Spelman College (Celebrating Black Women in Art) Newsletter

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Celebrating Black Women

Johnnetta Betsch Cole, President Emerita, Spelman College

In 1987, Johnnetta Betsch Cole, became the seventh president of Spelman College and the first Black woman to lead the college founded specifically for educating women of African descent. Committed to making Spelman College a center for scholarship about African American women, Cole was a strong advocate for the liberal arts. During her time at Spelman, Cole held an integral role in garnering funding for founding the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, the only museum in the nation dedicated to art by and about women of the African diaspora and Africa.

In celebration of Black Women in the visual arts, Miami MoCAAD invites you to explore selected artists and exhibits presented by the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art.

Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness Premiere, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art (2018)

The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art opened its doors in 1996 to complement the Spelman College community of women, showcasing artwork by students and Black women across the African Diaspora and the mother continent, Africa. The Spelman College Museum has presented over 80 pioneering exhibitions highlighting art made by Black female artists. The museum advances interdisciplinary visual arts education in collaboration with departments across disciplines, including Art & Visual Culture, Anthropology and Sociology, the African Diaspora and the World Program, and Women’s Studies.

Calida Rawles, Thy Name We Praise, 2023.

Twenty-five years after graduating from Spelman College, Calida Rawles (1976- ) returned to her alma mater to ignite a new generation of artists with a new work, Thy Name We Praise, in the exhibition, Black American Portraits, on view through June 30, 2023. For more about the exhibit, visit miamimocaad.org, Art Near + Far,

Mildred Thompson, Magnetic Fields, 1991, Courtesy the Estate of Mildred Thompson and Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

Mildred Thompson (1936 - 2003.) was an American artist who spent her early career in Germany and France because of the racial and gender discrimination she experienced in the United States. She returned in 1986 for an artist residency at Spelman College. The exhibition compiled works from when she lived in Atlanta, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, writings, and musical explorations. Mildred Thompson: The Atlanta Years, 1986 – 2003 (September 11 -December 7, 2019), an original exhibition organized by the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art and curated by Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, former Director of Spelman College Museum, and Melissa Messina, Curator of the Mildred Thompson Estate.

Click here to listen to an interview about the exhibit

Maren Hassinger, Wrenching News (detail), 2008

Maren Hassinger (1947- ) is an American artist and educator whose career spans four decades. She uses sculpture, film, dance, performance, and public art to explore our relationship to nature, movement, transformation, and industrial materials. Her artistic process uses everyday materials like plastic bags, dirt, leaves, and newspaper.

The exhibit Maren Hassinger . . . Dreaming (February 12 - May 16, 2015), curated by Andrea Barnwell Brownlee and Anne Collins Smith, brought together a substantial body of Hassinger’s work, created from 1986

through 2015.

Deborah Willis is a contemporary American artist, photographer, curator of photography, historian, author, and educator. She curated "Posing Beauty in African American Culture," a nationally touring exhibition at the Spelman's College Museum of Fine Art. She has also served as a guest lecturer in the Spelman College Ida B. Wells-Barnett Distinguished Lecture Series on Reframing "Black is Beautiful."

Amy Sherald, Miss Everything (Unsurpassed Deliverance)

Amy Sherald (1973-) is an American portraitist whose ties to Spelman College started early in her career. She interned for Dr. Arturo Lindsay, Professor of Art and Art History at Spelman College, where she also participated in Spelman’s International Artist-in-Residence program. Sherald’s vivid colors contrast with gray skin tones, portraying simplicity in everyday Black life. Her White House portrait of former first lady Michelle Obama propelled her art career to international prominence. The Spelman College Museum presented her solo exhibition, Amy Sherald, and showcased her signature art style.

Sonya Clark, Hair Wreath
Sonya Clark, Blued

Sonya Clark (1967-) is an artist known for her mixed media work. Born to parents from Trinidad and Jamaica, her Afro-Caribbean heritage has influenced her work. Clark's artistic interest started by watching her maternal grandparents' sewing and woodworking craftsmanship. The Spelman Museum exhibited her work in Material Girls in 2011 and Brides of Anansi in 2014. Her work is exhibited throughout the US and Europe.

