Montclair Art Museum and African American Cultural Committee announce Debra Cartwright as first AACC Founders Fellow
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Montclair Art Museum and African American Cultural Committee announce Debra Cartwright as first AACC Founders Fellow
Debra Cartwright, detail of "Conspicuous Ensemble". Oil on canvas.

MONTCLAIR, NJ.- The Montclair Art Museum and the African American Cultural Committee (AACC) have announced that Debra Cartwright is the recipient of the inaugural AACC Founders Fellowship. The fellowship will be in effect from September 2023 to June 2024, during which time Ms. Cartwright will actively engage with the Museum's audience, staff, and artist community in collaboration with the AACC.

The AACC, established in the 1980s, aims to sustain and maintain the legacy of artists from the African diaspora. To honor the founding members of the AACC, the Founders Fellowship is bestowed upon a recent African American graduate of master's or doctoral programs in the visual arts and/or art history. The fellowship provides the selected Fellow with a unique opportunity to expand their artistic practice, gain valuable experience working closely with a leading American art museum, engage with diverse audiences and the artist community, and support the AACC's work as a bridge between the Museum and the African American community, as well as a promoter of emerging artists. Activities involved in the fellowship include attending AACC meetings, delivering a lecture on topics related to the Fellow's art practice or research, teaching a workshop at the Museum's Yard School of Art, meeting with the Museum's Chief Curator, and participating in the Museum's Art Committee meetings.

Ms. Cartwright, a 2020 graduate of the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, holds an MFA degree. She also earned a BA in Art History from the University of Virginia and an AA in Communication Design from Parsons School of Design. Her artwork has been exhibited throughout the Northeast, as well as in Stockholm, London, and Berlin.

As primarily a painter, Debra Cartwright explores the historical connection between gynecology and its impact on Black women in America, shedding light on disparities in maternal mortality. She draws parallels between landscape painting and its representation of land use to highlight the exploitation of Black women's bodies in medical experiments. In addition to her artistic pursuits, Debra is a dedicated educator, teaching painting at Mason Gross. Her work will be showcased at the Museum in 2024.

Regarding the Fellowship, Debra stated, "As an artist driven by research and a passion for community impact, I am honored to be awarded this fellowship, for it is through the collective efforts of artists and museums that thoughts are challenged, growth is nurtured, and history finds its rightful place in the hearts and minds of our communities."

William S. Jiggetts, President of the AACC, said, "The AACC is proud to be able to offer this fellowship, honoring the founders of our organization and supporting the career of a talented African American artist."

Ira Wagner, Executive Director of the Museum, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, "We are thrilled that Debra will be the initial Founders Fellow. She examines meaningful issues through her expressive paintings and is an engaging teacher. I am excited about how the Fellowship can help advance her promising career as an artist and look forward to introducing her to the MAM community."

About the Montclair Art Museum (MAM)

The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) boasts a renowned collection of American and Native American art that uniquely highlights art-making in the United States over the last 300 years. Works in MAM's Native American art collection span the period of ca. 1200 C.E. to the present day. The Vance Wall Art Education Center encompasses the Museum’s educational efforts, including award-winning Yard School of Art studio classes, lectures and talks, family events, tours, and the mobile MAM Art Truck. MAM exhibitions and programs serve a wide public of all ages, from families and seniors to artists, educators, and scholars.

All MAM programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Vance Wall Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and Museum members.

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