AFRICA FORECAST: Fashioning Contemporary Life
September 15 – December 3, 2016
AFRICA FORECAST: Fashioning Contemporary Life, an original exhibition, launched the Museum’s 20th anniversary. The exhibition positioned fashion through two overlapping perspectives: an ever-changing global marketplace and the unique ways that black women throughout the African Diaspora construct their lives. AFRICA FORECAST featured work by black women artists and designers who shape, imagine, and redefine the impact of lifestyle in highly imaginative ways.
For the groundbreaking artists and designers in AFRICA FORECAST, style serves as endless inspiration for new approaches to dressing, social relationships, and activism. They stretch the boundaries of fashion’s influence in art and design, reflecting its ability to communicate complex social and cultural perspectives. As a result, the exhibition encouraged visitors to explore fashion’s changing shape in art and in their daily lives. AFRICA FORECAST provided a dynamic snapshot of this global reflection on style through garments, photography, video, painting, and sculpture.
AFRICA FORECAST: Fashioning Contemporary Life was curated by Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D. and Erika Dalya Massaquoi, Ph.D.
AFRICA FORECAST: Fashioning Contemporary Life was made possible by
BLACK CHRONICLES II
January 28 – May 14, 2016
Black Chronicles II, an exhibition organized by Autograph ABP, London, in collaboration with the Hulton Archive, a division of Getty Images, was curated by Renée Mussai and Mark Sealy. It made available for the first time newly discovered photographs that document the presence of black subjects in late 19th century Britain. For more information click here.
August 25 – December 5, 2015
Howardena Pindell is an outspoken artist, writer, curator, and professor whose career reflects the spirit of a creative risk taker, seasoned traveler, and an advocate for equality. She has been an influential figure in the art world for over 40 years. The solo exhibition Howardena Pindell features her oblong and un-stretched canvases, as well as her experimentation with hole-punched dots, hand drawn arrows, printed text, and personal postcards. The exhibition spotlights Pindell’s dynamic oeuvre that blends her abstract formal sensibilities, personal memory, and activism.
This exhibition is made possible by the Wish Foundation, Inc. and the LUBO Fund. Additional support provided by the Fulton County Commissioners under the guidance of Fulton County Arts & Culture.
Maren Hassinger . . . Dreaming
(February 12 – May 16, 2015)
For more than four decades Maren Hassinger (b. 1947) has been recognized as a pioneering artist who mindfully explores our relationship to nature, movement, and transformation. Maren Hassinger . . . Dreaming featuring sculpture, videos, and installations—several which were recreated expressly for this project—is a long awaited and timely examination of the artist’s life and work. This original exhibition, curated by Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D. and Anne Collins Smith, brings a substantial body of Hassinger’s work, created from 1986 to the present, to the Southeast for the first time.
Maren Hassinger . . . Dreaming is made possible by
the Friends of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art.
Additional support provided by
The forthcoming catalogue was made possible by with support from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.
Brides of Anansi
Fiber and Contemporary Art
(September 4 – December 6, 2014)
Fiber is a medium of enormous complexity, versatility, tenacity, and longevity that has been mastered by women from the earliest beginnings of human history. Brides of Anansi: Fiber and Contemporary Art will explore how fiber has become a distinctive voice of women of the African Diaspora to articulate identity, relationships, history, experiences, and artistry about the world(s) in which they live. This exhibition spins, weaves, twists, and loops through the ancient lens of the popular Ghanian folk hero Kweku Anansi who also traveled during the Middle passage to the Caribbean and southern regions of the United States. Anansi is the Akan word for spider, however this is no ordinary spider as the women in this exhibition are no ordinary fiber artists. Anansi is a spider who uses his silk/skill to orchestrate wisdom and speech. He is known to teach agriculture to mankind and is also the god of all stories who created the sun, moon, and stars. These stories are known and revered throughout the African Diaspora and provide an abundance of opportunity for the artistic imagination and intellect to express revelatory world views.
