join get involved donate

In this section
Ring Shout by Richard Yarde
Ring Shout II by Richard Yarde.
Click here to find out how
to get your own copy of
Ring Shout II by Richard Yarde.

To make your donation to The Amistad Center and to receive your Richard Yarde print, click here.

Intro

The Amistad Center for Art & Culture presents two to three exhibitions a year at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Exhibitions produced by The Center are exciting investigations of various issues relating to the African American experience. The educational programs that accompany these exhibitions not only present fresh perspectives about African American culture, but also encourage visitors to reflect upon their own perceptions. Admission to The Amistad Center for Art & Culture is free for members. Visit our Membership page.

Current Exhibitions

 

Question Bridge

 

March 23, 2013



 

Question Bridge: Black Males is a trans-media art project that seeks to represent and redefine Black male identity in America. Through video mediated question and answer exchange,
diverse members of this "demographic" bridge economic, political, geographic, and generational divisions.

Created by Chris Johnson, Hank Willis Thomas, Bayete Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair.

 


QUESTION BRIDGE PRESS RELEASE


Opening Reception

March 23, 2013 | 2-4 pm
Wilson-Gray YMCA Youth & Family Center
444 Albany Ave. | Hartford, CT
Admission is Free!

Exhibition on view through June 15 during the Wilson-Gray YMCA Center's normal hours of operation.

Some adult language. Most suitable for teenagers and adults.

Secure complimentary parking available.


RSVP for the reception by phone: 860.838.4133
or by email: amistadcenter@wadsworthatheneum.org.




With support from the Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.





Upcoming Exhibitions

Frank E. Jackson, Emancipation Proclamation, 1866,
Frank E. Jackson, Emancipation Proclamation, 1866, Black ink on paper, Simpson Collection, 1987.1.5,
Photograph by John Groo


Emancipation!

May 18, 2013 through January 20, 2014


Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, The Amistad Center for Art & Culture will present visual images and artifacts of events surrounding the time of the proclamation. Emancipation! will show the complexity of implementing the order, which declared all slaves held in rebellious states to be free from this date forward. Represented in images from newspapers, photographs, and documents are the ways society learned about and participated in the declaration by President Abraham Lincoln, January 1, 1863, the second year of the Civil War. On view among many others will be multiple works titled "Proclamation of Emancipation."

Curated by Alona C. Wilson, Assistant Director & Curator



Past Exhibitions

Contemporary Memories: Selections from the Collection of The Amistad Center for Art & Culture

Charly Palmer, American (born 1955,) A Man from I Am A Man series,
Charly Palmer, American (born 1955,) A Man from I Am A Man series, 2006, Acrylic on wood with mixed media, Purchase of the 1987 Society of The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, 2007.3


October 28, 2012 - April 21, 2013

Click here for Gallery Guide

Contemporary Memories is the concluding exhibition commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Amistad Center for Art & Culture. The exhibit features a selection of art works, historical photographs, and documents from the early twentieth century through the early twenty-first century from the permanent collection. The themes represent art movements and they highlight social and political events as portrayed in the visual arts, books, and documents.

On view will be photographs by James Van Der Zee and Carl Van Vetchen, and documentary photographs of the 1960s Modern Civil Rights Movement, including photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Paintings, prints, and drawings will include works by Hale Woodruff, Romare Bearden, and Benny Andrews, among others, about the contributions of African American artists to American art. Contemporary works will feature artists Sheila Pree Bright, Willie Cole, Charly Palmer, Hank Willis Thomas, and others.

Curated by Alona C. Wilson, Assistant Director & Curator

Supported by


Educational Materials and Programs Supported by:



With Additional Support from:



Collective Memories: Selections from The Amistad Center for Art & Culture

April 22, 2012 - September 23, 2012


There are docent-led tours of Collective Memories on Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 pm now through September 23. The tours are free with museum admission (no reservation required; tours meet at the Information Desk in the lobby by the Museum Shop).

This exhibition explores how societal concepts of race and culture may be produced, distributed and retained. It is organized thematically around people, places and things to structure ideas about what is African American. The selected works convey unique yet limited personal stories of the complexities of African American lives in enslavement and in limited freedom. With material from the seventeenth century to the early twentieth century primarily from the United States, and to a lesser degree Great Britain and several other countries, the exhibition demonstrates the breadth of The Amistad Center's permanent collection.

