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Black Artists on Art: Past Present, and Future

Lee McCormick aka Leecaso, First Teacher: Dr. Samella Lewis, 2022. Acrylic.

The Crocker Art Museum is pleased to announce the opening of Black Artists on Art: Past, Present, and Future, on view from August 11 – October 23, 2022. This group exhibition showcases work by legendary artists Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden, Dumile Feni, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Samella Lewis, Ruth Waddy, and Charles White; as well as contemporary artists EMONI, Alpha Bruton, Beth Cosetta Rubel, Joha Harrison, Dwight Head, Laurelin Gilmore, Claude Lewis, Keia Kodama, Lee McCormick, Shonna McDaniels, and more. 

"That's community," Unity Lewis, the exhibition's co-creator, explains. "When we bring an artist into the show, we bring them into the family. We're all here to help each other grow, whether that's an artist at the height of their career or an artist just starting out. In presenting our work together, we're having a dialogue. We learn from, enrich, and educate each other and offer the same to the community that experiences the exhibition." 

The exhibition is the ninth unique iteration of a series that shares the title of the historic "Black Artists on Art" book. Initially published in 1969 by Dr. Samella Lewis and Ruth G. Waddy, "Black Artists on Art" brought attention to the many notable Black artists who were neglected or overlooked by the mainstream art world. More than 50 years later, the "Black Artists on Art" book series is foundational to the arts community, acting as a record of the collaborative effort of Black artists throughout the country to unite and discuss their work.

Dr. Lewis' grandson, Unity Lewis, initiated the eponymous exhibition series to continue building community among Black artists, and each exhibition features a unique presentation. The presentation of Black Artists on Art at the Crocker is the first to take place after Dr. Lewis' passing on May 22, 2022 at the age of 99, and it is unique in its pairing of well-known legends with contemporary and youth artists.

Lewis hopes these exhibitions honor his grandmother's legacy and continue to raise the profile of Black artists, keeping the spirit of her work alive: "My grandmother gave me the history and the resources I need to accurately represent the work and curate these shows. I'm looking forward to presenting this to the Sacramento region. It's important that the Crocker is helping us put this exhibition together and acknowledging the value these artists have to the art world."