In the works of Xenobia Bailey, Sonya Clark, Januwa Moja, Senga Nengudi, Nnenna Okore, Joyce J. Scott, Adejoke Tugbiyele, and Saya Woolfalk one finds the symbolic representation of the spider’s eight legs. Each artist defines an artistic language and vocabulary that also recalls the role of Madam DeFarge in Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities as her encoded knitted subversive stitchery defined a tumultuous period of history through the use of a fiber medium. The exhibiting artists manipulate a diverse range of fiber media that display vibrant and inventive techniques in yarn, paper, glass, metal, synthetics, and textiles. These artists express an artistry and aesthetic that has been for too long dismissed often for reasons of gender, race, media, and mainstream preferences. Fiber requires a very intellectual, intimate, and complex knowledge of the relationship between the nature of materials, process, and conceptual design and symbolic meaning to the real and spiritual world. Brides of Anansi will open new windows of wonder to the interlaced webs in the nature of our Universe and the real and imaging worlds of these artists. Brides of Anansi: Fiber and Contemporary Art is organized by Lowery Stokes Sims, Ph.D., Curator Museum of Arts and Design (New York) and Leslie King-Hammond, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore).
This exhibition is made possible by
Tales of the Conjure Woman
(January 30 – May 17, 2014)
For many years, Renée Stout has used her alter ego Fatima Mayfield, a fictitious herbalist/fortuneteller, as a vehicle to role-play and confront issues such as romantic relationships, social ills, or financial woes in a way that is open, creative and humorous. Renée Stout: Tales of the Conjure Woman brings together painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, glassblowing, installation, and compelling storytelling. Through an arresting body of works of art, which are intricate and detailed, Stout expresses the magical trait of the conjure woman: the ability to see the world through two sets of eyes — one on the physical realm, the other on the spiritual.
Renée Stout: Tales of the Conjure Woman was produced by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and co-organized with the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art and the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, Hamilton College.
This exhibition was made possible by
Additional support provided by the Fulton County Commissioners under the guidance of Fulton County Arts & Culture.
Exhibition-related programs were made possible with support from the Mary Alice and Bennett Brown Foundation, Inc.
In African American Culture
(September 5 – December 7, 2013)
The Museum’s presentation of Posing Beauty in African American Culture featured more than 75 photographs by leading, emerging, and amateur photographers. It explored the ways in which our contemporary understanding of beauty has been informed by photographers and artists working from 1890 to the present. The exhibition incorporated a diverse range of media including photography, film, video, fashion, and other forms of popular culture and prompts rich discussions about the contested ways that African and African American beauty have been represented in historical and contemporary contexts.
Posing Beauty in African American Culture was curated by Deborah Willis and organized by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Pasadena, California. The Museum acknowledges support from:
Hear more about what prompted Deb Willis to organize Posing Beauty in African American Culture.
Perspectives on the Spelman College Collection
(February 7 – May 18, 2013)
The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art invited students, faculty, staff, Friends of the Museum, alumnae, and other stakeholders to help select the objects, which were featured in the exhibition Multiple Choice: Perspectives on the Spelman College Collection. This project allowed 50 participants to select, engage, and discuss specific works from the College’s permanent collection. They were then asked to select the object that compels them most and document why. Participants’ video segments, musical responses, poems, first-person narratives, and experimental writing breathed new life into the College’s permanent holdings. All of the chosen works, along with the written and recorded responses, were all featured in Multiple Choice.
Multiple Choice considered and quenched the thirst for on-demand access. This unique exhibition project affirmed that viewing art is an interactive experience. It was inspired by the premise that, as in multiple choice texts, the answer is more often than not “all of the above.” It encouraged visitors to participate in the exciting process of responding to works of art. The Museum is especially grateful to the participants who enlivened this project. All are acknowledged in the exhibition brochure.
