|Welcome to the online version of the exhibition Freedom of Expression: Politics and Aesthetics in African American Art, which was on view at the Colby College Museum of Art from March 4 through June 13, 2010.
Julie Levin Caro, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in American Art at Colby College, organized this exhibition to support her African American art survey course as well as several other Colby courses taught during the Spring 2010 semester.
The works of art in this virtual exhibition can be viewed in two ways. On the EXHIBIT page we have reproduced the organization of the artworks as they were displayed in the original Museum exhibition. On the ARTISTS pages, you can read more about the individual artworks in relation to the careers of the artists and the history of American art.
|Overview of the Exhibition:
In both style and subject matter, the works in this exhibition exemplify the diversity of artistic sensibilities and aesthetic, social, and political goals that constitute the art-historical category of African American art.
In the Colby College Museum of Art display, the works shown in the first gallery date from the late 19th century to 1969. The adjacent gallery continued chronologically with works from the 1970s to the present. This arrangement encouraged viewers to consider the contribution of African American artists to a broad range of artistic movements and trends within the history of American art, including academicism, the Harlem Renaissance and its legacy of a black aesthetic, Social Realism, Figural Expressionism, the Civil Rights era’s art of protest, and contemporary modes of abstraction and conceptualism. In addition, several narrative themes connect works across time and artistic media. These include portraiture and black Christian and African themes as well as responses to racism and the tradition of slavery.
Students in Professor Caro’s African American art survey researched and wrote the descriptive texts for the artwork displayed on the ARTISTS pages, and they participated in several exhibition-related events, including the presentation of their research in two public gallery talks.
In addition to making a broad range of artworks from the history of African American art available for firsthand study, the exhibition offered Professor Caro’s students the opportunity to reflect upon issues of the canonization of African American art, the formation of a black aesthetic, and the politics of museum display.