Art display coming to Pickard Hall for Black History Month

A collection of pieces will be displayed in Pickard Hall in honor of Black History Month and those who contributed to the arts.

A new exhibit at MU exalts a flavor that aims to satisfy the taste buds of art lovers who crave diversity in the galleries on campus.

"Black Women in Art and the Stories They Tell" debuted at the Museum of Art and Archaeology on Thursday. This exhibit’s opening is not only timely, as February is Black History Month, but it is also one of many new exhibits arriving this spring.

Alex O’Brien, co-president of the Museum Advisory Council of Students, said the exhibit will go a long way in diversifying art galleries in Columbia.

“The art galleries here are white-men-oriented, which means that many of the art works that I’ve seen are done by white people ... which makes the diversity on display so refreshing,” O’Brien said. “These pieces highlight the creativity and uniqueness of blacks, particularly the portraits of slaves show a different side of a culture that has been often caricatured.”

The broad range of pieces displayed include the statue from Beulah Ecton Woodard, Charles White’s painting, “Birth of Spring” and photographs.

When selecting pieces for the gallery, Curator Mary Pixley said she and her colleagues looked for pieces that would speak to every type of student on campus and those that followed the theme of storytelling.

“I looked for pieces that created further ways to open discussion for those that are familiar with certain types of art or art in particular,” Pixley said. “We looked for pieces that would be great for programming for Black History Month and could help the culture grow because I feel that art is like food, as there is something for everyone to like.”

A majority of the pieces were borrowed from Chancellor Brady Deaton and his wife Anne. The reason cited was a lack of pieces focused on black women and their culture, Pixley said.

The exhibit’s theme of black women in arts showcases the appropriate images of black women in certain states of being, from an introspective stance in the three-fourth profile painting of “Harlem Girl” by Fritz Winold Reiss to the full-bodied image of “Tillie” by Aimee Schweig.

Pixley also said through telling stories the art provided a voice to others who couldn't speak, while simultaneously showcasing issues regarding black history, along with bringing cultures together.

“The stories will provide a voice for the disenfranchised, those in the prime of their life and those who are proud of their African heritage through the images shown,” Pixley said. “This gallery was about bringing other cultures together, which meant getting pieces done by artists who were not black. That was done on purpose in order to show that this exhibition is for all types of cultures.”

Sophomore Ashleigh Johnson said this exhibit is a good display of a more positive depiction of black people, not only because it reminds her of inspirational women in her life, but it also exhibits positivity amid the constant display of negativity the culture receives in different avenues on a regular basis.

“Our history is so dark, so it’s refreshing to see a rarity of happiness or a more uplifting side of our culture," Johnson said. "It is good because it reminds me of home and something that I can relate to. These pieces tell us more of who we are, which is important because we need an understanding of who we are and where we’ve been.”

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