Exhibition Opens Saturday, February 6

Painting of human figures standing together

Beauford Delaney, Can Fire in the Park, 1946. Oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., Museum purchase

The Wichita Art Museum is proud to bring from Washington, D.C. an exhibition organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum that will open at the beginning of Black History Month. African American Art in the 20th Century: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond, which opens February 6, presents nearly 50 paintings and sculptures by 34 leading artists across seven decades.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum holds one of the premier collections of African American Art, and the best of the best of this collection will be on view at WAM this winter and spring. The combined artworks, by such notable artists as Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden and Benny Andrews, reveal a sweep of American cultural history from a conscious vantage point of the African American experience.

The show includes key examples of the Harlem Renaissance, a chapter in American experience when southern blacks migrated to this urban center and flourished artistically. Sequential chapters follow the civil rights era as well as self-taught expression in the rural south and contemporary commentary. Along the way the beauty as well as the hardship of African American experience are creatively and authentically explored.

Admission to the museum is free every Saturday and Sunday during the month of February. Weekends will also feature a music compilation and performances by ARISE (African Americans Renewing Interest in Spirituals Ensemble) with video composition and production by BIGMENTION.  Gallery hours are 10 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and noon to 5 pm on Sundays.

The exhibition with pair with strong adult, school, and family programming with Wichita collaborators to deepen community access and impact. The Wichita Art Museum is partnering on coordinated exhibitions and programs with Arts Partners, the Kansas African American Museum, and the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University.  See program details at wam.org/africanamericanart.

African American Art in the 20th Century: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond, is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The C.F. Foundation in Atlanta supports the museum’s traveling exhibition program, Treasures to Go. The William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment Fund provided financial support. The Wichita presentation of this exhibition has been generously underwritten by presenting sponsor Emprise Bank. Generous support has been provided by Louise Beren, Berry Foundation, DeVore Foundation, Sharon and Alan Fearey, Sonia Greteman and Chris Brunner, Gridley Family Foundation, and Julie and Bill Nicholson. 2021 exhibitions and public programs are generously supported by the Downing Foundation. All museum exhibitions receive generous sponsorship from the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum and the City of Wichita.