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Work by Faculty Member Lien Truong in Upcoming Solo and Group Shows

August 24, 2022

Turner Carroll Gallery
Lien Truong: From the Earth Rise Radiant Beings
August 26 – September 25, 2022
Opening Reception, August 26, 5-7 pm

In her first solo exhibition at Turner Carroll Gallery Lien Truong exhibits works from her series From the Earth Rise Radiant Beings. The series consists of bold explorations of color and form, and staunch repudiation of Orientalist stereotypes. Taking female figures from 18th- and 19th-century paintings she transforms them into silhouettes painted in the palest yellow hues and reappropriates the figures’ sexualized and submissive gestures into a kind of Asian futurism. Through otherworldly landscapes and anamorphic silk shapes, Truong creates narratives of love transcending generations to create messages of resistance, autonomy, and beauty.

View work in the exhibition.

Patricia Sweetow Gallery Los Angeles
Linda Sormin | Luis A. Sahagun | Lien Truong
September 3 – October 15, 2022
Artist Reception, September 10, 2022, 2-8 pm

PATRICIA SWEETOW GALLERY is excited to announce our Inaugural Exhibition in Los Angeles at 1700 South Santa Fe Avenue, 3rd Floor, with artists Lien Truong, North Carolina; Linda Sormin, New York and Luis A. Sahagun, California. The three artists in this exhibition offer practices immersed in complex visual and political American histories. They share personal, spiritual, and cultural stories of migration during war, economic collapse, and sovereign colonization. Their journeys come alive through a mélange of performative sculpture and painting, amplified by their respective interrogations of ancestral, racial, gender, and ritual erasure. The rich, profound impact of their ideas finds life in unexpected iterations of nontraditional and historical materials. The three artists offer compelling and imaginative cultural forms that examine deeply personal histories that have endured within and alongside dominant culture under extraordinary circumstances.

In Memoriam: Former Faculty Member Michael D. Harris

August 1, 2022

From his obituary in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (author Bo Emerson):

Michael D. Harris, associate professor of art history at Emory University, a published author, a curator, and an artist collected by individuals and museums, has been described as a Renaissance man.

But there was at least one discipline he couldn’t master: He was bested by a fiendish reed instrument called the saxophone.

His abandoned alto sax sits on top of Rev. Dwight Andrews’ piano. Andrews, a fellow Emory University professor and an accomplished musician and composer, began teaching Harris saxophone when they were both students at Yale University.

Harris never got the knack, prompting his friend Adger Cowans, a “closet” horn player, to tell him, “Michael, give me that saxophone, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

What Harris did know was the academic study of African and African-American art. He also knew how to create his own art. One of the mixed-media collages that typified Harris’ work became the centerpiece of Andrews’ living room, a celebration of ancestral images that serves as a “family altar.”

A self-portrait collage by Michael D. Harris was part of a show by the artist at September Gray Fine Art Gallery. Image: Michael D. Harris

Credit: Michael D. Harris

Harris’ research and writings concerning the art of the African diaspora will have a deep impact on that field, said Andrews. “He casts a long shadow over what we think about 20th and 21st-century Black art.”

Michael DeHart Harris, of Grant Park, died Monday, July 11, of a recurrence of cancer, according to his family members. He had retired two years ago from Emory but retained the title of associate professor emeritus. He was 73.

Though he was facing cancer of the esophagus, he remained resolutely in his own home, where he lived alone, up until the last week of his life. Family and friends often spent nights there to help out.

“He was a very stubborn guy,” said his daughter Dara Heard. “That is his way. When he set his mind to something, he stuck to it. He said ‘I’m going to fight this and he fought to the very end.”

Harris was a shortstop on the baseball team as an undergraduate at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, carrying on a legacy of athleticism established by his maternal grandfather and namesake, William DeHart Hubbard.

Hubbard, a student at the University of Michigan, won the long jump at the 1924 Paris Games, becoming the first Black athlete to bring home Olympic gold in an individual sport.

The grandson, however, turned his attention from baseball to the study of art and art history in college and graduate school, earning a master of fine arts and eventually a doctorate from Yale.

He taught at Morehouse College, Spelman College, Wellesley College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Dillard University before arriving at Emory.

While at Emory he published “Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation,” which dealt with the construction of Black identity through racial imagery, and with the response from Black artists, whose work uses and subverts those stereotypical tropes.

“It is a really important book,” said Richard Powell, professor of art history at Duke University. Another book, “ASHÉ: Ritual Poetics in African Diasporic Expressivity,” written with Paul Carter Harrison and Pellom McDaniels III, has just been released, and “Sanctuary: A Black and Blues Aesthetic in African American Art,” is at the publisher, according to daughter Shani Harris.

