Brenda P and Prints from the Permanent Collection
August 20, 2020 – March 15, 2021
Focus Gallery in the Mark and Janeth Sponenburgh Gallery
Brenda P by Barkley Hendricks, on loan through March 2021 thanks to the Art Bridges foundation, serves as the centerpiece for this exhibition. Accompanied by a selection of prints from the museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition presents work by some of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century and touches on themes important to many Black artists working during that time – the figure, abstraction, and history.
Brenda P is a masterpiece of American figurative painting. Painted in 1977, it depicts the confident and powerful image of a young Black woman – a visual representation of the James Brown lyric “Say it loud. I’m Black and I’m Proud.” Hendricks’ work builds on the notion of “Images of Dignity,” a phrase often associated with the artist Charles White, whose print Gideon is also on view in this exhibition. Both Hendricks and Kerry James Marshall, also included in this exhibition, had similar observations about the art they saw in museums when they were young: they did not see Black people depicted in the paintings they were drawn to. Both artists chose to incorporate classical and Renaissance compositional devices into their own work, as a way to celebrate Blackness and to alter the way Black people are seen in the world.
In addition to these figurative works, the exhibition also includes work by Romare Bearden, Alison Saar, David Driskell, Martin Puryear, Jacob Lawrence, Sam Gilliam, and Louisiana Bendolph.
This exhibition has been curated by Jonathan Bucci, the John Olbrantz Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, with the assistance of Joanna Gold, Hallie Ford Museum of Art Intern, Spring 2020, Art History major, class of 2022.
Brenda P by Barkley Hendricks is on loan through Art Bridges, a foundation that acquires and lends outstanding works of American art to small and medium-sized museums throughout the country. Started in 2017 by art collector and philanthropist Alice Walton, Art Bridges aims to place loans and support programming in communities with limited access to major works of American art.