Hampton Art Lovers Continues to Make a Cultural Impact

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Hampton Art Lovers inspires the appreciation of African-American Fine Art and believes that the understanding of culture, whether our own or others is becoming increasingly valuable. We had the opportunity to speak with one of the co-founders, Christopher Norwood, to learn more about their mission and their current exhibit in Miami.

Tell us about the “Ebony Broadsides Celebration of the Masters” poster art exhibition that will open up during Detroit Art Week.

Hampton Art Lovers Presents: “Ebony Broadsides, Celebration of the Masters”, is a fine art poster exhibition featuring original signed exhibition posters of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, John Biggers, Lois Mailou Jones, Gordon Parks, Roy DeCarava, Benny Andrews, Oliver Johnson, Don Thompson, and Ed Clark. The show also includes original signed poster art of Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, Samella Lewis, James Denmark, and Basil Watson. With special artist proofs and studies by Ernie Barnes and A.C. Hollingsworth. All artwork is courtesy of The Norwood Collection.

Ebony Broadsides is first of its kind, to our knowledge, to feature fine art exhibition posters of African American artists. Fine Art exhibition posters are advertisements that incorporate an artists’ image, painting, or design with exhibition dates, text, or gallery information. They promote the art, artist, and the gallery or museum. Produced by renown institutions, often in tight collaboration with the artists they advertise, executed by well-established printers and published in limited editions, they represent an original way of admiring fine art. Exhibition prints are often made in editions of a few hundred, yet grow even rarer as people don’t realize their value. Although they incorporate the original artwork of the artists, the poster themselves become original artwork/design, then even more-so when signed by the artists again.

If you could have dinner with any three artists, living or dead, who would you choose?

John Biggers for sure, Biggers was the first African American artist to spend extensive time in Africa studying African Art. I feel that he’s one of the handfuls if any, that have bridged the gap of African symbolism to African American experiences. As far as I’m concerned, he created Afrofuturism, and he deserves homage. Another artist at the dinner table would have to be Printmaker and Sculptor, Elizabeth Catlett. Although she is the foremost African American woman artist of the last century, I probably wouldn’t event talk art with her. She moved to Mexico in the 1940s, gave up her citizenship because she was being harassed by the U.S. Government for creating images of working-class black folk and was labeled a communist because of it. I would love to share a Mexican meal with her and just talk politics. She was an amazing spirit. Lastly, the artistry of Lois Mailou Jones is calming. Her watercolors are perfect. It would be great to talk to her about her travels. She was the first internationally recognized African American women artist. She was traveling alone in France in the 1930s, that must have been such an adventure for an African American woman. She had a 70-year career as an artist and educator, teaching at Howard University for 60 years. So many amazing artists came through that program over that period. What a dam dinner!!! Plus Collard Greens and Mac & Cheese….

What is your next important show in Miami? Tell us why we should come.

From now until September 8th will be “The Art of a Caged Bird Singing: The Personal Art Collection of Maya Angelou” & “FrancoFiles, Code Noir: A Visual Exploration of Negritude in New Orleans, Haiti, and Senegal” exhibits.

In “The Art of a Caged Bird Singing: The Personal Art Collection of Maya Angelou,” we will showcase the artwork that adorned her home and inspired her poetry, including, Phoebe Beasley’s “Sunrise is Coming After Awhile.” Inspired by the poetry of Langston Hughes, Beasley’s work illustrated a book of Langston Hughes poetry that was edited by Maya Angelou with an introduction and afterword penned by her. We will also showcase original lithographs from the illustrations in Maya Angelou’s book “Our Grand Mothers” by John Biggers and various selections by Dean Mitchell who illustrated Angelou’s book “Music, Rivers Deep in My Soul.” Select drawings/paintings by Tom Feelings, an artist that Dr. Angelou befriended for many years. Each of Feelings selections included in this exhibit was lovingly inscribed and personalized for Ms. Angelou.

In “FrancoFiles: A Visual Exploration of the Negritude in New Orleans, Haiti, and Senegal.” We are exhibiting the Fine Art Photographs of Brooklyn photographer Phillip Shung. Shung has traveled extensively to discover the “connections” across the French colonies and the human capital that was plundered in the creation of the francophone world. The French colonial influence will be explored through the lens of an exceptional eye (Shung). Senegal, Haiti and New Orleans share a culture, a people and food.

People should want to come to see these two exhibitions because we will create an foster a relationship between these two installations. We will weave into the exhibitions Maya Angelou’s poem “Africa,” a poem that tells the story of a woman who has been abused but ultimately, she survives. She is resurrected and made stronger through her trials and tribulations. The poem is configured as a metaphor for Africa. In the first lines of the poem, the woman (Africa) is portrayed as complex and eternally gorgeous. Things take a turn for the worse in the second stanza when this beautiful woman’s children are stolen, sold, and converted to new religions by violence. In the last stanza, the woman who suffered throughout the years is “rising.” She (Africa) remembers her past but is “striding” in the present, while taking on the new world. Our goal is to actualize this poem through the curation, we want people to leave the exhibition feeling good and striding towards a new and improved definition of themselves.

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