Many of this nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have amassed significant collections of American art and founded galleries and museums on their campuses. These collections provide a rich resource for the study of African American art, yet many also possess a diverse array of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American art. To Conserve a Legacy documents an outstanding sampling of paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, and sculptures owned by Clark Atlanta University, Fisk University, Hampton University, Howard University, North Carolina Central University, and Tuskegee University.
This book serves as the catalog for a major exhibition and conservation project organized by the Addison Gallery of American Art and The Studio Museum in Harlem, in association with the Williamstown Art Conservation Center and the six participating HBCUs. The book contains a profile of each university collection, color reproductions of many artworks included in the exhibition, biographical information on all the represented artists, and documentation of the conservation and care practices helping to preserve the art for future generations.
Two major essays place the HBCU art collections and this collaborative project in a historical context and develop six themes around which the exhibition was organized: Forever Free: Emancipation Visualized; The First Americans; Training the Head, the Hand, and the Heart; The American Portrait Gallery; American Expressionism; and Modern Lives, Modern Impulses. The artists include Romare Bearden, John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, William H. Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Edmonia Lewis, Archibald Motley, Georgia O'Keeffe, Horace Pippin, P. H. Polk, Alfred Stieglitz, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Doris Ulmann, Carl Van Vechten, Thomas Waterman, James Weeks, Charles White, and many others. The book also contains forty-two entry essays by American scholars on many of the individual artworks.
The exhibition was co-curated by Richard Powell, Chairman of the Art and Art History Department at Duke University, and Jock Reynolds, Director of the Yale University Art Gallery.