St. Petersburg, Fla.—Mixing Metaphors: The Aesthetic, the Social and the Political in African American Art, Works from the Bank of America Collection, is truly a gift to the community. It is the largest exhibition of African American art ever presented at the MFA. More than 90 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and mixed-media works by 36 accomplished artists will be on view from Saturday, October 5, 2013-Sunday, January 5, 2014.
The works are provided by Bank of America’s Art in our Communities Program. MFA exhibitions are sponsored in part by The Stuart Society, and the Tampa Bay Times is the Media Sponsor.
“Communities express timeless and binding ideas through art,” said MFA Director Kent Lydecker. “This exhibition offers insights about our national experience and the world, seen through the lens of contemporary artists of great significance. We are honored to present this compelling exhibition, drawn from an extraordinary collection and curated by one of our country’s distinguished scholars, Dr. Deborah Willis.”
Some of America’s most talented artists are represented, including Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden, John Biggers, Sam Gilliam, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Martin Puryear, Faith Ringgold, Lorna Simpson, and Carrie Mae Weems. Dr. Willis will present the Wayne W. and Frances Knight Parrish Lecture, “Reading Art as a Metaphor,” at 3 p.m. Sunday, October 6.
“Bank of America knows that not only do the arts create economic value in communities, but they also foster great learning, great thinking and connect us through shared culture and heritage,” said Bill Goede, Tampa Bay Market President, Bank of America. “Through the Art in Our Communities program, we’re excited to bring the Mixing Metaphors exhibition to important cultural anchors like the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg.”
Most of the works tell fascinating stories, exploring history, memories, and life today. They are visual metaphors. Jacob Lawrence’s two exceptional prints convey the spirit of the exhibition. His sweeping Forward Together (1997) is a clarion call, encouraging us all to move ahead, while Aspirations (1986) focuses on family life.
Family is viewed by many of these artists as a bedrock and refuge. Lawrence Finney portrays monumental figures protecting their children, and Faith Ringgold’s large-scale story quilt, Coming to Jones Road #3: Aunt Emmy (1999), conveys the centrality of home and family. It also pays tribute to African American quilts, which, in turn, look back to Africa. So, too, do the shotgun houses and figures in John Biggers’ The Four Seasons (1990), inspired by Houston’s Third Ward. Visitors can go from the exhibition in the Hazel Hough Wing to the MFA’s renovated gallery devoted entirely to African art in the original building.
The church has been a major force in African American life, captured brilliantly in Benny Andrews’ Rehearsal (Music Series), 1997. Indeed, music has been and continues to be paramount, with African Americans giving the world some of our most unique art forms—spirituals, the blues, and jazz. Chuck Stewart’s photographs of jazz legends are high points. On the abstract side are Kevin Cole’s lively Jam Session No. 3 (1992) and his mentor Sam Gilliam’s beautifully lyrical Rational Element (1992).
Photographers and TV cameramen brought the Civil Rights Movement into our homes, mobilizing action and change. Memphis-based Ernest C. Withers was called “the official photographer of the Civil Rights Movement.” Six images from his famous I Am A Man portfolio document pivotal moments in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the struggle as a whole. They are especially moving as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream’” speech.
Strength and perseverance permeate Lorna Simpson’s photogravures of hands, Henry Clay Anderson’s and Dawoud Bey’s images of everyday life, and Gordon Parks’ powerful photograph of a young Muhammad Ali (1970), an American icon. And who can resist Jamel Shabazz’s and Earlie Hudnall Jr.’s photographs of early hip-hop culture?
Mixing Metaphors has punch, spirituality, humanity, visual music—and unforgettable art.
ABOUT DR. DEBORAH WILLIS, GUEST CURATOR AND PARRISH LECTURER
Dr. Willis, who will speak at 3 p.m. Sunday, October 6, is one of the nation’s leading scholars of African-American art and culture and is a talented photographer in her own right. She is Chair and Professor of Photography and Imaging at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. In 2000, she was named a MacArthur Fellow, a recipient of what is known as “the genius grant.” She has also been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fletcher Fellow.
Widely published, Dr. Willis is the co-author of Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs, which received the 2010 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Biography/Autobiography, and Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery. Other recent books are Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty, Black Venus 2010: They Called Her “Hottentot,” and Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present. Selected books are available in the Museum Store.
Dr. Willis has curated many exhibitions, including Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits, Imagining Families—Images and Voices and Reflections in Black, and Engulfed by Katrina: Photographs Before and After the Storm. Her photography has been shown across the country. She holds a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art, an MA from The City University of New York, an MFA from the Pratt Institute, and a PhD from George Mason University.
The Parrishes donated many of the Museum’s ancient American objects, which are displayed in a gallery named in their honor. Mr. Parrish was a successful publisher of aviation magazines, and Mrs. Parrish, a noted public servant, was Director of the U.S. Passport Office from 1955-1977.
MORE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
Support is provided in part by The Stuart Society, the MFA Education Committee, Westminster Communities of St. Petersburg, an anonymous donor, and the City of St. Petersburg.
Monday Art Bites, second Monday of the month, 1 p.m., FREE with MFA admission
Sample MFA treasures in these 30-minute talks. Then stay for the 2 p.m. docent tour to explore more of the collection. On your way out, visit the MFA Store for a FREE edible sample of Margaret Ann’s Gourmet Cookies. This bite-size snack is available for Art Bite guests only.
