Black artists get spotlight in HCC show

Exhibit: Forty-one pieces are being displayed through June 13 at the school's gallery, with all the artwork done by 22 African-American residents of Howard County.

May 27, 1999|By Jill Hudson Neal | Jill Hudson Neal,SUN STAFF

The small collection of 41 pieces of art standing behind the glass doors of the Art Gallery of Howard Community College in Columbia is the first of its kind as far as the arts community can remember.

Though the types of art represented -- oil paintings and watercolors, woodcarvings, acrylics and photographs of everyday subjects -- can be found at museums and galleries all over the county, the community college exhibit marks the first time African-American artists who live in Howard County have had their own show.

The exhibit lasts until June 13. The artists will hold a reception at the gallery from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

The show was sponsored by the Howard County Center of African American Culture Inc. in Columbia and features works from 22 black artists who range in age from 28 to 82.

June Perry Robertson, 53, has five oil paintings in the show and said she was surprised at the number of African-American artists who live in the county.

"It's wonderful to see the talent that's right here in our area," said Robertson, who has exhibited works in several shows at the Howard County Center for the Arts and in her Columbia home. "It was an awakening for me to see so much African-American art in Howard County. I've been painting professionally for three years, and I didn't have a real feel for the number of people here.

"I'm glad the culture center decided to do it. It's a very nice undertaking, and I'm glad to be a part of it."

Vera Wilson, treasurer of the culture center and sponsor of the exhibit, said she plans to offer such a show every year.

The art runs the gamut from representational sculpture and oil paintings to self-portraits and watercolor scenes. A few pieces feature traditional African life and artifacts, though many are decidedly American in tone.

As an amateur artist, Wilson knew other African-American artists who lived and worked in the county needed an outlet for their work. She began gathering names and telephone numbers for black artists who might be interested in an exhibit.

"It took about four months to find about 30 artists," Wilson said. "Many of them were well-known, but the artists themselves didn't know each other.

"And when I asked directors of some of the local galleries about these artists, they also had limited information, but I knew they were out there. The artists themselves like to do their art but they're not very good self-promoters, so this is an opportunity for the community to see a sample of their works. I hope this [exhibition] will be a support system for them."

The Howard County Center of African American Culture Inc. opened in 1987 to promote the history of blacks in the county.

The center, at 5434 Vantage Point Road, features African-American memorabilia, inventions, a music collection, a library that holds more than 2,000 books on local black history and several turn-of-the-century artifacts.

Gallery hours for the show are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. Information: Howard County Center of African American Culture Inc. at 410-715-1921 or the HCC gallery at 410-772-4941.

Pub Date: 5/27/99

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