The Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, announces the acquisition of art by Tyrone Geter, Charles Ethan Porter, and Joseph Norman, three prominent African-American artists all new to the collection. Porter’s 19th-century still life, Norman’s contemporary lithographs, and Geter’s recent large-scale drawing collectively help tell the story of African Americans in South Carolina and in American history. For over four decades, the CMA has been committed to exhibiting African-American art and cultural heritage. The museum’s collection includes work by more than 30 African-American artists, including Romare Bearden, John Biggers, Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, William H. Johnson, Betye Saar, SC artist Leo Twiggs, Carrie Mae Weems, and others.
Tyrone Geter’s “I Don Old, I Don Tire But I Ain’t Done Yet”, a gift made possible by Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin J. Gimarc, is a powerful charcoal drawing. Geter, who has worked and exhibited across the United States as well as in Nigeria, is a teacher of drawing and painting and manager of The Ponder Fine Arts Gallery at Benedict College in Columbia, SC. The charcoal drawing is from Geter’s series “Ain’t I a Woman” that examines the role of African-American women in culture and community, and is inspired by Geter’s own mother. He writes of the piece, “My mother once told me ‘sometimes she felt like she didn’t have no life.’ That statement made with so much honesty, conviction, and passion yet free of even a hint of self-pity has throughout my career been one of the guiding principles of not only how I live my life, and relate to other people, but has also profoundly influenced the philosophy of my art.”
The striking oil painting, “Roses in a Green Vase” (c.1885-90) by Charles Ethan Porter (American, c.1847-1923), a museum purchase, is a treasure by a rediscovered master. Porter, the son of a poor laborer, was one of the first African-American artists to study at the National Academy of Design in New York, and later studied in Paris. “The acquisition of this lovely painting by the Columbia Museum of Art allows us to more fully show how African-American art has always been a part of American cultural life,” says Chief Curator Will South. Though Porter faced difficulties throughout his life, compounded by racism in the art world and society at large, his mastery and contributions to American art ensure that his name belongs in the canon of great American painters.
Two sets of lithographs by Joseph Norman are gifts from collectors Kerry and Betty Davis of Georgia and Donnell and Dorothea Walker of Pennsylvania through the efforts of CMA board member D. Delores Logan, who also serves on the board of the CMA as well as its membership affiliate group Friends of African-American Art and Culture (FAAAC). Norman is a professor of drawing and painting at the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens, GA. To celebrate this donation, the CMA has placed “The Art of Joseph Norman” on view through Feb. 7, 2016, in Gallery 15. These works include the complete series “Out at Home: The Negro Baseball League, Volume 1”, and “Patti’s Little White Lies”. “Out at Home”, a set of nine lithographs, explores the great accomplishments of African-American baseball greats like Jackie Robinson and Josh Gibson while also confronting the racist system in which these athletes worked and struggled. The five lithographs in “Patti’s Little White Lies” comprise a deeply personal series, using art to deal with guilt and shame related to Norman’s own experiences of being falsely accused of a crime. Both series are challenging and reflective, yet also starkly beautiful.
“We have been committed and passionate about building our collection of art by African Americans,” says CMA Executive Director Karen Brosius. “We have a collection that tells the story of everyone in our community, and these new additions contribute an invaluable and impactful piece of that story. We look forward to fostering even more engagement with our audiences with these new works through a diversity of programming and exhibitions for years to come.”
For further information call the Museum at 803/799-2810 or visit (www.columbiamuseum.org).