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Museum of Nebraska Art presents A Greater Spectrum: African American Artists of Nebraska • 1912-2010

Organized by the Museum of Nebraska Art, this first comprehensive survey of African American artists with ties to Nebraska is an historic exhibition. Featuring 91 artworks from the early 20th century to today, A Greater Spectrum: African American Artists of Nebraska • 1912-2010 presents an overview of the creative endeavors by 22 visual artists who have lived in Nebraska at some point in their lives.



Among the artists included are John Johnson, a photographer whose work provides insightful glimpses of the Lincoln black community in the early 20th century; Aaron Douglas who traveled to New York where he was became the leading artist of the Harlem Renaissance after graduation from the University of Nebraska in the 1920s; William E. Artis who taught ceramics and sculpture at Chadron State College in the 1950s and ‘60s; Lincoln-born Ruth Waddy who was part of an influential group of mid century black artists in California; Rudy Smith, award-winning photographer and the first African American on the editorial staff of the Omaha World-Herald; and current Omahans Little Alston, Wanda Ewing, and Therman Statom – three of today’s prominent artists. On view are artworks in a variety of subjects, styles, and media ranging from painting, drawing, prints, and sculpture to photography, ceramic, and glass.

Accompanying the exhibition will be an illustrated catalogue with a major essay by exhibition organizer and MONA Curator Teliza V. Rodriguez and guest essays by Ernie Chambers, Peggy Jones, and Neville Murray. The catalogue is the first publication to provide an historical overview of the role of African American artists in reflecting and shaping Nebraska culture, and serves as an important point of reference. A variety of programs is planned during the course of the exhibition featuring artists whose work is included in the show.

With artworks from MONA’s collection inspiring the exhibition, lenders include artists and their heirs, collectors, schools and universities, and museums. Institutional lenders are Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia; Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.; and in Nebraska: Chadron State College, Chadron; Sheldon Museum of Art, Nebraska State Historical Society, and Lincoln Public Schools, all Lincoln; and Loves Jazz & Arts Center and Omaha Public Schools, both Omaha. Individual lenders include John Axelrod, Myriel Boes, Joan Gibson, Nina & Mike Grant, Dr. Edward J. Littlejohn, Dr. Dianne Whitfield Locke, McWilliams Family, Evangeline J. Montgomery, George & Eva Neubert, Larry & Judy Roots, and Suzanne & Audie Wise.

Important funding has been provided by the following agencies: the National Endowment for the Arts, the Nebraska Humanities Council, and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Additional support has been provided by the Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency, through its matching grants program funded by the Nebraska Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

A Greater Spectrum: African American Artists of Nebraska • 1912-2010 honors these artists as a group and recognizes each participant’s unique contribution to the story of Nebraska culture. Together, the exhibition, the catalogue, and the programming reflects a wide range of concepts and viewpoints, providing a greater understanding of the significant role that these artists have played and continue to play in shaping the culture of the region.

The Museum of Nebraska Art is grateful to have this opportunity to showcase each of these artists and proud to present this ground-breaking exhibition.

An opening reception is planned on Saturday, December 4th, from 6 to 8 p.m. At 6:30 a program featuring comments by Curator Teliza V. Rodriguez, along with artists Littleton Alston, Wanda Ewing, Peggy Jones, and Tafadzwa Ndoda takes place. 

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