To Conserve a Legacy: American Art from Historically Black Universities and Colleges
For more than 100 years, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have been in the forefront of the preservation of African-American history and culture, building important collections of African-American art as well as European and American modernism. To Conserve a Legacy celebrated the rich artistic legacy housed in the collections of these institutions. Presenting an extraordinary selection of American paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and sculpture, the exhibition featured the work of Aaron Douglas, Arthur Dove, Lois Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Steiglitz among others. To Conserve a Legacy is a multi-faceted project developed by a consortium of institutions to conserve, document and present more than 150 works of art owned by Clark Atlanta University, Fisk University, Hampton University, Howard University, North Carolina Central University and Tuskegee University.
“The collections amassed by HBCUs are a national treasure featuring the full scope of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American art, but one that has been sadly unknown to many people,” says co-curator Dr. Richard Powell, Chair, Department of Art and Art History, Duke University. “To Conserve a Legacy showcases six of these magnificent collections, encompassing works by artists from Georgia O’Keeffe to Jacob Lawrence, to place African-American art within a broader cultural, historical and social context, and allow audiences to build a deep appreciation and understanding of its role in the American art historical canon.”
This exhibition project consists of four components — conservation, conservation training, exhibition and publication. Each component is designed to raise the visibility of the national resources that are housed in the collections of historically black colleges and universities.
“This project provides a unique forum for institutions, students, scholars, conservators, and curators to collaborate with one another in an important and meaningful way,” says co-curator Jock Reynolds, Director, Yale University Art Gallery. “To Conserve a Legacy brings together many artists and ideas, spanning more than 150 years of education and creative expression, and through the conservation of this rich and diverse legacy, preserves this area of American visual culture for generations to come – for students and scholars, for artists, for families and children, and for the general public. It has been a great honor to work with all the consortium partners to make this project a reality.”