ATLANTA, GA (June 30, 2023) – Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college for women located in Atlanta, Georgia, announces the first-ever national tour of its art collection. The tour, made possible through the Art Bridges Foundation, will travel the group exhibition Silver Linings: Celebrating the Spelman Art Collection to five institutions across the United States, beginning with Vassar College in September. Through the work of nearly 40 artists, Silver Linings uplifts the legacy of artists of African descent spanning the 20th Century through the contemporary moment, many of whom have been overlooked by mainstream art museums.
“Spelman’s art collection has long been regarded as a hidden gem and we have lent individual works of art for many years. Now, we are excited to share a selection of works by artists who shape our collection with audiences around the United States for the first time,” said Dr. Liz Andrews, Executive Director, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. “Our hope is that this tour will raise awareness of the work we are doing in Atlanta to uplift Black women artists.”
Though Spelman College Museum of Fine Art was founded in 1996 with a mission to uplift art by and about women of the African diaspora, the college’s art collecting dates back to 1899. Originally curated by Spelman College Museum of Fine Art Executive Director Liz Andrews and Curator-in-Residence Karen Comer Lowe, Silver Linings celebrates Spelman College’s art collection while looking to the important role Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have had in providing exhibition opportunities and establishing provenance for Black artists.
The full list of exhibited artists include: Amalia Amaki, Emma Amos, Benny Andrews, Firelei Báez, Herman “Kofi” Bailey, Romare Bearden, Betty Blayton, Beverly Buchanan, Selma Burke, Elizabeth Catlett, Floyd Coleman, Renée Cox, Myra Greene, Sam Gilliam, Samella Lewis, Glenn Ligon, Howardena Pindell, Lucille Malkia Roberts, Deborah Roberts, Faith Ringgold, Nellie Mae Rowe, Lorna Simpson, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Lina Iris Viktor, Carrie Mae Weems and Hale Woodruff.
The exhibition first premiered at Spelman Museum of Fine Art from March 1 until June 30, 2022, in celebration of the museum’s 25th anniversary and will tour first to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College from September 30, 2023, until January 22, 2024. Originally founded as a women’s college, Vassar brings Silver Linings to its museum on the occasion of two additional anniversaries – 30 years of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center’s completion by Cesar Pelli and 160 years of collecting art. The presentation at Vassar honors the histories of female colleges while looking ahead to its own future as it focuses attention on the work of more women artists, artists of color and other underrepresented artists.
The exhibition Silver Linings: Celebrating the Spelman Art Collection has received financial support from Art Bridges Foundation. The vision of philanthropist Alice Walton, Art Bridges is dedicated to expanding access to American Art around the country, and the foundation works with museums of all sizes to create and support arts programs that educate, inspire and deepen engagement with local audiences.
“We are honored to partner with the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art to make their extraordinary collection accessible to audiences around the country,” said Paul R. Provost, CEO of Art Bridges. “Our partner museums presenting Silver Linings: Celebrating the Spelman Art Collection are excited to be sharing with their communities some of the finest examples of works by African American artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. This is a wonderful opportunity for our partner museums, and we’re grateful to Spelman College for their generosity in making these works available.”
Like its original presentation at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Silver Linings at Vassar College will highlight the work of masters, pioneers and trailblazers who anchor the Spelman Collection, grouped in four distinct sections beginning with artists who were part of the Spiral Group such as Emma Amos and Romare Bearden; artists who embraced abstraction and traditional figurative styles, including Betty Blayton, Elizabeth Catlett and Faith Ringgold; with the final two sections focusing on contemporary art, including photographers Myra Greene, Lorna Simpson and Carrie Mae Weems, as well as today’s artists embracing figuration through a more contemporary lens.
“We are honored to be the first stop for Silver Linings: Celebrating the Spelman Art Collection. I had the privilege of experiencing the exhibition firsthand in Atlanta and was immediately struck by the strength and depth of the collection as well as the organic synergies between the histories of Spelman and Vassar, as well as the visions guiding both institutions today,” said Mary-Kay Lombino, Deputy Director and Emily Hargroves Fisher ’57 and Richard B. Fisher Curator at The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College.
Following its presentation at Vassar College, Silver Linings will travel to Boise Art Museum, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Harn Museum of Art and Hunter Museum of American Art. Please click here for a full list of institutions and exhibition dates.
Silver Linings: Celebrating the Spelman Art Collection is organized by Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts, Atlanta, Georgia and curated by Liz Andrews and Karen Comer Lowe with initial contributions from Anne Collins Smith. Generous support provided by Art Bridges.