Written by Aaliyah Butler
WASHINGTON - Howard University Gallery of Art currently has seven works of art on display in the “Afro-American Images 1971: The Vision of Percy Ricks” exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum. The exhibit opens October 23 with free admission.
“Afro-American Images 1971: The Vision of Percy Ricks” honors the 50th anniversary of a groundbreaking exhibition of Black art. Presented by the Delaware Art Museum and Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc., the show will be accompanied by rich programming celebrating African American culture. The show is accompanied by robust programming, including performances, gallery talks and a family day.
“The Delaware Art Museum’s resurrection of this historic exhibit of African-American art brings much-needed attention to lesser-known artists who, despite their career success, have remained largely unsung,” said Lisa Farrington, Ph.D., associate dean of Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts and director of the Gallery of Art. “We are proud to have had Howard’s own professor of art history, Melanee Harvey, Ph.D., contribute an essay to the exhibition catalog, and Howard student, Ellington (Ellie) Lindsey (HU ’22), conduct curatorial research at the Delaware Art Museum as part of this special collaboration.”
The exhibition celebrates the legacy of Wilmington artist, educator and Howard alumna, Percy Ricks. Ricks founded the Wilmington-based artist collective Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc. and mounted “Afro-American Images 1971” to emphasize the influence of African-American artists in Wilmington.
“In curating “Afro-American Images 1971,” Percy Ricks created an iconic exhibition that showcased a rich network of artists,” said Margaret Winslow, curator of contemporary art at the Delaware Art Museum.“Howard University, Ricks’ Alma Mater, was an important cultural nexus at the heart of this network. We are deeply grateful to the University for contributing major loans of art and for the work of Howard faculty, staff and students, especially Dr. Lisa E. Farrington, Scott W. Baker, Dr. Abby R. Eron, Dr. Melanee C. Harvey, and Ellington Lindsey, on the restaging of this historic exhibit.”
Visitors will view a restaging of the historic exhibition “Afro-American Images 1971.” The exhibition will include most of the artists who participated in the 1971 show, many known locally – Humbert Howard, Simmie Knox, Edward Loper Sr. and Edward Loper Jr. – as well as those recognized nationally, including Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Loïs Mailou Jones, Faith Ringgold, Alma Thomas and Hale Woodruff. By rehanging the show as accurately as possible, the partnering organizations hope to examine the exhibition’s role in the Black arts movement as well as question why this seemingly successful event was largely neglected by historians in the decades that followed.
Melanie Harvey, Ph.D., assistant professor and coordinator of art history at Howard University, published an essay in the gallery catalogue entitled, “Afro-American Images 1971: The Vision of Percy Ricks.” To pre-order the catalogue, please visit delart.org.
Image: Raymond Saunders, “Mother and Child,” 1961, acrylic on canvas, purchased through Museum Donor Program