On view are selections from the middle nineteenth century and early twentieth century collection of photographs by noted African American photographers J. Presley Ball (1825-1904), Addison N. Scurlock (1883-1964) and Hartford daguerreotypist Augustus Washington (1820/21-1875). Also included from the photography collection are studio photographs by Mathew B. Brady (1823/24-1896) of the 44th United States Congress that included notable African American members. Several of the Center's extensive Victorian era collection of booklets and documents about the anti-slavery movement are on view with a limited number of decorative objects and anti-slavery prints of the same period. There are works by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which includes Uncle Tom's Cabin and related souvenir plates. In addition, there are toys, domestic objects, and prints of negative stereotypes of African Americans from the late 1870s through the early 1940s. In sharp contrast to these negative stereotypes are photographs of successful African American orators, educators, and activists such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Booker T. Washington. Three poetry books are on view by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) and show the beautifully illustrated book covers and pages including photographic work of the Hampton Institute Camera Club. Also in this exhibition are additional works from the permanent collection of paintings, Currier and Ives prints, Harper's Weekly engravings, tourist souvenirs from several Southern states and folk art.

Curated by Alona C. Wilson, Assistant Director & Curator.

 

 

Sing the Truth: Voices from The Amistad Center for Art & Culture

Exhibition on view at the New Haven Free Public Library through July 31, 2012 


From Ella Shepherd's efforts to prepare the Fisk College Jubilee Singers for their 1871 tour through Marian Anderson's 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial to Bernice Johnson Reagon's contributions to the SNCC Freedom Singers, Black women musicians created a soundtrack for the Modern Civil Rights movement. Mixing spirituals, work songs, jazz, gospel, R & B, and folk or "struggle music" these pioneering women defined a career path that fed them artistically, financially, and politically as it enriched this nation.

With photographs, artifacts, and documents drawn from The Amistad Center's collection, Sing the Truth: Voices from The Amistad Center for Art & Culture celebrates the emergence of an African American female performance tradition and its impact on the fight for freedom. The mixed-media installation begins with broadside advertisements for Reconstruction-era jubilee performances and follows the careers of the Hyers Sisters, the "Black Patti," and other late 19th-century entertainers. Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, and Ethel Waters shaped the progressive cabaret culture symbolized by New York's Café Society and documented in portraits by Carl van Vechten, Sarony, and Philippe Halsman. The music and presence of Eva Jessye, Mahalia Jackson, and Lena Horne, among others helped make the1963 March on Washington memorable.

For more information, please visit the
International Festival of Arts and Ideas website.


Special Thank You to: 
New Haven Free Public Library 

International Festival of Arts and Ideas
Jargonboy.com



Curated by Wm. Frank Mitchell, Ph.D.


The Bassist by David Driskell
Ellington, Waters, Koehler Arlen Mills Music, Stormy Weather, 1933, sheet music, The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, Inc; Simpson Collection, AF 1987.1.3339

War Prizes: The Cultural Legacy of Slavery & the Civil War

Opens September 10, 2011 - March 11, 2012


Click here for the official flyer.


The Amistad Center's exhibition, War Prizes, recognizes the Civil War
Sesquicentennial, as well as the War's complex legacy for African Americans.
It was one of the greatest periods of cultural transformation in African American history. As the nation fought for reunification, African American leaders managed to safeguard and deliver their cultural heritage from the tumult of war through Reconstruction and into the 20th century's freedoms. The anniversary is an opportunity to reconsider the ways iconic aspects of African American culture have journeyed through American history. This exhibition will run from September 2011 through February 2012 at the Wadsworth Atheneum.

In books, songs, stories, performance, and early images, a fictive demeaning impression of Blacks emerged from the antebellum period. They were a poor reflection of the cultures African captives left behind and equally flawed representation of the new culture created in America. The Civil War propaganda intensified and disseminated the most popular and often inaccurate cultural impressions whose eradication would become the life work of the first generation of Blacks born into freedom, and their children.

For many 20th century African American arts and cultural figures, the legacy of slavery and the Civil War defined career, influenced private life, and left lasting emotional issues to resolve as they endeavored to reclaim their culture and imagery. Arguably the emotionally charged imagery is the war's most powerful and pervasive legacy. It permeated 20th century American popular culture and the lives of those who created and enjoyed it and those who were victims of it. In direct presentations like the movie Gone With the Wind and in more subtle ways, the Civil War helped shape 20th century American popular culture. This is the narrative of War Prizes.

