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Friday, September 22, 2023

At the Weatherspoon : Pioneering African American Artists

Paintings by Dr. N. Frank Woods Jr., Now through Aug. 12 / August 11, 2023

Lois Mailou Jones, 2017. Acrylic on canvas board, 12 x 9 in. Courtesy of the artist N. Frank Woods Jr.

Throughout his distinguished career at UNCG, Dr. Frank Woods Jr. worked tirelessly to redeem the memories of African American creatives who had long faded from our nation’s cultural memory. His desire to illuminate their significant contributions to art, film, and music and to advance their legacy is the impetus behind this exhibition.

In his artist statement, Dr. Woods shares that despite a conventional liberal arts education, he remained woefully unaware of the existence and contributions of African American artists to American culture: “I decided to continue my education with the intention of reclaiming ‘ancestral legacies’ pertaining to African American visual culture … I have enjoyed a successful and rewarding career as an art historian who has researched and taught the triumphs and tragedies of what it has meant to be a Black artist in America. As part of that process, I chose to paint portraits of several of my ‘artist heroes,’ knowing that I, in a very modest way, stand on the shoulders of their pioneering efforts. Initially, these paintings were for my personal gratification as small tributes and a way to help me to hone my portrait-painting skills. But as their numbers grew, I realized that they formed a unique collection of visual ‘memories,’ and I am honored to now share them publicly.”

Dr. Woods is an emeritus professor of the African American and African Diaspora Studies Program at UNCG, which he directed from 1994 to 2008. He received his BFA at UNC Chapel Hill, his MFA in studio arts at UNCG, and his Ph.D. in art history from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Organized by Elaine D. Gustafson, curator and head of collections and facilities.


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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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