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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Month: February 2019

Black History Month

In celebration of Black History Month, the Museum is featuring the following works that highlight African-American culture and history from its permanent collection. To browse the permanent collection, click here.

Works

Back Home from Up the Country (detail), 1969

Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988)
Durr Fillauer Gallery

Back Home from Up the Country and In the Garden both relate to a larger thematic grouping of work, The Prevalence of Ritual, which was also the title of an important exhibition of Bearden’s art held at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1971. The series references Bearden’s memories of his youth, including many works that refer to his childhood home in rural Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Both demonstrate his characteristic manner of working in collage to create flat, abstract designs that reference recognizable imagery such as the objects and human figures in both works.

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In the Garden (detail), 1974

Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988)
Durr Fillauer Gallery

Back Home from Up the Country and In the Garden both relate to a larger thematic grouping of work, The Prevalence of Ritual, which was also the title of an important exhibition of Bearden’s art held at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1971. The series references Bearden’s memories of his youth, including many works that refer to his childhood home in rural Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Both demonstrate his characteristic manner of working in collage to create flat, abstract designs that reference recognizable imagery such as the objects and human figures in both works.

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The Donkey Cart (detail), n.d.

Clementine Hunter (American, ca. 1886/87–1988)
Blount Galleries

Clementine Hunter was born in the Cane River district of Louisiana and worked for most of her life as a farm hand. Largely without a formal education, she spent her later years working at Melrose Plantation and began to paint by using materials left behind by a visiting artist. Her subjects are typically scenes of rural and agricultural life during the early 20th century, and they form a record of the daily life and activities of that era. The Donkey Cart is an example of her work in this genre, showing a simply composed scene of a field worker transporting cotton in a small wagon.

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Hiawatha’s Marriage (detail)

1868 Edmonia Lewis (American, 1844–1907)
Hudson Gallery

Edmonia Lewis was born to an African American father and a Native American mother of the Chippewa tribe in New York. In 1859 she enrolled at Oberlin College to study art and sculpture. She studied with sculptor Edward Brackett, who encouraged her to continue her training in Europe. Lewis produced several sculptural subjects related to her heritage inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 popular poem, “The Song of Hiawatha.” This piece depicts the Ojibwa warrior Hiawatha wedding a daughter of the Dacotah tribe, Minnehaha, to seal a peace between those two nations.

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Self-Portrait: When the Left Side of the Brain Meets the Right Side of the Brain (detail), ca. 2006

Charlie Lucas (American, born 1951)
Rotunda

Artist Charlie Lucas originally worked in construction, but after a back injury, he started painting and sculpting as part of his recuperation. Lucas creates sculptures made out of welded metal found objects and scraps. He has had no formal training as an artist; instead, as a child, he learned crafts by watching relatives and tries to keep aspects of these traditions alive in his work. He currently lives in Selma, Alabama, and he has a dream of an interactive theme park where children could play among various kinds of art and could create art with their parents.

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Pig Pen Variation (detail), 1986

Mary Maxtion (American, 1924–2015)
Newman Gallery

Mary Maxtion of Boligee, Alabama, was one of the state’s most prolific and skillful quilt makers in the 20th century. Her multi-colored Pig Pen Variation is a version of a popular pattern also known as a House Top. In the pig pen pattern, a medallion of fabric is centered in rows of fabric extending vertically and horizontally, creating brilliant squares that seem to recede into space. Maxtion varied the colors of the strips to enhance that visual illusion by alternating colors that are warm (like red) with others that are cool (like blue).

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The Sweat of the Mule and the Sharecropper, n.d.

Joe Minter (American, born 1943)
Caddell Sculpture Garden

Sculptor Joe Minter is from Birmingham, Alabama, and creates his works primarily from discarded, rusted metal. Many of the materials Minter uses speak to his African American family’s roots and the obsolescence of old technology—a visual link to enslavement, for example in his use of plow points and rakes. The plow points and the worn metal shoes from a mule’s hooves hang from chains that allude to forced labor in times of slavery and later in the practices of sharecropping, as well as the “chain gangs” that were a practice in the penal system.

 


 

Untitled (detail), 1999

Clifton Pearson (American, born 1948)
Richard Gallery

Clifton Pearson is an Alabama artist living near Huntsville. His glazed stoneware objects are stylized figures that combine his imagination with reality. This chieftain leader from the Celebrated Figures series exemplifies Pearson’s approach of creating majestic figures from slabs of clay that embody dignity while reflecting various cultures, including African and Native American. Pearson hand-works each piece, highlighting rich textures and ornate headdresses, letting the personality and humanity of each figure evolve through the process.

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Rosa Parks I (detail), 2005

Yvonne Wells (American, born 1939)
Blount Galleries

Yvonne Wells is best known for her “narrative” quilts in which she uses the appliqué of hand- shaped fabric pieces sewn to a larger top to tell a story within her design. This image of Montgomery’s Rosa Parks, a pioneer within the Civil Rights Movement, includes references to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, segregated public facilities, and the struggle of Black Americans to guarantee their right to vote.

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Related Programs

Weekend Tours

Free docent-led tours are offered at 1 PM on Sunday, February 3 and Saturday, February 16. These tours are free and open to the public. No reservation required.

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