Arts Clayton displays Tubman Museum holdings

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Joel Hall


The Tubman African American Museum in Macon exists as a key educational resource in the Southeast on black culture, art, and history, serving as the home of a range of traditional and contemporary African-American art and artifacts.

From now, until May 21, the Arts Clayton gallery in Jonesboro will showcase 47 works of art from the Tubman Museum's permanent collection, all by artists with strong ties to Georgia. The collection is entitled "Black Artists of Georgia: Selections from the Tubman Museum."

On Thursday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the gallery will host a free opening reception for the exhibit, featuring two- and three-dimensional works by such prolific Georgia artists as Benny Andrews, Amalia Amaki, and Kojo Griffin.

Arts Clayton Gallery Manager Karen Powers said the Black Artists of Georgia exhibit represents the gallery's first collaboration with the Tubman Museum. She said the exhibit offers a rare opportunity to see the works of the Tubman Museum's Georgia artists all in one place.

"We really wanted to do something that focused on black artists in Georgia and their contribution," Powers said. "For our community, we thought that this would be particularly relevant and interesting. All the works in this exhibit are by artists who are from Georgia, or Georgia born. The work is so diverse ... it touches on all mediums, all subjects, and, all points of view."

Among 25 artists featured in the exhibit are Andrews, an artist, author, teacher, and activist from Morgan County, Ga., who fought successfully to introduce more artwork by minorities and women into major art galleries; O.L. Samuels, a former sharecropper, prize fighter, and tree surgeon, who began sculpting wood after an injury left him unable to work; Amaki, a highly regarded art history professor and art educator in the Atlanta area; Nellie Mae Rowe, the daughter of a slave whose artistically decadent home in Vinings gained national attention, with all its available space, inside and out, being used for artist expression; and Griffin, a young artist, originally from Virginia, whose fantasy-based character drawings explore human perception.

Jeffrey Bruce, director of exhibitions at the Tubman Museum, said the museum has operated in downtown Macon since 1981 with the mission of promoting cultural understanding. He said the museum's loan of works to Arts Clayton will allow the gallery to diversify its offerings.

"I think it's a pretty interesting group of people as well as an interesting group of work," Bruce said. "We have some abstract things, some realist things. I think one of the good things about this exhibit is that there is something for everybody. It's a really diverse body of work, and I think that is the strength of it."

In coordination with the exhibit, outreach teachers from the Tubman Museum will host a "hands-on art experience" about African-American culture and Georgia history on April 9 at 11 a.m., and 1 p.m.; April 17 at 1 p.m.; May 7 at 11 a.m., and 1 p.m., and May 15 at 1 p.m. While the workshop is free, participants must call Arts Clayton to reserve space.

On April 17 at 11 a.m., and May 15, at 11 a.m., Arts Clayton will host an "Artist Talk" with selected artists featured in the Black Artists of Georgia exhibit.

For more information, call (770) 473-5457 or e-mail gallery@artsclayton.org.