The Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art

The Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art

One of the most important collections of African American visual art dating from the 18th century to the present, the collection includes 62 works from Edward Bannister, Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Robert S. Duncanson, Richard Hunt, Jacob Lawrence and others. This collection forms the foundation of a multidisciplinary center for the study, understanding and appreciation of African American art and culture. Items from the collection have previously rotated in the Evans Center Gallery and through unique exhibitions such as the 2012 "Life's Link: A Fred Wilson Installation," and the 2017 travelling exhibition of Jacob Lawrence's work.

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Genesis Creation Sermon II: And God Brought Forth the Firmament and the Waters

Based on biblical texts and his own memory of the Sunday sermons of the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Sr. at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, Jacob Lawrence's "Genesis Creation Sermon" series delivers a richly personal interpretation. Inspired by realism and details of iconography, Lawrence's "Genesis Creation Sermon" series also reveals his interest in references from art history. The bright colors and expressive, monumental preacher figure that stands central in each work reflect the artist’s affinity for action and resonance given in the sermon.

The Mirror

Robert Blackburn was a graphic artist, a painter as well as the founder and director of the Printmaking Workshop in New York. His early prints tended toward the figurative, often portraying human forms on abstract backgrounds. He later moved on to creating more abstract works. In "The Mirror," he has painted a collection of objects and conveyed a sense of their reflection through the use of form, shades of light and dark, and texture, presenting an example of how he often used his printmaking to blur the lines between prints and painting.

Miss X

"Miss X" is one among many prints by Dox Thrash that portray honest and moving scenes of African American life during the mid 20th century. Reflecting the general scope and style of his oeuvre, this print offers the angled and striking features of his subjects within atmospheric shadows and light. This affecting and unique aura is directly related to the medium of Carborundum printing, which Thrash invented at the Fine Print Workshop of the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project in Philadelphia.

Genesis Creation Sermon I: In the Beginning All Was Void

Based on biblical texts and his own memory of the Sunday sermons of the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Sr. at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, Jacob Lawrence's "Genesis Creation Sermon" series delivers a richly personal interpretation. Inspired by realism and details of iconography, Lawrence's "Genesis Creation Sermon" series also reveals his interest in references from art history. The bright colors and expressive, monumental preacher figure that stands central in each work reflect the artist's affinity for action and resonance given in the sermon.

Summer Twilight

Painter Edward Mitchell Bannister found much of the inspiration for his paintings in the seascapes and landscapes of New England. He maintained a keen interest in the French Barbizon School and in the work of artist Jean-François Millet. Accordingly, Bannister was known for using a tonalism style (which emphasizes mood and shadow) in the rendering of his pastoral scenes. His technique often involved building up the surface of his works through heavy, dense brush strokes in what was often deemed Impressionist style painting.

Etude in Blue

Educated at Howard University and Columbia University, Alma Thomas was associated with the Washington Color School, which also included her contemporaries such as Morris Louis and Sam Gilliam. Thomas was a champion of abstraction as an expressive art form that she believed could transcend specific politics, and chose her imagery and palette in response to nature and scientific phenomena and advancements.

The Card Game

Jacob Lawrence's "The Card Game" depicts a group of four card players, two men and two women, seated around a red table wearing embellished garments and looking deeply engaged in their game. This scene is framed by an arch of white curtains, and the brilliant light that illuminates from within the group is similar to card playing scenes from Northern Renaissance artists like Caravaggio and Adam de Coster. Lawrence, like Sargent Claude Johnson, was inspired by Mexican muralists, particularly José Clemente Orozco, who employed vivid colors and expressive figures in his works.

Landscape

Painter Edward Mitchell Bannister found much of the inspiration for his paintings in the seascapes and landscapes of New England. He maintained a keen interest in the French Barbizon School and in the work of artist Jean-François Millet. Accordingly, Bannister was known for using a tonalism style (which emphasizes mood and shadow) in the rendering of his pastoral scenes. His technique often involved building up the surface of his works through heavy, dense brush strokes in what was often deemed Impressionist style painting.

Head of a Woman

"Head of a Woman" is indicative of Charles Sebree's style in which he uses washes and planes of muted color and black aqueous line to delineate elements of his figures. Also a noted playwright, set designer and director of the Chicago Renaissance, Sebree's portraits primarily featured harlequins. They exemplify the Modernist influence, specifically the work of Picasso and Modigliani, and this particular work shares striking similarities to Picasso's acclaimed work "Woman in White" (1923).

Mount Calvary

William H. Johnson returned to the United States in 1938 after living abroad in France and Scandinavia where he was initially trained in modernist visual language and later Northern folk art vernacular. Once he returned to America, Johnson immersed himself in African American traditions, creating work that spanned media and imagery — from landscapes and still lifes to portraiture and religious scenes. "Mount Calvary" is a striking piece, with elongated figures, bold colors and flattened space that typifies Johnson's mature style.