Universities play critical role in preserving art, speaker says

The Creation, by Aaron Douglas
The Creation, by Aaron Douglas

By Chanel Watson

The Lincolnian

Historically black universities have had a critical role in developing African American art over the past century, this week’s convocation speaker told students Thursday.

Dr. Jacquelyn Serwer, chief curator of the Smithsonian’s National Museum for African American History and Culture, spoke on The Role of Universities as Stewards of Art and Material Culture–Telling the Story of the Social History of African Americans. Her talk was the Fall 2013 Lincoln-Barnes Lecture.

“We see our visual arts collections as a salute to these institutions,” Serwer said.

At the convocation, Serwer showed several pieces of art, including Henry Ossawa Tanner’s The Banjo Player and Aaron Douglas’s The Creation. They will be included in the new Smithsonian museum, which is scheduled to open in 2015. It will be the only national museum devoted to documenting African American life, history, art and culture.

The Banjo Player, by Henry Ossawa Tanner
The Banjo Player, by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Schools that have provided art for the museum include Hampton University, Howard University and Spelman University.

“This Lincoln-Barnes partnership encourages all students, faculty members, staff members and members of the community to cultivate a lifelong appreciation of art,” said Dr. Cheryl Gooch, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

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