ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) — On their special tour featuring the Memories and Inspiration exhibit, Atlanta natives Kerry and C. Betty Davis chose Albany State University (ASU) as their only stop in Georgia .
The couple started collecting art around 35 years ago and have selected 67 images that focus specifically on the black image.
Charles Williams, the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, tells me that it features artwork ranging from the 1930s to contemporary Georgia artists. The exhibit, which is housed in the school’s fine arts center, even features works by one of ASU’s own.
“They actually called me to get in touch with Arthur Berry’s family to see if they could use any of his images in their catalog,” Williams said. “And when I found out Arthur Berry was on the show, I thought it would be a really good idea to have him here.”
Berry founded the university’s art department and served as its chairman for 21 years.
Dr. Ansley Simmons is an assistant professor of visual arts at ASU. She says it’s an honor to have great art presented at a university like this.
“Not only is it one of the best private collections of African American art in the world,” Simmons said. “You would have to go to Chicago or New York to see works of this caliber. What’s really wonderful is that it’s work that comes from home.
She adds that there is something for everyone in this exhibition.
“It’s wonderful to come in and see for yourself, but it’s even more impactful if you have someone you can talk to about the artwork,” she said. “And there’s a lot of things that are referenced in those works, from joyous times to even things like the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963.”
Simmons also says she hopes this new exhibit will inspire ASU students to create. She notes that this location was chosen for a reason.
“The Davises were able to come from Atlanta for our opening show,” she said. “What they said was that this is exactly the type of place where we wanted our works to be seen. Because they know what an impact it can have to see people who look like you on the walls and artwork created by someone you can relate to.
She says many students have already visited the exhibition and she hopes it will inspire more students to want to create.
“We have already had many students, around 25 to 30, who have passed through this space in just a few days. And everybody had kind of an impactful experience,” Simmons said. “They even stopped our associate dean on campus to say ‘thank you’. Not only for bringing the art exhibit here, but for taking the time to really talk about the artwork.
She says this exhibit features more than art.
“When I look around this exhibition and see different works there, I don’t just see a painting or an abstract work. I also see things like social justice and so they know that can have a really big impact,” she said.
Simmons hopes ASU students will be inspired to do something else.
“For everyone to come and find their favorite piece of art, then bring a friend and tell them about it,” she said. “Because it should be seen as a set of works for a community. So being able to bring in your own community, whether it’s someone from the church or someone from your family or even your child.
The exhibit will be at Albany State through August 26 and is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also make an appointment by e-mail. [email protected].
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