Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Arts

African-American art scholar to talk on new MFA exhibit

BY LENNIE BENNETT

Times Art Critic

The largest exhibition of African-American art it has ever presented opens Saturday at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, and one of the leading scholars of African-American art will deliver a talk about it on Sunday.

Deborah Willis, curator of "Mixing Metaphors: The Aesthetic, the Social and the Political in African-American Art from the Bank of America Collection" will be at the museum on Sunday for a talk about the show.

Willis, 65, is a creative force of protean energy. She is an artist and photographer with multiple degrees including a doctorate; the chair of photography and imaging at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University; a prolific independent curator; and author and co-author of 26 books. Oh, and among numerous awards is the MacArthur, commonly known as "the genius grant," which she received in 2000.

"I think of family life as a storytelling life," she said in a recent telephone interview. "I grew up in Philadelphia. My mother had a beauty shop and my father was a policeman but he also had a tailoring shop. People were transformed by images of beauty in those shops."

She became interested in art, especially photography as an art form, at an early age. Much of her work as a photographer and scholar has been linked to those early memories of family life and the beauty she found in it.

"But there were no African-American artists in my history books," she said. "So I have spent the last 30 years writing about African-American photographers."

She was invited by Bank of America, which owns a vast art collection including hundreds of works by African-American artists, to curate a show. She has chosen 90 paintings, prints, drawing, photographs and sculptures that she says tell a story of "making art with social and political implications and the metaphor of making art through political and social experiences." Among the 36 artists represented are Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, Martin Puryear, Sam Gilliam, Benny Andrews and John Biggers.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8293.

Comments
The Ringling’s ‘Aftermath’ photography exhibit shows horrors after war

The Ringling’s ‘Aftermath’ photography exhibit shows horrors after war

SARASOTAThere’s no question that war is hell, but as a civilian living in a country that hasn’t had a war on its soil in many, many years, images of the horrors of war can easily be avoided.Not only the act of war itself, but the consequences of it, ...
Published: 01/10/18
Cuba/US relations are explored at CAM and Cass gets Naughty by Nature at the Epicurean

Cuba/US relations are explored at CAM and Cass gets Naughty by Nature at the Epicurean

Societal Shifts: Climate ChangeThe new exhibition opening Friday at USF’s Contemporary Art Museum is not concerned with the hot button issue you’re thinking of. Instead, in "Climate Change: Cuba/USA," Cuban and Cuban-American artists explore the rece...
Published: 01/05/18
Updated: 01/10/18
Best of 2017: 10 phenomenal art exhibits from this year

Best of 2017: 10 phenomenal art exhibits from this year

At the close of a year that many are referring to as a dumpster fire, it’s actually refreshing to look back at the great visual art exhibitions shown in Tampa Bay in 2017. While a few were political in nature or included pieces that were, the e...
Published: 01/03/18
Updated: 01/04/18
Find your favorite author’s portrait at the library, and donate your art to make room for new ones in Downtown Dunedin

Find your favorite author’s portrait at the library, and donate your art to make room for new ones in Downtown Dunedin

WELL READ: LITERARY HEROESEvery artists needs a muse, and Sarasota artist Mike Hanlon’s are the world’s great authors. So it’s fitting that Hanlon’s exhibition of large-scale portraits, "Literary Heroes,e_SDRq is on display in Kotler Art Gallery at t...
Published: 01/03/18
Six local art exhibits you were too busy to see during the holidays

Six local art exhibits you were too busy to see during the holidays

The threshold of a new year is a good time to catch the art exhibitions you may have been too busy to check out. Here are few suggestions. TAMPA MUSEUM OF ART 120 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa; (813)421-8380; tampamuseum.org. TMA has several exhibits ...
Updated one month ago
New Port Richey gallery exhibit features local photography

New Port Richey gallery exhibit features local photography

NEW PORT RICHEY — The Gateway Gallery and Emporium on Grand Boulevard starts off the new year with a new exhibit featuring the digital photography of David J. Wright. An opening reception will be held Jan. 5 at the studio. The varied works of 24 gal...
Updated one month ago
Established and emerging photographers at FMoPA and new exhibits open at the Polk Museum

Established and emerging photographers at FMoPA and new exhibits open at the Polk Museum

PHOTO OP: FOURTH FRIDAY AT FMOPAThe Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa is a great asset to the arts community. Not only do they show important works from established photographers, but they also give their members the opportunity to show an...
Updated one month ago