Saturday, April 23, 2011

...and more at the NOAAM

I read about Margaret Taylor-Burroughs (1917-2011) and knew of her activities geared toward developing art and art venues for African-American artists. Through her writings, she kept promoting her cause and her dedication came to fruition with the opening of the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago.

She, herself, was an artist and it is very appropriate to have her works displayed at the New Orleans African American Museum. Recently, I visited the exhibition composed of linoleum cuts, woodcuts and a few paintings.

The (mainly) portraits are describing subjects with empty, frozen expressions lacking spontaneity. The artist studied the muscles generating these expressions, outlining them with simple, stylistic lines rendering them emotionless. No joy exudes from these works. Even the young subjects playing hop scotch are "behaving". It becomes an imaginary world in which children are wearing bows on their heads, are never dirty and can stay motionless. It reminds me of the illustrations from my childhood books written as teaching tools.

Her intend was to liberate, to express her cultural identity. She stayed mute and conformist, afraid of "letting it go" in her works. It did not materialize in her art, but as a woman of African-American descent, she was a pioneer.

The museum is bringing interesting artists and Eugene Martin's works are displayed in the hall of the main building as reported in a previous blog. Paintings from local schoolchildren occupy an annex. They are worth a thousand words.

no photographs were allowed

photograph of the courtyard, NOAAM, by the author

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