Through ongoing collaboration with the communities it serves, NAAM creates exhibitions that are relevant, inclusive, engaging, and entertaining. Our exhibitions explore the connections between our region and the history, art, and culture of people of African descent.
Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts
September 17, 2016 – March 19, 2016
Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts is an exhibition that highlights the many accomplishments of African Americans and other minorities who dared to overcome social norms and prejudices to pursue their passion and pave the way for future generations of world class dancers. The exhibit is organized by Dance Theatre of Harlem, California African American Museum, and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington D.C., Dance Theatre of Harlem.
The colorful history and powerful social and artistic impact of the renowned ballet company and school is brought to life in the exhibition’s more than 250 objects, including costumes, historical photographs, set pieces, and documentary video excerpts from four dramatically-staged ballets that are iconic to the company: A Streetcar Named Desire, Creole Giselle, Dougla andFirebird.
In addition to the costumes and staged ballets, exhibition highlights include numerous artifacts including original tour programs, letters from choreographers and dignitaries, magazine articles, design bibles, more than 20 original tour posters from the company’s New York City and worldwide touring seasons over the decades—including Dance Theatre of Harlem’s (DTH) first performance in New York City at the Guggenheim Museum and their first international tour—and an overview of Arthur Mitchell’s career and accomplishments. The exhibition also contains a large one-of-a-kind quilt with embroidered images of signature DTH ballets, and patrons can view a BBC documentary on Arthur Mitchell and Dance Theatre of Harlem.
In writing about the vibrancy and impressive talent of Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969, The New York Times’ former chief dance critic, Clive Barnes, began his article with the following rhetorical question, “Black is beautiful, classic ballet is beautiful, so why are the two so rarely found together?”
An Elegant Utility
January 28- May 28, 2017
An Elegant Utility explores the creation of place, identity and the Northwest African American community that has historically characterized Seattle’s Central District neighborhood. Featuring a collection of artifacts, including photographs, utilitarian house hold belongings, and legal ledgers, An Elegant Utility examines how the personal history of artist Inye Wokoma’s familial lineage, the Green family, serves as an entry point through which the larger story of African-Americans in Seattle, is reflected.
In this exhibition, Wokoma creates a kind of sanctum encompassing the lifelong possessions of his grandfather, which tell the rich, layered narrative of hope, struggle, loss and the strong-willed drive of a family to establish place and create personal and communal identity.
The exhibit’s artifacts include turn of the 20th century work tools, recreational items such as an old metal and canvas catcher’s mask, church fans and collected issues of Ebony, Jet and Time magazines from the 1960’s & 1970’s. Wokoma’s, An ElegantUtility urges viewers to recognize the relationship between racist housing policies, civic disinvestment in public services and infrastructure, and the seemingly irresistible momentum of the current displacement of Black people.
LEGACY HALL FOYER
Artist Studio: Drawing Attention Outside the Lines
2016 Dr. Carver Gayton Youth Curator Program Exhibit
From inside the Artist Studio, NAAM Youth Curators present Drawing Attention Outside the Lines. The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper, a representation of legendary artists that span span three centuries recently on view at NAAM, inspires this exhibition. Over twelve sessions, Youth Curators received instruction to develop their artistic skill and through the process formed a deeper regard for African American artists. As Youth Curators challenged their creativity, they experienced the limitless potential for experimenting outside of self-imposed boundaries to express art through their own lens.
Finding value in art, being comfortable with creating it and interpreting it, is as much personal as it is public. Art appreciation is in the eye of the beholder; there are no mistakes. Experience the art and gain insight into the perspectives of students from this immersive art-making program.
2016 Youth Curator Program is supported by KeyBank Foundation.