In 1971, an exhibition took place at The Armory in Wilmington called Afro-American Images, featuring 130 works of art in various media by 66 Black artists, exploring the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s and 1970s.
From Oct. 23, 2021 through Jan. 23, 2022, the same exhibit, restaged, will be on display at the Delaware Art Museum, thanks to a National Endowment for the Arts Art Works award of $25,000 for the project.
When the exhibit originally displayed in 1971, featuring artists including James A. Porter, Percy Ricks, Faith Ringgold and the collective Aesthetic Dynamics, Wilmington’s impact in the Black Arts Movement was on full display. Over the years, that impact has become a largely forgotten piece of Delaware history.
“Through this restaging, we are combatting historical amnesia and doing everything that we can to ensure that the archival record is as complete as possible,” said Margaret Winslow, the museum’s Curator of Contemporary Art, in a statement:
“With the 2021 presentation of Afro-American Images, we have a remarkable opportunity to look back at how Wilmington played a role in the Black Arts Movement. What were the reasons for Ricks’ exhibition then and what stories does it tell today? Why was the Delaware Art Museum not an active partner with Aesthetic Dynamics in 1971? Today, the Delaware Art Museum seeks to bring art into the lives of the community in ways that support myriad interests and involves authentic civic engagement. Restaging the original exhibition, 50 years later, addresses numerous historic gaps such as the biased archival record and lack of local institutional support. By collaborating with Aesthetic Dynamics members 50 years later the Delaware Art Museum is afforded the opportunity to investigate its engagement with the Black community. As we certainly see in the Museum’s own renewed focus on acquiring work specifically of women and artists of color, this is still such an important aspect of the curatorial work that we do at this museum.”
As with the museum’s 50-year retrospective Wilmington 1968 in 2018, which focused on the riots of ’68 and the National Guard occupation of the city, Afro-American Images will include oral histories from community members. If you have memories/knowledge of the original 1971 exhibition, the Black Arts Movement, or Wilmington’s artistic history, you are encouraged to contact Winslow at firstname.lastname@example.org or 302-351-8539.-30-
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