Wednesday, October 4, 2023

New Colonial Williamsburg Art Exhibit Highlights The Work Of Black Artists

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WILLIAMSBURG-A new art exhibit that debuted at The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg on Saturday, October 22, is celebrating the talents of Black artists.

The exhibition “I made this….” The Work of Black American Artists and Artisans features roughly 30 pieces of art ranging from paintings and ceramics to quilts, furniture, and more.

Items on display in the Miodrag and Elizabeth Ridgely Blagojevich Gallery of the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum were created by Black artists from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Alongside each piece are background details of the makers and what inspired them.

The individuals became artists for a variety of reasons, whether it was to make a living or express themselves, but, no matter the reason, “each makes a statement with their work,” said Jan Gilliam, manager of exhibition planning at Colonial Williamsburg.

“All of the people we are celebrating come from the Black community,” she said. “It’s fascinating to see not only the works of the different centuries and what has changed, but also how each of these individuals expressed themselves.”

Among the artists whose pieces are on view are David Drake, Bill Traylor, Thornton Dial,Sr., Cesar Chelor, Clementine Hunter, and William Edmondson. Drake, an enslaved potter from the 19th century, inspired the title of the exhibition, as the words “I made this” were among those he often wrote on his pots.

“It seemed very relevant to use it as a title,” said Gilliam.

The new art exhibit will be on display though December 31, 2025. As part of the celebration of the opening of “I made this….,” Colonial Williamsburg will also offer special programming including discussions with curators and educators over the next few weeks. These “Expert Talks” will be held on Tuesdays at 10:30am October 25, November 1, November 8, and November 15.

In addition, there will be “Works by Black Artists and Artisans” tours on Wednesdays at 3pm October 26, November 2, November 9, and November 16. Colonial Williamsburg is also planning a conference centered on the exhibition in November 2023.

For more information, visit the Colonial Williamsburg art museum’s website.

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