Dayton Art Institute hosts juried exhibition showcasing contemporary African American art


Dayton Art Institute presents “Black Heritage Through Visual Rhythms”

The Dayton Art Institute (DAI) has partnered with the African American Visual Artists Guild (AAVAG) of Dayton to present the juried exhibition Black Heritage Through Visual Rhythms, on view at DAI February 26-May 22.

This is the seventh annual Black Heritage Through Visual Rhythms showcase hosted by the Guild of African American Visual Artists and the first time the exhibit will be held at the Dayton Art Institute.

This national juried exhibition highlights outstanding contemporary art – including paintings, sculpture, multi-media art, printmaking and photography – by emerging and nationally recognized African-American artists from around the United States. Black Heritage Through Visual Rhythms features over 80 works of art by 44 African American artists working today.

“This exhibition has taken several years to prepare,” said DAI Chief Curator and Director of Education Jerry N. Smith. “Originally planned for 2020, it’s exciting to finally see it come to fruition. We now have the opportunity to present these vibrant works of individual expression by over 40 artists to our guests. It will be a memorable experience for those who visit.

“African American art is so deeply intertwined with the history of race in the United States – from colonial slavery to the civil rights movement through today,” said AAVAG President, B. Cato Mayberry. “The works featured in the Black Heritage Through Visual Rhythms exhibition are much more than a collection of personal statements about identity or recorded moments in history. They have a power, beauty and meaning that goes beyond categorization to achieve universal and timeless appeal.

The mix of local and national artists in the exhibit represents 11 different states. Responding to a call for submissions, the final works were selected by internationally acclaimed artists Dean Mitchell (Florida) and Andrew Scott (Texas), with additions by members of the AAVAG exhibition committee.

As this exhibition demonstrates, there is no overarching African American style or singular Black American aesthetic. The exhibition reflects the diverse backgrounds and interests of the artists and includes art in a variety of styles and media. Through personal expressions, the artists engage and respond to different aspects of world history, African-American culture, and the shared heritage of the African diaspora, the displacement of an ancestral land. There are also visual responses to today’s experiences, which are expressed through empowering social commentary.

The exhibit will be accompanied by a full-color catalog, available for purchase from the DAI’s museum shop, and the winner of the Best in Show exhibit will have the opportunity to be featured in a Focus 2023 exhibit at Dayton Art Institute.

“It’s exciting to bring this unique exhibit to the Dayton Art Institute and showcase established and emerging African-American artists,” said DAI Director and CEO Michael R. Roediger. “This exhibition is a DAI exclusive, so it’s the only opportunity to see this incredibly diverse body of work. We encourage the whole community to support the exhibition and these artists!

Several related educational programs and resources will be offered in conjunction with Black Heritage Through Visual Rhythms. These include:

  • Zoom Curatorial Conversations Conference: March 24
  • In-person curatorial conversations at the museum: May 7
  • Interactive virtual community tours on Zoom:
    March 5, 19 & 31
    April 16 & 28
    May 14, 19 & 21
    Additional sessions available upon request; contact [email protected] for more information
  • Panel discussion with members of the African American Visual Artists Guild: April 22
  • ARTventures at Home: Families can download an interactive art-making guide to create an artwork inspired by the exhibit.
  • At-Home Portrait Collage: Downloadable instructions for designing an exhibition-inspired portrait collage.

For more information on Black Heritage Through Visual Rhythms and its associated programs, visit

The exhibit is made possible in part through the generous support of benefactor Sponsor AES Ohio Foundation; Supporting Sponsors Norman and Mary Rita Weissman; Supporting Media Sponsor ThinkTV PBS; Community Partners John and Hester Moore General Purpose Fund of the African-American Community Fund, The Dayton Foundation, Infinite Management Solutions, Bob Ross Auto Group and the Norma J. Ross Memorial Foundation; with additional support from the Dayton Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and the University of Dayton.

Admission to Black Heritage Through Visual Rhythms is included in the museum’s general admission, which includes access to all thematic and special exhibitions currently running, as well as the galleries of the museum’s collections. General admission is $15 adults; $10 seniors (60+), active military and groups (10 or more); $5 students (18+ with ID) and youth (7-17); and free for children (6 and under). Admission is free for museum members. Membership information can be found online at

Other current and upcoming Focus exhibitions at the museum include Fired Imagination: Ancient Chinese Ceramics from the Nancy and Ed Rosenthal Family Collection, currently on view until July 24, Beyond the Woodblock, currently on view until on March 6, and Van Gogh & European Landscapes, on view from March 5 to September 4.

As they are works by working artists, many Black Heritage Through Visual Rhythms items are available to collectors through the African American Visual Artists Guild. Information will be available at the DAI Guest Services desk or by contacting Andrea Cummings with AAVAG at [email protected] The DAI does not participate in or benefit from the sale of exhibited works of art; individual artists benefit.

For more information on scheduling a visit, including current museum hours, updates, and COVID-19 safety protocols, go to or call 937-223-4ART (4278). Connect with the Dayton Art Institute on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest for more information, behind-the-scenes photos and videos and exclusive offers.


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