The exhibition, War Prizes, follows the Civil War's impact on performers, the arts, and humanities through the 20th century. Objects from The Amistad Center for Art & Culture's collection of 19th century prints, photographs, and ephemera will introduce slavery and the Civil War. The Amistad Center's documentation of the Lincoln presidency, Frederick Douglass-related objects, the Center's tintype and ambrotype series, and Harpers' Weekly newspapers will introduce the War and the reasons behind it.

The exhibition follows the trajectory of activists, religious leaders, entertainers, and others who committed themselves to tackling and transforming segregation, inaccurate depictions in popular culture, economic inequities and other difficult legacies of the Civil War. Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Ethel Waters and others whose careers began early in the 20th century will be the basis of a conversation about the direct impact of slavery and the Civil War on African American performance culture. Objects from The Center's literary collections along with postcards, early recordings, and sheet music will be included. Audio of this early music will be present in the galleries. The exhibition is also an opportunity to showcase pieces from The Amistad Center's advertising collections along with selections from the early 20th century, stereotypic objects to illustrate the post-Civil War imagery

A final section will present mid-late 20th century photographs and fine art emphasizing the relationship between art, celebrity, and the modern civil rights movement. Lena Horne, James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin - each represented in the collection - are among the best examples; the struggles they faced were testament to the impact of slavery and the Civil War upon 20th century popular culture. Their achievements prove an evolving skill in negotiating a past that is always present for Black America. Selections of work form the Wadsworth's extraordinary collection of contemporary art by artists such as Glenn Ligon and Jacob Lawrence and the loan of a single stunning portrait of Ms. Horne from the Smithsonian will punctuate the exhibition and illuminate the narrative.

War Prizes is sponsored by the Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation.



Also made possible by the J. Walton Bissell Foundation with additional support
from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism


Educational materials and programs are sponsored by



 


The Bassist by David Driskell
The Bassist by David Driskell

Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David Driskell Part 2, 2000 - 2007

March 19, 2011 - August 7, 2011

 

A selection of over 75 fine art prints created by David C. Driskell, Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of Maryland, artist, educator, and curator of African American art and culture. The exhibition will be presented in two-parts based on the chronology of his artistic process and development. Exclusive to the Amistad venue are African art works from his private collection. The exhibition is organized by the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the Africa Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park and is curated by Dr. Adrienne L. Childs, Curator-in-Residence (2007-2009).

It is made possible through the support of a special fund from the Office of the President, University of Maryland, and major support from Maryland State Arts Council. 

This exhibition is organized by the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.

This presentation of Evolution at The Amistad Center for Art & Culture is generously sponsored by Travelers, with additional support from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism. Educational materials and programs are supported by the GE Foundation.





Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David Driskell Part I, 1952 - 1999

October 30, 2010 - March 6, 2011

 

A selection of over 75 fine art prints created by David C. Driskell, Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of Maryland, artist, educator, and curator of African American art and culture. The exhibition will be presented in two-parts based on the chronology of his artistic process and development. Exclusive to the Amistad venue are African art works from his private collection. The exhibition is organized by the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the Africa Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park and is curated by Dr. Adrienne L. Childs, Curator-in-Residence (2007-2009).

It is made possible through the support of a special fund from the Office of the President, University of Maryland, and major support from Maryland State Arts Council. 

This exhibition is organized by the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.

This presentation of Evolution at The Amistad Center for Art & Culture is generously sponsored by Travelers, with additional support from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism. Educational materials and programs are supported by the GE Foundation.




High Water Marks: Art and Renewal After Katrina


May 1, 2010 - September 19, 2010

From New Orleans' earliest days, the work of Black artisans made the city a colonial prize and distinguished it from other ports. It fascinated Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the architect of the U.S. Capitol, who kept a sketchbook and diary of his time in early 1800s New Orleans. He describes a Sunday morning walk through the market and the vibrant presence of Black women vendors shouting the praises of their food. Latrobe was one of many visitors who recognized the importance of New Orleans' Black artisans, and one of the few to document it. During slavery, Black artists and the arts played an essential role in the life of the city. Since then, the city's jazz legacy, culinary achievements, architecture, fine art, and distinct Creole culture, have made New Orleans a continually fascinating destination for visitors and a city that continues to insist upon the relevance of arts and culture.

