Hood Museum acquires ten works by African-American artists

Pieces from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation bolster Hood’s diverse collection.

by Madeline Sawyer | 12 minutes ago

With its recent acquisition of ten pieces from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, the Hood Museum of Art has expanded its collection of American artwork showcasing African American artists from the southern United States.

The new pieces include painting, sculpture, quilting and mixed media works by eight different artists.

Hood director John Stomberg has expressed his enthusiasm for the acquisition.

“Here at Hood, for example, we’ve long been interested in multi-source art, multi-source art – not just New York, not just trained – but it’s a really daring step for us. “said Stomberg. “The goal is to do social good and also to change the history of art with these sales.”

The Souls Grown Deep Foundation, founded over a decade ago by art historian William Arnett, has the largest collection of works by black artists in the southern United States. Through grants, the foundation invests in artist communities, with the aim of supporting educational initiatives, economic empowerment, and racial and social justice.

Arnett originally founded the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in order to share his personal art collection. The Foundation’s mission is to bring more southern black artists into the canon of American art, according to its website.

Stomberg described the new acquisitions as representative of a “direct and urgent art form” and mentioned that the museum will not separate the works, but instead integrate them into the larger collection.

Hood’s African Art Curatorial Research Associate Alexandra Thomas, African Art Curatorial Research Associate at Hood, agreed with Stomberg on the importance of these works.

“It’s really important to emphasize the kind of philosophy of what Souls Grown Deep Foundation is because the works… a very deep tradition of African American artists in the southern United States making art that has been erased from a lot of modern art history, ”Thomas said.

By acquiring the new pieces, the Hood joins a prestigious group of institutions that have worked with the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts. In Boston.

“We feel lucky enough at the Hood Museum to be on this list and to have obtained such a wide range of work from a number of different artists and in a range of different media as well,” said the curator. from Hood’s Academic Programming, Amelia Kahl. 01.

According to Kahl, the works acquired by the Hood include paintings, assemblages, sculpture, and a rare Gee’s Bend quilt.

Despite the differences between their works, Thomas said, the artists are all influenced by certain common traditions and practices.

“These are African-American artists who also sort of inherit some African artistic traditions directly,” Thomas said. “The idea of ​​assemblage is very central in the artistic practices of West and Central Africa. Gee’s Bend quilts, for example – lots of [the artists] live in ancient plantations where their ancestors were enslaved, so there is a direct link between Africa and slavery and these works of art.

Thomas explained that assemblage and DIY, techniques used in these works, involve the use of readily available objects and their use as materials to create something new.

Malia Chung-Paulson ’24, along with other event attendees, had the chance to see part of the acquisition at Hood reopening celebration last weekend. Information on the collection and the Souls Grown Deep Foundation accompanies the three works by Thornton Dial currently on display.

“I think there is really something to be said about artists who use everything and do everything with it,” said Chung-Paulson. “It’s art in itself, whatever medium or story you’re trying to tell.”

Elizabeth Li ’25 shared this respect for the innovation of artists. She said she immediately noticed the use of unconventional materials in the Thornton Dial Heaven and hell on earth, one of the paintings on display.

“Art stems from our everyday life, so it’s really cool to have these common and everyday objects presented in a different way to evoke a feeling that is greater than their normal use in life,” Li said. .

Thomas and Kahl both pointed out the commonalities of these pieces.

“The [are] lots of themes of resilience and resistance and ancestral memory, ”said Thomas.

Kahl noted her appreciation for the artists’ ingenuity and said she was excited about how the work reflected their backgrounds and experiences. She noted that she hopes the pieces Hood acquired will influence the way viewers perceive and understand American art.

“Certainly, as a New England institution, it helps expand the history of contemporary art,” Kahl said. “And also – and this is to quote John Stomberg a bit – the story of who is included in ‘American art’.”

About Glenn Gosselin

Glenn Gosselin

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