About the Artists

A picture of Curlee Raven HoltonBlind Spots - Curlee Raven Holton

B.F.A. Cleveland Institute of Art
M.F.A. Honors College at Kent State University

Curlee Raven Holton is a printmaker and painter whose work has been exhibited professionally for over 25 years in more than 30 one-person shows and more than 80 groups’ shows. His exhibitions have included prestigious national and international venues such as Egypt’s 7th International Biennale, Taller de arts Plasticas Rufino Tamayo in Oaxaca, Mexico, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Holton earned his M.F.A. with honors from Kent State University and his B.F.A. from the Cleveland Institute of Fine Arts in Drawing and Printmaking. Since 1991 he has taught printmaking and African American art history at Lafayette Collage in Easton, Pennsylvania and is also the founding director of the Experimental Printmaking Institute.

Holton’s work is in many private and public collections including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Yale University Art Gallery, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Library of Congress. He has presented more than 70 public lectures on the subjects of his work, African American art, and contemporary printmaking. Articles and reviews of his work have appeared in more than forty different publications. He has lectured and presented demonstrations throughout the United States and Mexico, the West Indies, and Costa Rica, and has been an artist-in-residence at museums, colleges and universities.

In Holton’s own words, “My work as an artist is based on both public and a private narrative. The public narrative has led to a commentary on issues that impact society in general including race, poverty, political concerns, isolation and class. It has also led me to explore intrapersonal relationships based on traditional roles and archetypes. I try to capture people and sometimes things in their most private or solitary moments, even when these moments are in public view. My private narrative pushes me further and presents my personal negotiation of these same issues and frequently confronts ramifications that are more intimate in their nature. My narratives can be both objective and subjective. My work overtly considers the forces that have developed my point of view and as a result there are frequently messages on multiple levels for the discerning viewer.”

The piece "Blind Spots" was the second print in a series of work by the same title making references to how we as humans often have blind spots or biases and prejudices about people or experiences that blind us from being compassionate and understanding of difference in all its manifestations such as cultural practices, language, values and perceptions that differ from our own.”

 

A picture of Samella LewisBoy on a Bench - Samella Lewis

Samella Sanders Lewis is an African American printmaker, author, and former educator. Widely exhibited and collected as an artist herself, she is nevertheless perhaps even better known as a historian, critic, and collector of art, especially African-American art. Lewis has completed four degrees, five films, seven books, and a substantial body of artworks which have received great critical respect. Her artistic and wonderful mind showed itself at the early age of four, when she started drawing and painting. She pursued an art degree starting off at Dillard University in 1941, but left Dillard for Hampton Institute in Virginia, earning her masters degree in 1947. She earned her B.A. degree at Hampton University, and then earned her master and doctorate in Fine arts and Art History at the Ohio State University.

Later she became chair of fine Arts Department at Florida A&M University in 1952; she was a professor at the State University of New York and at Scripps College in Claremont, California. She is the founder of the International Review of African American Art in 1975, also the Museum of African American Arts in 1976.

 

A picture of Richard Ray WhitmanDo Indians Go to Santa Fe When They Die - Richard Ray Whitman

Yuchi and Creek painter, photographer, poet, actor and filmmaker Richard Ray Whitman graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 1970 and studied at the California Institute of the Arts in 1972. His participation in the 1973 People’s Struggle at Wounded Knee had a profound impact, galvanizing his commitment to his role as an artist and a tribal citizen. His activism resulted in numerous artist residencies in public and alternative schools from the late 1980s through the 1990s. As an artist-in-residence with the Oklahoma Arts Council he worked with Oklahoma City’s Native American Center’s youth-at-risk program. Whitman has also worked with youth offenders, teaching rehabilitative arts therapy in state correctional institutions. In 1987, he was honored with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award for his human rights and social justice commitments. Whitman’s extensive film credits, impressive exhibition history (including Continuum 12 at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation in 2004 and La Biennale di Venezia in 2001) and critical acclaim are evidence of his leadership and centrality to the field.

Whitman employs various strategies and incorporates multiple media to address issues of identity (personal and tribal), sovereignty, survival (personal and cultural), Indian removal, social change, language preservation and historical amnesia. While his critiques are poignant, peeling back the veneer revealing the painful realities of Indigenous life, the underlying message is one of resistance, survival and cultural vibrancy. He challenges the notion that Native peoples are extinct while revealing the continued assaults against Indigenous people, their land and their way of life by the United States and its citizens.

