High Profile Show Brings African American Art to UMW

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Sophomore Lauryn Taylor sees herself a bit in a new exhibit at the University of Mary Washington Galleries.

“I haven’t seen a lot of artwork featuring someone who looks like me,” Taylor said of a piece featuring a fully fledged black woman in Healing by preserving our stories and ourselves, on view at the Ridderhof Martin and duPont galleries until March 24.

Taylor, an art and marketing studio, is among Mary Washington students who, along with faculty, staff and community members, helped select pieces for the galleries’ new high-profile exhibit. . The exhibition features a collection of works by renowned contemporary African-American artists – Faith Ringgold, Jacob Lawrence, Theaster Gates, Kara Walker, Sonya Clark and nearly two dozen others – on loan from the Petrucci Family Foundation (PFF) .

“We are so fortunate to be able to offer our students a curatorial experience like this,” said Department of Art and Art History Chair Jon McMillan, “and to bring works of art of such a high caliber to the community of Fredericksburg.” Many of the artists highlighted are internationally renowned, he said, with works in major museum collections and “top-notch” galleries.

Claudia Volpe, director of PFF, helped UMW curate the exhibit from the foundation’s extensive collection of African American art. “Now that we stand in the wake of all that has been dug up and uprooted over the past two years, we understand that historic preservation can also be a function of self-preservation,” Volpe said in a statement. hurry. “The call of this exhibition to contemplate our intertwined histories is an invitation to heal, both as individuals and communities.”

The show began to take shape a year ago, said visiting assistant professor Ashe Laughlin, who sits on the board of the Orange Center for the Arts, which exhibits many of PFF’s smaller works. Impressed, he realized that the UMW galleries could house an even larger exhibit, he said, including large-scale pieces.

Laughlin immediately brought Taylor and other black students from UMW’s studio art program to the table. One of the works they chose was that of Ronald Jackson She sang a song no one would hear. The oil painting of a thoughtful young woman whose face is covered with a polka dot mask became the centerpiece of the show.

“We all gravitated to him and then found out that Jackson lives here in the Fredericksburg area,” said Laughlin, who asked the painter’s opinion and invited him to attend the opening of the show last week.

Senior Jasmine Folson, who said she has rarely seen works depicting black people in art galleries, hopes the exhibit will spark meaningful dialogue about African American history and representation in the arts, and encourage young artists .

Among the exhibits, LaToya Hobbs’ Angelic — a woodblock print on paper of a woman fresh out of the shower, with her hair worn naturally — resonated with Folson the most, she said. “I loved it because it was like looking in a mirror.”

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