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Michener Art Museum Celebrates African American Identity
Robert E. Peppers, Cross Rose (Hush Harbor Series), 2002, Mixed media, H. 78 x W. 56 x D. 10 inches, Collection of the Artist.

DOYLESTOWN, PA.- The James A. Michener Art Museum celebrates the African American experience through the work of emerging and established craft artists in the exhibition COLOR: Ten African American Artists. The project, organized by the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania, is on view at the Museum’s Doylestown location, March 15 through July 6, 2008. Over 30 creations on display are inspired by African folklore, religious symbols, historic clothing, imagination and daydreams, representing a variety of diverse backgrounds and personal histories.

This exhibit is sponsored by Mr. Sinkler Casselle, close friend of Nevada and Marshall Murray, Sr., Mr. Marshall M. Murray and Ms. Layle E. Murray, son and daughter of Nevada and Marshall Murray, Sr., Melissa V. Bond, Esq. and Norman Bing.

According to Kate Lydon, Director of Exhibitions at the Society for Contemporary Craft, “Color: Ten African American Artists provides audiences with an opportunity to appreciate African American identity reflected through a variety of craft media - clay, fiber, wood, glass and mixed materials. The works in the show, by both emerging and established artists from eight different states in the United States , combine indicators of past and present cultures from Africa and the Americas and offer a contemporary visual language that recounts personal histories.”

Adds Brian H. Peterson, the Museum’s Senior Curator: “We’re very pleased to bring to the Michener this innovative exhibition that not only celebrates African American identity, but pushes the boundaries between craft and such traditional genres as painting and sculpture.”

The show features artists from across the United States and includes such distinguished figures as Joyce Scott, Beverly Buchanan and Nick Cave . Scott, a graduate of the Maryland Institute of Contemporary Art in Baltimore and named Baltimorean of the Year in 2000 has works in such prestigious collections as The Baltimore Museum of Art, The National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington , D.C. and The American Craft Museum in New York City . Fellow female artist, Buchanan, a graduate of Colombia University in New York City , creates shacks in her artwork whether in the form of oil pastel drawings or three-dimensional sculpture which in her words, “recognize[s] the power of the shack and the vitality of the people who live in them.” Another artist featured in this exhibit is Nick Cave , whose work appears in collections at The School of the Art Institute in Chicago , the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City and The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago . His work references, in his words, “the world, environmental issues, light, energy and the power of one single voice united with others.”

Other featured artists include Tina Brewer, Robert E. Peppers, Michele Tejuola Turner, Cheryl Riley, Sharif Bey and June Gaddy. These artists work in a wide range of craft media including clay, glass, metal, wood and fiber. Their expressions are rooted in traditional processes and history, as well as an exploration of unexpected connections between craft and the more “mainstream” genres of painting, sculpture and conceptual/installation art.

In conjunction with this exhibition, the Museum in Doylestown presents two lectures. The programs are free with general museum admission; registration is required by calling 215-340-9800.

Tuesday, April 1 at 1 p.m.: Jamie Adam, Exhibitions Manager at The Society for Contemporary Craft, speaks on how many African American artists are moving past issues of race while remaining interested in “blackness,” and how their choice of materials informs this dichotomy.

Tuesday, April 22 at 1 p.m.: Alan Jacobson, President of Village of Arts and Humanities in Philadelphia, discusses how his organization has transformed a 260-square block area of North Philadelphia, one block at a time, through a neighborhood revitalization program that has evolved into a major provider of arts-inspired programs including education, land transformation, construction and economic development.

On May 2 for Doylestown’s First Friday Celebration, Council Rock High School South Concert Jazz Band, under the direction of Neil Delson, will present the music of Count Basie, Gordon Goodwin, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, and more. No reservations required; more information available by calling 215-340-9800.

On June 8 at 2 p.m. singer Phillip Mentor presents “A Spiritual Odyssey: Special Music Presentation” for an introspective look at African American culture through the eyes of the spiritual. The concert recital features music from classical and spiritual sources: Deep River , Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, The Gospel Train and Go Down Moses. The fee for the presentation is $10 members, $15 non-members, $5 students; includes general museum admission. Advance registration is required by calling 215-340-9800 or online at

Annual support for the Michener Art Museum is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Bucks County Commissioners and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

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