identify as Black or African American.

With the goal of increased diversity among the permanent art collection, Taylor Roberts ’21, former Student Government Association president, led a student initiative in 2019 in partnership with SGA and Black Student Caucus that resulted in the acquisition of a major work of art by prominent contemporary African American artist Shanequa Gay.

Since this initiative, OUMA has continued to acquire works of art by prominent artists of color. Working in partnership with our neighboring peer institutions and private collectors throughout Atlanta, this exhibition includes works by great African American artists of the 20th century to include Romare Bearden, Augusta Savage, Richmond Barthé, George Fletcher and William Tolliver as well as contemporary artists such as Shanequa Gay and Lucy Pettway-Witherspoon whose work is now included in the permanent collection of OUMA. Many subjects examined in this exhibition relate directly and indirectly to past and present challenges for social justice in America.

"Eve" by William Tolliver

William Tolliver (American 1951-2000) Eve, 20th century Acrylic and oil on canvas, Gift of Warren and Karen Steinberg, Collection of Oglethorpe University Museum of Art

This exhibition also illustrates Oglethorpe University’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Many of the artists included in this exhibition were deliberately excluded from seminal exhibitions curated by major American museums during the 1960s and 1970s. Those actions led to the formation of numerous organizations and museums which championed the work of artists of color in the United States. The exhibition places work by these artists in historical context and addresses the active and passive discrimination endured by such artists and their subsequent conquest of such discrimination.

This exhibit was co-curated by Curator of Collections John Daniel Tilford and Taylor Roberts ’21 and is part of the Shelley and Donald Rubin Exhibition Series.