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Iona Rozeal Brown, The Reunion (Song of Solomon 5:10-11)

Iona Rozeal Brown (1966-) is an American contemporary artist with a distinctive art style called Ukiyo-e, a traditional Japanese art genre that gained prominence during the Edo Period (1600-1800). Brown explores the intersections of Japanese and Black American cultures and the appropriation and influence of hip-hop in Japan.

Lina Iris Viktor, Constellations III

Lina Iris Viktor (1987-) is a British-Liberian conceptual artist living between Italy and London. Her photography, painting, and film background focuses on the cultural and socio-political magnitudes of the African diaspora. Viktor’s unique artistic identity relies on the enthrallment of gold and bold hues on black or silvery bases.

Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Valerie Cassel Oliver, Cinema Remixed and ReloadedBlack Women and the Moving Image Since 1970

Cinema Remixed and Reloaded is a historical survey of Black women artists and video art that examines artists' careers, including Camille Billops, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, and more. The works explore personal experiences and popular visual culture and include artists' perspectives on racial politics, gender inequities, gender empowerment, and the pursuit of power.

Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Kirsten Pai Buick, Erin J. Gilbert, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Antwaun Sargent, Franklin Sirmans, Valerie Cassel Oliver, Deborah Roberts, Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi

This catalog featuring the work full-page, full-color illustrations of 80-plus works by mixed media collage artist Deborah Roberts is the companion piece to her exhibition of the same name that was on view at Spelman College. Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi was the first major publication of Robert's work, including some of her early work, more recent text-based images, and an interview between Deborah Roberts and Valerie Cassel Oliver. This catalog was published by the Georgia Museum Of Art And Spelman College Museum Of Fine Art.

Renee Stout, Andrea Barnwell Brownlee (Foreword), Mark Sloan, Fatima Mayfield, Ade Ofunniyin, Bernard L. Herman, Theodore Rosengarten, Leslie Umberger, Renée Stout: Tales of the Conjure Woman

Tales of a Conjuring Woman, the art catalog accompanying Reneé Stout's exhibit at Spelman College Museum, enables us to view a particular aspect of African Americans' rich traditions and cultural practices. Renée Stout's work guides the viewers through an exploration of an underground system of African-derived folk beliefs preserved from slavery to the present.

Maren Hassinger, Kellie Jones, Anne Collins Smith, Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Constance Mallinson, Maren Hassinger : ...dreaming

Artist Maren Hassinger's exhibition Hassinger, Maren - ...Dreaming catalog, published by the Spelman College Museum, explores the expansive practice that shows the relationship between nature and humanity through Hassinger's careful choice of materials, including wire rope to cement. The work investigates movement, family, love, nature, environment, consumerism, identity, and race.

Alan Schroeder, In Her Hands, JaeMe Bereal, Illustrator

Augusta Savage (1892-1962) was a sculptor and a pioneer of her time. Alan Schroeder and JaeMe's illustrated children's biography recounts the life of Augusta Savage in the vibrant telling of her story. Ms. Savage loved to create from childhood and, as she grew up, pursued a career as a sculptor in New York. Ms. Savage faced hardships and discrimination, but her dedication and perseverance made her one of the leading artists of the Harlem Renaissance. The Spelman College Museum is home to two sculptures by Augusta Savage.

Roda Ahmed, Alma's Art, Anita Cheung, Illustrator

Alma Thomas (1891-1978) was an American painter known for using vibrant abstract water color and acrylic paintings. Ms. Thomas explored the power of color and form in her luminous and contemplative paintings. Roda Ahmed is a New York Times best-selling author, Publisher, and founder and CEO of High Tree Publishing, a boutique children’s book publishing house. Anita Cheung is a mixed-media artist, illustrator, and designer based in Vancouver.

Alma's Art is an important book to paint young minds with broad strokes that celebrate the colors of our world.

The Miami MoCAAD Team



Miami MoCAAD Board Members:

Marilyn Holifield, Hans Ottinot, Monique Hayes, Sheldon Anderson,

Dr. Nelson L. Adams III

Volunteer-Museum Working Group Member

Michelle Johnson



Director of Interactive Media

Corbin Graves



Interns: Christian Allen, Arielle Bowleg, Jada Brown, Divya Srinivasan

Juneteenth launch video of Miami MoCAAD's first high-tech mural honoring Miami's first Black Judge. Go to murals.miamimocaad.org
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