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Dec 7, 2020

HMA to Present Exhibit of Works by African-American Artists

Contact: (304) 529-2701

Works by African-American Artists from the HMA Collection will be on view at the Huntington Museum of Art from Dec. 19, 2020, through April 4, 2021.

“One of the fascinating aspects of this exhibit is it includes works by nationally known artists and well as works by some very talented local and regional artists,” said HMA Senior Curator Chris Hatten. “It has been my pleasure to see some great works added to HMA’s Collection of African-American Art during my years as the Senior Curator here.”

Over the past several decades, the Huntington Museum of Art has been building a distinguished collection of work by African-American artists. Included in the group is a painting by the most celebrated African-American artist of the 19th century, Henry Ossawa Tanner, an internationally successful painter and teacher.  Perhaps the most widely known work by an African-American artist in the HMA collection is by one of Tanner’s students, William Edouard Scott.  His painting Lead Kindly Light appeared in 1918 on the cover of The Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP that was edited by well-known African-American intellectual W.E.B. DuBois. It has been featured in exhibitions at major institutions and was recently highlighted in the PBS documentary Reconstruction: America After the Civil War. Another early 20th century work is a watercolor by Richard Lonsdale Brown, a talented West Virginia artist whose work was also featured on the cover of The Crisis. Prints by 20th century master Romare Bearden will also be included. 

Many of the works in the collection have been acquired to commemorate the participation of artists as guest instructors in the museum’s Walter Gropius Master Artist Workshop program. Thom Shaw, E.B. Lewis, Nanette Carter, Willie Cole and Donald Earley have all led workshops, as have Joyce Scott and Carrie Mae Weems, both of whom have been honored with MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Awards. 

Several artists with local ties will be featured in the show, including quilt artists and Huntington natives Tina Williams Brewer and Theresa Polley-Shellcroft, both former Gropius Workshop leaders, poet/artist Elaine Blue, and former Huntington barber Billy Scott. Works by prominent self-taught artists will also be on view, including selections by William Hawkins, Clementine Hunter and Dilmus Hall. 

Presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

For more information on events at HMA, visit or call (304) 529-2701. HMA is fully accessible.

West Virginia residents may obtain a summary of the registration and financial documents from the Secretary of State, State Capitol, Charleston, WV 25305. Registration does not imply endorsement.