National Arts and Humanities Month is a time to reflect on the significant role the arts play in human expression that addresses trauma, connects cultures, reveals inequities and engages our communities — making them healthier and stronger. Art matters, and more specifically, Black art matters.
A newly opened exhibition at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture offers the opportunity to uplift and share the history of Black people, and the Black experience, through art and culture. It tells the historic stories of American lives through Black artists’ visions and personal experiences — displaying what could have been forgotten representation of the way the world was. It’s a collection of images, paintings and drawings that depict African Americans in full bloom, not stunted by social and political obstacles during the time in which they were created, but enduring despite those obstacles.
The Vision & Spirit collection, owned by Bank of America and curated in partnership with the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture, includes more than 100 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and mixed media works by 48 artists born in the 19th and 20th centuries. From the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the Civil Rights movement, these artists’ resilience lives on through their works — where their stories tell a tale of strength, spirit, humanity and passion — not surrender.
It features talents such as artist Lorna Simpson, whose work challenges conventional views of identity, history and memory using the African American woman as a visual point of departure; and Dewey Crumpler, whose examinations of the lure of contemporary pop culture in his mixed-media works explore global consumer capitalism. It includes a variety of genres from masters such as photographer Henry Clay Anderson and contemporary artist Chelle Barbour, each of whom have inspired others to push boundaries and develop new ideas.
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum brings Black history, culture and art to the forefront, enabling them to enrich our community. This exhibition gives the people of Baltimore and the larger community the opportunity to go on a journey of reflection, inspiration, understanding and discovery through the Vision & and Spirit collection.
Janet Currie, Baltimore
Janet Currie is Greater Maryland president of Bank of America. She also is a member of The Baltimore Banner’s board of directors.
Bank of America has a long-term partnership with the Reginald F. Lewis Museum
The Vision & Spirit exhibition is on view through Jan. 15 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore.