Members’ Corner: Former CAA President Judith Brodsky Co-Curates Retrieving the Life and Art of James Wilson Edwards And A Circle of Black Artists
posted by CAA — Jul 25, 2022
The Arts Council of Princeton will present a revolutionary exhibition in October 2022. Retrieving the Life and Art of James Wilson Edwards and a Circle of Black Artists reveals how Black artist/teachers were integral and influential members in a predominantly white regional community in the last quarter of the 20th century. While there have been blockbuster exhibitions of a few contemporary Black artists during recent years of efforts by museums and galleries to become more diverse, this is one of the first exhibitions to explore the historical context from which these artists emerged.
Co-curators Judith K. Brodsky and Rhinold Ponder say “this has been a magnificent voyage of discovery about the lives and roles in art history of Black artists who have largely been forgotten or ignored as well as a reminder of the significance of Black collectors in preserving and promoting the history of Black artists and ensuring that they are eventually remembered for their contributions. We trust that our efforts here encourage others to restore Black artists and arts communities to their rightful places in American national and regional histories.” Brodsky is a Distinguished Professor Emerita at the Department of Visual Arts at Rutgers and previously served as a president of CAA. Ponder is an artist, activist, writer, lawyer, and founder of Art Against Racism.
This exhibition focuses on five late 20th-century master artists who lived and worked within 25 miles of each other in the geographic region from Princeton, New Jersey to New Hope, Pennsylvania: James Wilson Edwards, Rex Goreleigh, Hughie Lee-Smith, Selma Hortense Burke, and Wendell T. Brooks. These Black artists represent a diverse and vibrant regional arts community largely unknown in contemporary American art history. Nearly all the works in this exhibition come from private collections, highlighting the importance of collectors of color in restoring Black and brown artists to American art history and how their collecting sheds light on the systemic racism of the American art world. Recent attention to diversity in museum collections has revealed that only 1.2% of the holdings are by African American artists.
Retrieving the Life and Art of James Wilson Edwards and a Circle of Black Artists will be on view in the Arts Council of Princeton’s Taplin Gallery from October 14 through December 3, 2022 and will include an opening reception, panel discussion, and more. Additional information can be found on the Art Council of Princeton’s website.