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Amistad Center for Art & Culture highlights collection and commemorates African American culture
Pipe, 19th century, Gouda, Holland, Royal Goedewaggan Manufacturer, Clay. The Amistad Center for Art & Culture. Simpson Collection, 1987.1.4022

HARTFORD, CONN.- The Amistad Center for Art & Culture presents Collective Memories: Selections from the Collection of The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, one of two exhibitions this year to commemorate the Amistad Center’s 25th anniversary and continued dedication to celebrating art andculture influenced by people of African descent. On view now through September 23, 2012, Collective Memories will explore how societal ideas about race and culture are created, distributed, and maintained historically to form an understanding of what is African American.

This exhibition is organized thematically around three topics: people, places, and things. Drawing from the Amistad Center’s permanent collection, it features art, artifacts, manuscripts, documents, and ephemera from the 17th to the early 20th century.

“A broad range of material is presented including maps, mass manufactured products, folk art, and toys,” said Alona Wilson, Assistant Director & Curator of the Amistad Center. “This exhibition is organized thematically with emphasis on the 19th and early 20th centuries to structure one’s understanding of African American lives based on visual images from different sources.”

The topic, “People,” will focus on the role of African Americans in photography both as clients and studio proprietors. Several African American photographers flourished in the 19th century practice of creating indelible imprints of people of African, European and Native American ancestry. Theseportraits point to the popularity and accessibility of photography for African Americans.

The section, ”Places,” will feature objects from the 19th century through the early 20th century related to work, home andworship in the United States. Paintings, photographs, travel souvenirs and other items will serve as reminders of historical events and renderings of everyday life for African Americans in rural and urban communities.

The final theme, ”Things,” will showcase possessions of everyday life such as documents, manuscripts and manufactured products, which will help identify some of the daily routines that influenced social and cultural values in the United States. Historical items from times of slavery will also be on view,including shackles and a print from 1836, which depicts slaves fitted tightly into the hull of the Brookes cargo ship. The multiplicity of images and mediums in this exhibition, which also includes stereotypical material, demonstrates the complicated political history of African American lives and conditions of enslavement.

The second anniversary exhibition, Contemporary Memories, is slated to open October 27, 2012 and run through April 14, 2013 and will feature the Amistad Center’s permanent collection dated from 1940 - present.

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