“The central image is from taken from a black and white photograph I took of myself and other students at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe in 1969.  Each individual in the lithograph is identified by tribal name - not the commonly used English names for the tribes, but the original names used by tribes to identify themselves.  I am Tsoyaha, children of the sun - although in English our tribal name is Yuchi.

Below that image is a map of "Home Lands" with Oklahoma painted in black, a mingling of colors for a place where people from tribes throughout the country were forced to relocate, away from their home lands.  Even so, tribal identities remain strong, as evidenced by the individuals who came to study art in Santa Fe.

I liked what America Meredith (a Cherokee citizen who owns a gallery in Santa Fe) had to say about the lithograph "Do Indian Artists Go to Santa Fe When They Die?" when it was published in New Mexico Magazine this January.  She wrote, "The title has a double-edged meaning for me. On the one hand, Santa Fe is "heaven,” the center of the Indian art world - Oklahoma artists continually observe that they have to travel to Santa Fe to sell their work to Oklahoma collectors. The other point is that so many Native artists lose their edge, their content, or their connection to their own tribes, and create decorative, easily marketable work. So in a way, as artists, they die."

 

A picture of Tomie AraiFamily Pictures - Tomie Arai

American printmaker and installation artist. Born and raised in New York City, Arai, a third-generation Japanese American printmaker, mixed-media artist, public artist and cultural activist, studied art at the Philadelphia College of Art and The Printmaking Workshop in New York. Since the 1970s, her diverse projects have ranged from individual works to large-scale public commissions. She has designed permanent public works, including an interior mural commemorating the African burial ground in lower Manhattan and an outdoor mural for Philadelphia’s Chinatown. Other works include Wall of Respect for Women (1974), a mural on New York’s Lower East Side, which was a collaboration between Arai and women from the local community. Her art has been exhibited in such venues as the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, International Center for Photography, P.S.1 Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, all New York and the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Growing up in New York’s ethnically mixed environment, she came to conceive of the local Asian presence as part of an extended “third world” culture. Reflecting a deep investment in art as social practice, Arai’s work is anchored in US race politics, immigration, family and labor history, influenced by her early engagement with the public art and mural movement, as well as with grassroots Asian American arts groups.

Her evocative works, typically incorporating photoscreenprinted portraits, have melded poignant tributes to individual lives, with visualizations of global migratory flows, points of settlement in this nation and forms of hybridity arising from the mixing of cultures and peoples, such as Laundryman’s Daughter (1988), a screenprint that featured the dual image of a mother and daughter taken from archival sources of immigrants’ photos. Seeking common cause in the histories and struggles of Asians and other minoritized groups, a number of her pieces have integrally involved collaborations with members of different communities, whose lived realities and historical experiences she seeks to portray.

 

Flower Girl - Letitia Huckaby      

“I am a photographer at heart; each piece starts with an image and progresses from there.  Along with that, I love pushing the boundaries of photography. Using a traditional practice in an untraditional way and hopefully creating a new visual language.

The piece you are exhibiting is an image of my daughter Halle Lujah at the age of three, she is six now.  In the background is an image of a vintage fabric sack.  The piece was inspired by stories my mother told me as a child about her own childhood growing up in rural Louisiana.  Her family grew or slaughtered everything they ate accept flour, and her mother would use the sacks to make clothes for the children.

It was an amazing residency at Brandywine and I would jump at the chance to do it again.  I loved the challenge of not only collaborating, but working in a medium that is not my own.”

 

200 Years - Allan Edmunds

When asked about this piece, Allan said, “Two hundred years marks the time from 1808, when the Slave Act forbid the direct importation of slaves to the U.S. This was the first official U.S. recognition of the slave issue in America. The signers of the US constitutional convention pushed it back for 20 years to get all the member states to agree on a constitution in 1788. It was exactly 200 years later that Barak Obama was elected as the first Black president. The print celebrates this progress and pays homage to the many writers, orators, lawyers, elected officials and civil rights leaders who contributed to the progress of Blacks in America and for which Barack Obama was himself engaged in, using his multiple skills, training and elected office to push for progress.”