Witness: Black Artists in Texas, Then and Now

Saturday, October 14, 2023 10:00 AM - Saturday, February 3, 2024 5:00 PM
The Grace Museum
102 Cypress Street Abilene, TX 79601

The Grace Museum presents art exhibitions curated to celebrate the significant contributions of Black artists in Texas, both past and present. The creative process of sharing personal experiences through the visual arts is a testament to the importance of documenting our cultural stories; marking the moment as witness. Each artist in this exhibition brings something authentic, unique, and valuable to the nascent conversation about race and culture. This long-overdue focus on important Texas-based Black artists provides a platform to create awareness of the many contributions Black artists have made to American art history.

“My immediate passion is to draw, paint, and sculpt. I am not interested in trends: to me art is the expression of one’s soul and human spirit.”
– John Biggers

Delita Martin, Walk With Me, 2016, gelatin printing, conte, acrylic, hand-stiching fabric, Private Collection

Many of the artists in this exhibition were students or proteges of John Biggers (1924-2001) who, working in still-segregated Texas, inspired and mentored a new generation of Black artists to look within and next door to celebrate their communities and culture. Through collaborations with poets such as Maya Angelou, national exposure, internationally-lauded exhibitions, mentoring and teaching at Texas Southern University, and travel to Africa, Biggers’ work inspired a new generation of accomplished Black artists included in this exhibition.

The eighteen talented artists in this group exhibition include John Biggers, Charles Criner, Geraldine Crossland, Spencer Evans, Johnny Floyd, Karl E. Hall, Riley Holloway, Letitia Huckaby, Sedrick Huckaby, Harvey Johnson, Earl S. Jones, Earlie Hudnall, Jr., Bert Long, Jr., Delita Martin, Kermit Oliver, Elizabeth Montgomery Shelton, Carroll Harris Simms, and Roy Vinson Thomas. Each artist creates personal dialogues that reject previous racial stereotypes and bare witness to the transformative power of art to create a personal and authentic record of Black culture.

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