Powell said Harris’ legacy will be his deep and thoughtful inquiry into the intersection of art and the African American experience. But he is also impressed with Harris’ other creative output.

“The thing about Michael is he has been able to do what I’ve not been able to do,” said Powell. “There’s an interesting balance between his vocation as an art historian, but he’s also an incredible artist. He makes incredible paintings, he makes amazing photographs.”

Powell has several of Harris’ photographs and prints in his Durham house, and said “there’s not a day that goes by without me walking past something of his that brings a smile to my face.”

Said Andrews, “Michael was prolific in terms of his published work — his books — as well as his fine art. He was constantly creating art.”

Andrews added “He was always having a multidisciplinary conversation, always making connections. He inspired all of us to look for connectivity and continuity. We all found him to be a stimulating friend and colleague.”

In 1979 Harris joined the AfriCOBRA collective (it stands for African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists). The group had its origin in Chicago in the 1960s, among Black artists tired of catering to a white aesthetic.

“He kind of emphasized AfriCOBRA, as being the Black Panthers of the art world,” said fellow member Kevin Cole, Atlanta painter and educator who was invited into the group by Harris. “It was about a group of men coming together and planning their own destiny.”

Michael D. Harris (right), eminent curator, artist and scholar, had his work exhibited alongside art from the best among African American artists, including David Driskell (left). Photo: Susan Ross

Credit: Susan Ross

Cole is among the individuals portrayed in Harris’ images from a 2017 show called “Art Portraits of the Artist.” Staged at September Gray Fine Art, Harris’ photographs captured “the artist’s spirit,” said Cole. “There’s one of me, and the first thing everybody said to me is: ‘That’s you!’ The joyfulness.”

Cowans, who is also a member of AfriCOBRA, said that unlike himself, Harris was not a pessimist. “Everybody is selfish, they don’t give a (expletive), but Michael always looked at the best part of people.”

Harris’ daughter Dara said the setbacks in Harris’ life from casual racism didn’t slow him down. “That was something he would get on me about,” she said. “Don’t let your fears hold you back. To keep going, keep stepping, keep moving. Because that’s what he did. He was dealt a lot of blows in his life, but it didn’t stop him.”

Plans for a service for the late Michael D. Harris were incomplete as of Wednesday, July 20.

Link to the Journal-Constitution Obituary: Michael Harris, scholar, creator, inspired with his research, artwork

In Memoriam: James E. Newton, first African-American graduate of MFA program

July 5, 2022

Dr. James E. Newton, a beloved instructor and mentor to many, sadly departed this earthly life on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, following a gradual decline in health. He was 80 years old.

Dr. Newton was born on July 3, 1941, in Bridgeton, New Jersey to the late Clifford and Hilda Newton, the 4th of their nine children. After serving as a military policeman in the Army, he received his B.A. in Art and German from North Carolina Central University, a Masters of Fine Art (MFA) from UNC-Chapel Hill, and a Doctorate in Curriculum Development in Black Studies and Education from Illinois State University. An award-winning artist, Dr. Newton was the first African-American to receive an MFA degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

In addition to his love of art, Dr. Newton had a passion for teaching and mentoring young people, which he was able to do for many years while serving as a tenured professor and director of Black American Studies at the University of Delaware.
He is the author of several books, including The Principles of Diversity, The Other Slaves, Curriculum Evaluation of Student Knowledge of Afro-American Life and History, and numerous articles on multicultural education, African-American art, and diversity. In addition to being an inductee into the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, he is also the recipient of the University of Delaware’s Excellence in Teaching Award, and most recently, a recipient of the University’s Honorary Doctorate.
An active member of the community, Dr. Newton served on the board of many organizations, including the Walnut Street YMCA, Delaware State Arts Council, Delaware Art Museum, The Tatnall School, Public Allies, and others. He was also a 50+ year member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Dr. Newton lived an exceptional life that has served as a model for younger generations to follow. He was not only a loving husband, devoted father, and friend to many, but he was a true inspiration to those whose lives he touched. He will be greatly missed by all that had the privilege to be a part of his life.

Dr. Newton is preceded in death by his brother David.

Dr. Newton is survived by his wife of 54 years, LaWanda; his daughters, Regina, Walidah, and KaWansi; grandchildren Sean, Imevar, Nahlia, Isis, and Indigo; siblings Charles, George, Mary, Margaret, Katherine, Ann, and Jeffrey; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Alumnus Ripley Whiteside Online Exhibition at Red Arrow Gallery

June 21, 2022

Red Arrow is pleased to present Ripley Whiteside’s Polyethylene, an online exclusive exhibition opening June 17th and continuing through August 20th.

“For these paintings, I applied watercolor to paper through polyethylene matrixes: plastic grocery store bags and polyester dryer sheets. In spite of well-meaning efforts, most plastic is not recycled; tossed in a can but eventually buried in the landscape, much of it becomes visually inert. As a landfill, plastic becomes part of a grand chemical experiment, a long uncharted journey of disintegration and coalescence. How will the decomposition of these massively distributed, chemically complex objects shape their environment? These paintings imagine landscapes of that future.”

Ripley Whiteside was born in 1982 and grew up in Chapel Hill and Durham, NC. He received his MFA from SUNY-Buffalo in 2012, where he also taught foundations art courses, and his BFA from UNC-CH in 2008. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions in the US and Canada, and has been a resident at Willapa Bay A.I.R, The Peanut Factory, I-Park, and The Vermont Studio Center. His work is represented by Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporaries (Montreal) and Red Arrow Gallery (Nashville). He lives and works in Nashville, TN.

MFA Alumnus Michael J Bramwell appointed curator at Boston MFA

June 8, 2022

Michael Bramwell

Congratulations to MFA alumnus Michael J. Bramwell, who was recently appointed as the inaugural Linde Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston! The creation of the new position is part of an initiative designed to reanimate and reimagine the MFA’s storied folk-art collection for 21st-century audiences, supported by longtime trustee Joyce Linde. Collaborating with fellow curators in the Art of the Americas Department and colleagues across the Museum, Bramwell will develop innovative exhibitions, collection displays and public programs—envisioning new ways to make folk and self-taught art accessible, relevant, and important to the lives of visitors. He will begin his new role on June 1.

Bramwell’s scholarship and research has explored the visual and material culture of the African diaspora in the American South from the 19th through the 20th centuries. He currently serves as Visiting Guest Curator at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he is organizing the exhibition House Party: R.S.V.P. B.Y.O.B. Bramwell has collaborated on exhibitions, workshops and visiting critic engagements with the North Carolina Museum of Art, MoMA PS1, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Maryland Institute College of Art. He has been awarded two Andrew W. Mellon Humanities for the Public Good Fellowships for his work at MESDA and the Ackland Art Museum. Bramwell is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where his dissertation is focused on resistance in the art of enslaved potter David Drake. As a visual artist, Bramwell has been featured in a wide range of solo and group exhibitions, including at the MoMA P.S.1, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Jack Tilton Gallery. His work can be found in the collections of the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, the New School University, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, among many others. He holds an M.F.A. from UNC Chapel Hill, an M.A. in special education from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. Bramwell’s work is supported by the Joan Mitchell, Andrew W. Mellon, and Pollock-Krasner foundations.
“As a practicing artist and academically-trained art historian, Michael Bramwell brings a distinct perspective to folk and self-taught art. His commitment to telling new stories and reaching beyond the canon promises to reenergize the display and interpretation of this material at the MFA. It is an honor to welcome Michael to Boston,” said Ethan Lasser, John Moors Cabot Chair, Art of the Americas.

The MFA has long collected folk art—broadly defined—in many genres, with notable strength in works made in the northeastern U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries. Highlights include important paintings by Erastus Salisbury Field, William Matthew Prior and Rufus Porter, nearly 350 works on paper from the Karolik Collection, a significant collection of American quilts, and select examples of painted furniture and sculptural forms. The new Folk Art Initiative positions the MFA as a global leader in reinvigorating and rethinking a body of material that challenges narrow definitions of “what is art” and “who is an artist’—and creates space for the greater inclusion of voices, narratives and histories, offering a unique point of access and invitation to visitors. A cross-departmental team, which included curators, conservators and staff members from the Learning and Community Engagement division, developed a strategic framework for the Folk Art Initiative to evolve and unfold over the next several years. This collaborative process laid the groundwork for the MFA’s 2021 exhibition Collecting Stories: The Invention of Folk Art (generously supported by the Henry Luce Foundation), which explored the history and evolution of the term “folk art” by reconsidering works on paper and sculpture from the Karolik Collection.

With support for exhibitions, programs and interpretation, the Linde Curator will have the platform to galvanize colleagues across the Museum to think anew about folk art in the Americas and across the globe, and explore new ways to make the collection accessible, relevant and important to the lives of visitors today. Through the Folk Art Initiative, the MFA will place folk and self-taught art in dialogue with other art forms across disciplines—particularly contemporary art—integrate folk art into existing learning programs, and invite members of the Museum’s teen programs and community partners to offer fresh perspectives on interpretation and the stories told in the galleries.