October 14: Director Kent Lydecker on a work from Mixing Metaphors.
November 11: Dr. Susan Cooksey, Curator of African Art at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, the University of Florida, on selections from the MFA’s African collection.
December 9: Bob Devin Jones, Artistic Director of the Studio@620, on art in Mixing Metaphors.
Coffee Talks with Nan Colton, second Wednesday of the month, FREE with MFA admission
Sponsored in part by Westminster Communities of St. Petersburg
The Museum’s performing artist-in-residence always plays to a full house. Enjoy refreshments at 10 a.m., Ms. Colton’s performance at 10:30, and a general docent tour at 11:15.
October 9: “Mixed Metaphors – Memories of Growing up in South Africa”
November 13: “Visually Exploring the Story – Jacob Lawrence and the Harriet Tubman Series”
MFA: Make and Take Saturday
Third Saturday of the month, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. For ages five and older.
FREE with MFA admission. No registration necessary.
Create your own masterpiece inspired by works in the collection and special exhibitions. Supplies are included. Both children and adults are welcome.
October 19: Quilt Squares—View Faith Ringgold’s story quilt, Coming to Jones Road #3: Aunt Emmy (1999), in Mixing Metaphors and then create your own square without using needle and thread.
November 16: Memorable Bowls—Be inspired by the masterful ceramics of Maria and Julian Martinez as you make your own pinch pot. In partnership with the Morean Arts Center for Clay.
December 21: Going Crafty with Collage—Mixed-media works and collages in the collection and special exhibitions will lead to your next masterpiece.
UNCHartED: Random Acts of Culture
Thursday evenings, wine/beer cash bar, delectable bites
Random Act 10.24.13, 6-8 p.m. YOLELE! Cooking Demonstration and Book-Signing by Pierre Thiam
Three courses and a souvenir recipe card of the dishes prepared.
$35 members, $45 nonmembers. Reservations required by Friday, October 18. Please call 727.896.2667,
ext. 210, for more details.
Chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author Pierre Thiam grew up in Dakar, Senegal, and moved to New York in the late 1980s. By 2001, he had opened his first restaurant, Yolele, a visionary African bistro in Brooklyn. His Le Grand-Dakar Restaurant opened just three years later in neighboring Clinton Hill. He currently owns Pierre Thiam Catering and serves as a consulting chef for restaurants in New York City and beyond. His cookbook, Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal, was a finalist for the Julia Child Cookbook Award and won the Gourmand World Cookbook’s Special Jury Award at the Paris World Cookbook Fair.
Mr. Thiam lectures and conducts cooking classes around the globe and has appeared on the Food Network, including Iron Chef; ABC’s Eyewitness News; and NBC’s TODAY Show. He has been profiled on CNN’s Inside Africa and interviewed on NPR’s Splendid Table.
ABOUT BANK OF AMERICA’S ART IN OUR COMMUNITIES PROGRAM
Bank of America launched the Art in our Communities program to share works from its distinguished collection with museums across the globe. The program allows museums and nonprofit galleries to borrow complete exhibitions at no cost. Art in our Communities is a collaborative effort that engages community partners and generates vital revenue for museums. Since the program’s launch in 2008, more than 50 museums worldwide have benefited from the loan of an exhibition.
ABOUT BANK OF AMERICA’S MUSEUMS ON US PROGRAM
On the first full weekend of the month throughout the year, bring your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch debit or credit card with a photo I.D. and receive one free admission to the MFA. Guests are not eligible. Museums on Us provides free admission to more than 150 art, science, and history museums, as well as other cultural institutions, across the country.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA
The MFA at 255 Beach Drive N.E. has a world-class collection, with works by Monet, Gauguin, Renoir, Morisot, Cézanne, Rodin, O’Keeffe, and many others. Also displayed are ancient Greek and Roman, Egyptian, Asian, African, pre-Columbian, and Native American art. The photography collection is one of the largest and most significant in the Southeast. The galleries, The Junior League Great Hall, and the Marly Room in the original building have just been renovated, completely transforming the experience of the art on view. The new MFA will be unveiled on Saturday, September 28, on Arts Alive Day, when the Museum is free for everyone.
The Museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, until 8 p.m. on Thursday, and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is only “5 after 5” on Thursday. Regular admission is $17 for adults, $15 for those 65 and older, and $10 for students seven and older, including college students with current I.D. Children under seven and Museum members are admitted free. Groups of 10 or more adults pay only $12 per person and children $4 each with prior reservations.
The MFA Café is open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. The Museum Store has been named the area’s best by the duPont Registry. For more information, please call 727.896.2667 or visit the website at www.fine-arts.org. For café reservations, please call 727.822.1032.
BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Bank of America’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a strategic part of doing business globally. Our CSR efforts guide how we operate in a socially, economically, financially, and environmentally responsible way around the world, to deliver for shareholders, customers, clients, and employees. Our goal is to help create economically vibrant regions and communities through lending, investing, and giving. By partnering with our stakeholders, we create value that empowers individuals and communities to thrive and contributes to the long-term success of our business. We have several core areas of focus for our CSR, including responsible business practices; environmental sustainability; strengthening local communities with a focus on housing, hunger, and jobs; investing in global leadership development; and engaging through arts and culture. As part of these efforts, employee volunteers across the company contribute their time, passion, and expertise to address issues in communities where they live and work. Learn more at www.bankofamerica.com/about and follow us on Twitter at @BofA_Community.