University Galleries presents “The Beauty Within: African American Art from the Permanent Art Collection”

Dasia Williams, Contributor

Capturing beauty within Black art, the University Galleries at N.C. A&T hosts the fine art exhibition “The Beauty Within: African American Art from the Permanent Art Collection.” 

Paul Baker, the former Director of the University Galleries, collected and set up the exhibit himself. Every piece is a dedication to diversity in the Black community. 

Baker believes that each piece is committed to having true beauty be understood in every view. 

“This exhibition will show both the diversity in African American art as well as the permanent collection at the University Galleries,” Baker said. “It is essential for museums and galleries to showcase the power and purpose of Black art and material culture.”

The on-site exhibition features 15 works from notable artists such as Vandorn Hinnant, Alma Thomas and Norman Barbee that all portray the simplicity of Black art and the impact it has on understanding the meaning of true beauty. 

University Galleries Director Roy Carter believes this collection is for viewers who are not necessarily die-hard art people. He iterates that this exhibit is a perfect introduction to understanding how such active paintings embody creative expression. 

“Looking at an abstract piece in this collection is taking concepts unfamiliar and appreciating its beauty,” Carter said. “It’s not about the artists, it’s appreciating the beauty of an art piece that is far beyond recognition.” 

Students on campus appreciate how abstract pieces in the collection use particular shapes and colors to capture their emotions and spark a fond memory. 

Freshman criminal justice student, Kera Ridley, would agree that the curved lines in these pieces encourage participation from the viewer. 

Photo Courtesy of ncat.edu

“The piece ‘Journey to Muspell’ by Vandorn Hinnant, is my favorite because of the curved lines and colors,” Ridley said. “In art, curves typically represent a calm flow and yellow gives me a sense of warmth like when I visited a Black cultural hub in Los Angeles.”

The collection tells a narrative, using landscape paintings to depict the scenery of the natural world. Often in landscape art, the pieces do not contain a humanistic element, an element African Americans deem important in art. 

Sophomore computer graphics student, Jada Shepard, says that African American landscape art aims to capture a fleeting moment in time using detail. 

Photo Courtesy of ncat.edu

“The piece ‘Untitled Landscape’ by Charles Alston, is my favorite piece because it’s both detailed and reductive,” Shepard said. “I also have a fondness for southern landscape art, especially among Black artists.”

The exhibition will be on display through the middle of October at the University Galleries, in the Dudley building on N.C. A&T campus.

The gallery is free and open to the public Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment only on Saturdays. 

For more information about the new exhibition and about other exhibitions that are being shown, you may visit the University Galleries webpage.