UPDATE: Harlem Renaissance Artist Aaron Douglas and Writer James Weldon Johnson with New African American Creative Expression
About This Event
UPDATE: Due to travel difficulties, Dr. Renée Ater will present remotely via Zoom from her home in Rhode Island. Attendees are welcome to gather in the S. Jim and Darla Farha Great Hall to watch her presentation—the Muse Café will have boxed bites plus a cash bar, and the Museum Store will be open. Participants also may click on the Zoom link below to automatically join the event. The Zoom link opens at 6:30 pm and the Howard E. Wooden Lecture begins at 6:45 pm.
5 pm | American Art Deco galleries open before the lecture with paid admission (free to WAM members)
6 pm | Festive mingling and cash bar; Muse Cafe boxed bites available for $9; Museum Store open
6:30 pm | Zoom link opens
6:45 pm | Dr. Renée Ater presents via Zoom from her home in Rhode Island; Howard E. Wooden Lecture begins in the S. Jim and Darla Farha Great Hall
The Spring 2022 Howard E Wooden Lecture, sponsored by the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum, welcomes art historian and public scholar Dr. Renée Ater, Provost Visiting Associate Professor, Africana Studies, Brown University, as she explores the paintings of Kansas native Aaron Douglas (1899–1979).
A Topeka native, Douglas–one of our state’s most important artists–became a leading painter of the Harlem Renaissance as Black art and culture flourished in New York during the 1920s. Douglas’ signature style combines African and African American stories with modernist geometry to create artworks that explore the African American experience.
Dr. Ater will provide a deeper look at Douglas’ 1935 painting Noah’s Ark, which is on view at WAM in the exhibition American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918–1939. Douglas illustrated poetry by James Weldon Johnson in 1927. This presentation considers Aaron Douglas’ painting Noah’s Ark in the context of Johnson’s God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse, his 1927 book of poems based on folk sermons. After creating the illustrations for Johnson, Douglas returned to the imagery from God’s Trombones in several of his most important oil paintings, including Noah’s Ark. Exploring the collaboration between Douglas and Johnson, Ater argues that the artist and the author created a vibrant Christian iconography from a uniquely Black perspective.
If you are unable to attend in person, the Howard E. Wooden Lecture will be recorded and posted to WAM YouTube Channel: youtube.com/wichitaartmuseum.