College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Black Art Matters Exhibit



During the last decade, racial tensions in America have increased and become a major obstacle for healing and growth.  Too many times, the reports of the loss of African Americans lives have fueled the formation of social justice programs such as Black Lives Matter.  These movements have raised awareness of racial equality and equity while highlighting the deaths of African Americans such as: 

Breonna Taylor, 2020, Louisville, Kentucky
George Floyd, 2020, Minneapolis Minnesota
Rayshard Brooks, 2020, Atlanta Georgia
Daniel Prude, 2020, Rochester, New York
Philando Castille, 2016, Falcon Heights, Minnesota
Freddie Gray, 2015, Baltimore, Maryland
Eric Garner, 2014, Staten Island, New York
Aura Rosser, 2014, Ann Arbor, Michigan 

By raising awareness of race relations in America, the opportunity for healing and acceptance can begin by addressing the historical narrative of racism in this country.   The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, founded in 1909 as the nation’s oldest civil rights organization in the country, dedicated itself to the struggle for equality in America. 

In 1926, W.E.B. DuBois addressed a meeting in Chicago when he asked NAACP members, “How is it that an organization of this kind can turn aside to talk about art?”  DuBois pushed the NAACP to continue the political courtroom battles but also support creative writing, plays, artwork and exhibitions.  The NAACP worked to alter existing prejudices through the production of art that celebrated the talents of Black artists.   The NAACP’s activism navigated the cultural realm by openly supporting artists, writers and musicians of African descent.  The goal was to change the way the public viewed the Black community through cultural acceptance. 

Almost a century later, the University Galleries now accept this charge of cultural equality through the virtual exhibition, Black Art Matters:  Works From the Permanent Collection.  Comprising art spanning the 1930s to the early 2000s, this exhibition highlights the beauty and significance of works by artists of the African Diaspora.  Black Art Matters displays the diversity of emotions and techniques translated through art.  The exhibition includes portraits, landscapes, abstracts and figural works that celebrate the vastness in subject and medium in Black art.


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