February 12 - May 1, 2005
This exhibition celebrates the heritage of African Americans through the display of Chris Webber's personal collection of artifacts, a selection of art from the Crocker's collection, and a public vote to choose an artwork that will be acquired for the Museum through the generous support of Chris Webber.
Chris Webber, Sacramento's All-Star forward, began collecting rare documents in 1994. His collection displays his passion for items that illuminate the legacy of African Americans' accomplishments for social equality. Included in the collection are personal writings of such groundbreaking luminaries as Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X; and first edition books of Booker T. Washington and Phillis Wheatley, the first African American author and the second American woman to be published. Among recent acquisitions to Webber's collection is a handwritten account book kept by an unknown Virginian in 1809, which records the sale of a family.
Complementing Webber's collection is the Crocker's own collection of artworks by African American artists, showcasing the numerous talents and accomplishments of the community. Through these pieces, the rich cultural and historical legacy of African Americans' struggles and triumphs over adversity will hopefully be understood and appreciated in a larger collective experience.
The artworks from the Crocker collection provide a visual counterpart to Webber's socio-political documents and display a wide-range of extraordinary artistic developments by renowned artists such as Romare Bearden, Richard Hunt, Jacob Lawrence, Oliver Jackson and Joseph Yoakum, among others. Many of these works explore themes of social struggles, perseverance, and the importance of community, while others are entirely abstract, revealing the artist's engagement with modern art movements.
Representational pieces, such as Romare Bearden's Mother and Child, explore the universal ideal of motherhood through the eyes of an African American well known for his perceptive probing of urban themes and African American traditions and cultures. Likewise, Jacob Lawrence's insight into the struggles of everyday life of African Americans found expression in his moving depictions of the northern migration, the civil rights movement and World War II, as well as biographical writings on the lives of Harriet Tubman, John Brown and Frederick Douglass. In addition to being a painter, Lawrence was also a printmaker who worked in a series format, such as his series of prints titled Celebrations of Heritage (1992), an example of which is included in the exhibition.
Other works in the exhibition explore African American history and themes through a less literal viewpoint. Richard Hunt, a Chicago abstractionist, best known for his enormous welded-steel and bronze sculptures, is portrayed by lithographs which suggest elements of African American literature, music and history. Likewise, Raymond Saunders' creations of collage and painting in his abstract mixed-media compositions, stemming from the urban experience, recall the improvisational qualities of jazz.
Lastly, as part of this exhibit, the Crocker will showcase four pieces of work by the following African American artists: John Bankston, Mike Henderson, David Huffman and Dominique Moody. Museum visitors will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite of the four works. The artwork receiving the most votes will be acquired by the Crocker Art Museum for its permanent collection through the generous support of Chris Webber.