Contemporary Black Women Artists
(September 6 – December 1, 2012)
Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists (September 6 – December 1, 2012) featured works by Chakaia Booker, Sonya Clark, Maya Freelon Asante, Maren Hassinger, Martha Jackson Jarvis, Joyce J. Scott, and Renée Stout. Each of the seven artists incorporate a range of materials including hair, beads, tissue paper, volcanic stone, rubber tires, and plastic into their work. They remain keenly attentive to the pleasures derived from the sense of touch. Using both delicate and resilient materials, they build monumental sculptures, shape richly textured surfaces, apply intricate handiwork, and create provocative assemblages. Fervently working at the intersection of art and material culture, the featured artists explore how to value the materials around us and shape our lives and livelihoods through our own making.
Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists was developed and organized by the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. The exhibition was curated by Michelle Joan Wilkinson, Ph.D.
This exhibition was made possible by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of Fulton County Arts and Culture
American People, Black Light
Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s
(February 2 – May 19, 2012)
Faith Ringgold (b. 1930) is well-known as the progenitor of the African American story quilt revival that began in the late 1970s. In the 1960s, however, she found her political voice and discovered artistic methods to express it by painting two important series, American People and Black Light. Both series inform works she has created throughout her career and shed broader light on artistic production of the 1960s. Additionally, they provide critical insight into what it meant to be an African American woman artist during that time. However, with only a few notable exceptions, these works disappeared from view. Now, more than forty years after they were created, the Museum was proud to present the first comprehensive survey of these paintings.
The nationally touring exhibition American People, Black Light also highlighted Ringgold’s role as an artist activist and included a selection of her political posters. For the Woman’s House, a mural that she created in 1971 for the Woman’s House of Detention on Rikers Island was on view to the public for the first time.
American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s was curated by Miami Art Museum Director Thom Collins and Neuberger Museum of Art Curator and Purchase College Associate Professor of Art History Tracy Fitzpatrick with students from the Purchase College, SUNY, spring 2010 Art History Exhibition Seminar. Exhibition support has been provided by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.
This exhibition was made possible by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of Fulton County Arts and Culture
15 x 15
The 15th Anniversary Acquisitions Exhibition
(September 8 – December 3, 2011)
When the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art was established in 1996, it became the repository for the art collection that Spelman College had amassed over several decades. Over the last 15 years, the Museum has safeguarded the permanent collection and honed its unique mission to emphasize art by and about women of the African Diaspora. The Museum has established a growing reputation for presenting exhibitions that complement the academic curriculum and appeal to the wider community. Meanwhile, it has strategically been identifying and pursuing its mission-focused acquisition priorities and working to expand the College’s permanent holdings.
15 x 15: The 15th Anniversary Acquisitions Exhibition included a selection of signature works and recent gifts from Spelman College’s permanent collection. It also introduced the wish list of works by 15 artists that the College aims to purchase through 15 x 15—a special anniversary acquisitions initiative. The Fifteen were each featured in recent Museum exhibitions. Insightful responses from students, faculty, and the general public in large part informed, which artists were ultimately selected as part of The Fifteen.
15 x 15: The 15th Anniversary Acquisitions Exhibition resisted presenting the works thematically or chronologically. Instead, they were arranged to highlight the scope of works in the collection, emphasize their significant links with the soon to be acquired works, and demonstrate the dynamic range of Spelman College’s collecting interests.
15 x 15: The 15th Anniversary Acquisitions Exhibition commemorated the Museum’s significant milestone. Deliberately fusing old and new, it created a context for Spelman College’s past, present, and future collecting efforts. The Museum appealed to visitors, donors, and contributors to financially support this special acquisitions project. Collective efforts helped grow the Museum’s unique emphasis on black women artists and catapult the institution into the next phase of its evolution.
Click here to access the 15×15 Exhibition Brochure.
Click here to learn more about how acquisitions made through the 15 x 15 Acquisitions Initiative expand the College’s permanent holdings.
For the Museum’s complete exhibition history, please email the Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org