Black History Month, explored through art

By Jessika Fulton/Staff reporter

The Amarillo Museum of Art’s newest exhibit consists of 85 artworks by African-American artists, one of the largest collections in the country, collected by two individuals from San Antonio, Harmon and Harriet Kelley.

One of the artists that is also being featured at the AMoA, is self-taught artist Vanessa German, the winner of the 2018 Don Tyson Prize.

Deana Craighead, the museum curator of education,  said what is significant about the exhibit is the perspective of the artists on everyday life and race. She also said German’s art is the best representative of this.

“Vanessa German is creating artworks in order to communicate ideas about her own experiences. Her power figures are the embodiment of her life and the viewer can bring their own interpretation,” Craighead said.

The Harmon and Harriet Collection will be shown through March 29, and the Vanessa German exhibit will be up through April 5.

“African-American artists have often been overlooked, but within the Kelley Collection, we are able to see the contributions made in cultural movements like the Harlem Renaissance, technical and artistic realms such as printmaking and the ways in which they collaborated with each other, both inside and outside the borders of the United States,” said Craighead.

Cecilia Mendoza, an art major and art club president, said the exhibit was beautiful and insightful.

“African-American art, I believe, has evolved in popularity in the sense that now it is shown in modern media and can be openly celebrated and shown in museums. I loved the installations by Vanessa German and being able to view and enjoy this art that was private for so long is just amazing,” Mendoza said.

In conjunction with the art show, at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20, Layota Lain, from the Amarillo Opera, will be having a live performance in the AC Concert Hall. She will be performing her lecture recital of “Narrative of a slave women: Songs of hope, justice and freedom.”

Mary Jane Johnson, the director of Amarillo Opera and music professor, said it is a wonderful collaboration that is free and beneficial to all.

“This is to celebrate the Black History month of February. It is most important to recognize the incredible black artists both visually and in song,” Johnson said.

Johnson also said the performance will be music to the ears. “We are honored to present all of these artists at Amarillo College and thrilled to be able to collaborate together and invite the public to enjoy, as well. I have heard the program and it is amazing,” she said.

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