Five years after the hurricane struck the Crescent City, the arts remain an essential aspect of New Orleans and central to its post-Katrina renewal effort. From May-September 2010 the exhibition, High Water Marks: Art & Renewal After Katrina, will present the achievements of a range of artists who have documented the city's devastation and are committed to the city's recovery. The exhibition presents a brief history of New Orleans focused on the importance of arts and culture with a foundation of Amistad Center collection material, especially trade cards and photographs. The introduction establishes the importance of Black artisans in colonial New Orleans and references the emergence of iconic cultural forms including jazz, vernacular architecture, politically significant moments in New Orleans history (Plessy v. Ferguson), and food. On view will be an excerpt from Benjamin Henry Latrobe's Impressions Respecting New Orleans, 1820, published 1951. Collection objects to be include the postcards Praline Seller, New Orleans, 1915; New Orleans Sugar Cane Scene, 1920; Aunt Shug who makes Pralines, 1900; and a Luzianne Coffee box from 1902. Lithographer Jules Lion's portraits of New Orleans' society figures affirm the presence of 18th and 19th-century black artisans.

Contemporary art created in response to Katrina's impact will be featured including post-Katrina images by photographers Deborah Willis and Lewis Watts; Charly Palmer's Yellow Ochre, 2007, mixed media and Donald Boudreaux's 2006 mixed media piece The Visitor; Brad McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry's 2008 installation The Evidence of Things Not Seen; John Scott's 2003 woodcut Dangerous; and Willie Birch's 2005 drawing House and Owner on Touro Street.


The arts continue to be an agent in renewing and rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina by generating media coverage, creating income, attracting tourists, comforting through beauty, and witnessing with outrage.


This exhibition is generously supported by the J. Walton Bissell Foundation, the Greater Hartford Arts Council and the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism.

Digging Deeper

September 19, 2009 - April 4, 2010

Digging Deeper is a rare and exciting collaborative project engages artists Willie Cole, and Hank Willis Thomas, in the exploration of The Amistad Center's important culturally specific collection and the Wadsworth Atheneum's renowned and diverse collections to produce an exhibition, including new works that will enlighten and entertain our public community. The exhibition will juxtapose collection materials and Cole's and Willis Thomas' original works to challenge viewers to think about contemporary art in an historical context, traditional art in a contemporary context, and the capacity of multiple generations and forms of art to document, comment on, and sometimes change history. This exhibition will celebrate and demonstrate the perspectives and skills of two extraordinarily talented contemporary artists, through whose eyes we will see anew two historic collections.

Cole is an internationally renowned sculptor and printmaker.  Since the late 1980s, he has been recognized for his extraordinary ability to transform found objects. Cole's first works employed irons and ironing boards to create images of slave ships, African masks and brand-bearing West African warrior shields. From his iron works, to his lemon-juice and iron scorched works on paper to his most recent sculptural reflections using old shoes, Cole captivates art audiences with his imaginative reinterpretation of everyday objects, revealing their social, historical, metaphorical and aesthetic value. Cole enjoyed a one-man show at MOMA, NY, and his work is currently on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.

Willis Thomas' works often comment on branding and the commodification of African American culture. Best known for his photographs, Willis Thomas works in a wide range of media including film and site specific installations. He often combines historical illustrations, portraiture, and product design with references to consumer culture. The resulting works at times evoke a wry humor or a withering critique. In 2002 Willis Thomas gained wide recognition for a series called B®anded, a group of images created by digitally adding a scarred "Nike" logo to the chest and head of an African American male model. In this series, Willis Thomas highlights the complicated role of African American males in the production and consumption of their own images in the marketplace. More generally this provocative series of photographs focuses on consumer branding within America's commodity-obsessed culture, and the extent to which advertisers target racial groups and exploit the Black male body for marketing and product promotion. Similar to the works of Andy Warhol and other appropriation artists of the 1980s, Willis Thomas alludes to the psychological repercussions of these representations and how these characterizations shape and define the public's perceptions about race and class.


This exhibition is sponsored by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Edward C. and Ann T Roberts Foundation. With additional support from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism.