HomeAnnouncement“Call & Response: Collecting African American Art” June 19 through November...

“Call & Response: Collecting African American Art” June 19 through November 28, 2021

Exhibition Celebrates Works by Black Artists in the MWPAI Collection

UTICA, NY…More than 30 years of acquiring works by Black artists will be celebrated in the exhibition, “Call & Response: Collecting African American Art” at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art June 19 through November 28, 2021.

Historically, works by Black artists have been marginalized, neglected, or ignored, said Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Mary Murray. This exhibition will reveal the extraordinary depth and richness these works have brought to the Munson-Williams collection through early and sustained efforts to diversify its holdings.

Murray stressed that since the Museum of Art primarily focuses on artists from the United States, it is important to bring as many perspectives as possible to bear on the works that are preserved in the collection. “Art museums are established to be repositories of cultural heritage, to collect and exhibit objects that are considered aesthetically and historically significant,” Murray remarked. “There should be a diverse range of stories being shared.”

Artists in the exhibition include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Norman Lewis, Alison Saar, Betye Saar, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, and many others.

To enhance the viewing experience, the exhibition includes commentary by seven Utica-area African American contributors (two college students, a health professional, a professor of sociology, a minister, a professor of art, a medical professional, and a Utica city administrator). These local citizens recorded a collection of comments using music, personal history, and comparative works of art. “The community members’ interpretations of the artworks add a refreshing perspective,” observed Museum of Art Education Director April Oswald. “As African Americans, they share experiences represented in some of the works as well as insights into the artists’ choice of subject, environment, and challenges.”


About Munson-Williams

Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute creates transformational arts experiences that cultivate curiosity and creativity, enlighten, educate, and inspire.

With 12,000 pieces in its permanent collection, concerts, community classes and the PrattMWP College of Art and Design, Munson-Williams is the cultural heart of Central New York.

It is the vision of Munson-Williams to be a vibrant and welcoming cultural resource for the community by offering meaningful educational and entertaining experiences that foster substantial connections within the community and enhance the quality of life in our region.

Munson-Williams is located at 310 Genesee Street, Utica, NY. 13502, 315-797-0000, mwpai.org




Image Captions

Romare Bearden (American, 1911–88)

Before the Dark, 1971

Collage on cardboard, 18 x 24 in.

Museum Purchase, 72.8


Alison Saar (American, born 1956)

Delta Blues, 1998

Hammered copper with nails over wood, 38 x 18 x 25 in.

Museum Purchase, 2002.24



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