One exhibit takes you through the life of abolitionist John Brown. The other takes you on a journey through the depths of color and shapes.
Works from Jacob Lawrence and Felrath Hines, contemporary artists influential in the black art community in the 20th century, are on display now in the Ackland Art Museum today through May 9.
Lawrence’s display shows his take on Brown, the abolitionist most famous for his raid of Harpers Ferry.
Lawrence, regarded as a seminal black artist of the 20th century, portrays this series in his traditional style, characterized by bright fields of colors and recurring silhouettes, said Carolyn Allmendinger, director of academic programs and curator of this exhibit.
Lawrence first made a series of paintings about Brown in the 1940s, but when a museum wished to borrow them in the 1970s, the pictures were determined to be too fragile to travel. To allow more people to see the works, Lawrence translated the originals into a series of 22 silk screen prints produced in limited quantity.
The exhibit will also be paired with several public performances in the next few months, Allmendinger said.
“The story is still really an interesting one,” she said of Brown’s controversial history. “I think it’s going to raise some important questions that are meaningful whether you are studying it for history, for 20th century art history or thinking about larger kinds of moral and ethical issues.”