Silver Linings: Celebrating the Spelman Art Collection

September 29, 2023–January 28, 2024

A circular canvas with a bright yellow and blue abstract painting on it
Betty Blayton (1937–2016) Vibes Penetrated, 1983, acrylic on canvas, diameter 60 ¾ in. Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Spelman College Purchase. © Estate of Betty Blayton

Founded in 1881 as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, Spelman College has long been an important cultural hub. The historically Black liberal arts college for women began collecting objects in 1899, and in 1996 the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art opened with the mission to uplift art by and about women of the African diaspora. This goal directly reflects Spelman College’s dedication to academic excellence in education of women of African descent. In honor of the museum’s 25 years and the College’s much longer legacy of collecting art, the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art organized the anniversary exhibition Silver Linings with a selection of works, from the 1900s until now, from the permanent collection. The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center has a similar history as an art museum started in 1864 at a women’s college founded in 1861. This academic year, we are celebrating two anniversaries—30 years in this building designed by César Pelli and completed in 1993, and 160 years of collecting at Vassar, which was the first college in the country to include an art museum as part of its original plan. By presenting Silver Linings this fall, the Loeb recognizes Spelman College while also honoring its own history, aspirations, and plans for the future of the collection.

A circular logo with the text "30 years at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center; 160 years at the Vassar College Art Gallery"

Silver Linings highlights the works of masters, pioneers and trailblazers who anchor the Spelman collection. Among the forty works in the exhibition there are sculptures by Beverly Buchanan, Selma Burke, and Elizabeth Catlett; paintings by Betty Blayton, Sam Gilliam, and Henry Ossawa Tanner; drawings by Herman “Kofi” Bailey, Nellie Mae Rowe, and Charles White; photographs by Amalia Amaki, Carrie Mae Weems, and Lorna Simpson; and mixed-media work by Emma Amos, Benny Andrews, and Romare Bearden.

Silver Linings: Celebrating the Spelman Art Collection is organized by Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, Georgia and curated by Liz Andrews and Karen Comer Lowe with initial contributions from Anne Collins Smith. Gallery texts were written by Charmaine Branch, Vassar class of 2014. Generous support was provided by Art Bridges and the Friends of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center Exhibition Fund.

A logo that says "Art Bridges" with a purple bridge-like curve between the two words




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