Murals to be presented at African American Museum in Dallas
First Time Murals Will Ever Leave Talladega College
“Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College” Will Provide Fresh Look at Murals Depicting Key Moments in African American History
The Talladega murals (http://amistadmurals.com), which are considered among Woodruff’s greatest achievements, have undergone conservation at the Atlanta Art Conservation Center under the auspices of the High Museum of Art. “Rising Up: Hale Wood-ruff’s Murals at Talladega College” will be on view at the African American Museum in Dallas, October 6, 2012 – February 28, 2013.
Comprising six monumental canvases arranged in two cycles of three, the vibrant murals portray heroic efforts to resist slavery as well as moments in the history of the college, which opened in 1867 to serve the educational needs of a new population of freed slaves. The first cycle depicts the uprising on the slave ship La Amistad, the trial that followed and the subsequent freedom and return to Africa of the captives on that ship. The companion murals show themes of the Underground Railroad, the founding of Talladega College and the construction of Savery Library, for which the murals were commissioned. The restoration process will address the effects of aging on the works. The exhibition at the High Museum of Art will include works that span Woodruff’s career, with a particular focus on his important work as a muralist. In addition to the Talladega murals and studies, this exhibition will feature examples of Woodruff’s other mural commissions as well as smaller-scale paintings he made while in Mexico, where he went in 1936 to study mural painting with Diego Rivera. The project also explores Woodruff’s impact on the arts and the opportunities he provided for artists of color in his role as the first chair of the newly established art department of Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) from 1931 to 1946.
The exhibition project is accompanied by a catalogue that includes essays on the artist, the murals, Talladega College and American mural painting in the decades surrounding the Talladega project. A descriptive photo essay on the findings of the conservation work is also featured. After the murals are exhibited nationally, they will return to Talladega College in 2015.
“Exhibiting these murals holds a particular relevance for the people of Texas,” said Dr. Harry Robinson, Jr., President/CEO of the African American Museum in Dallas. “Hale Woodruff was one of the artists who exhibited in the Hall of Negro Life at the Texas Centennial State Fair in 1936. The African American Museum currently occupies the site where the Hall of Negro Life stood.
Hale Aspacio Woodruff Hale Aspacio Woodruff (1900–1980) was born in Cairo, Illinois. He studied art at both the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis and the Fogg Museum of Harvard University. Woodruff contributed to the development of African Ameri-can art not only as an artist, but also as a distinguished arts educator. Woodruff’s first mural project was a collaboration with Wilmer Jennings in 1934. The four-panel mural, titled “The Negro in Modern American Life: Agriculture and Rural Life; Literature, Music, and Art,” was part of a public works project and a teaching project that involved both Wood-ruff’s students and a local junior high school. In 1935, Woodruff worked on Works Progress Administration (WPA) mu-rals for the Atlanta School of Social Work. Between 1931 and 1946, he served as the first chair of the newly established art department of Atlanta University. During the summer of 1936, Woodruff studied mural painting in Mexico under the mentorship of Diego Rivera. In 1946, he became a teacher at New York University, where he taught art for more than 20 years until his retirement in 1968. During the mid-1960s Woodruff and fellow artist Romare Bearden were instrumen-tal in starting the Spiral Group, a collaboration of African American artists working in New York. The Studio Museum in Harlem presented a retrospective of his work titled “Hale Woodruff: 50 Years of His Art” in 1979, and the High pre-sented “Hale Woodruff in Atlanta” in 2004, the first solo exhibition of Woodruff’s paintings in Atlanta since his death in 1980.
Exhibition Organization and Support
“Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College” is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, in partnership with Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama. This exhibition is made possible by generous support from American Express. The conservation project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art, founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 12,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th and 20th century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and Afri-can art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the only major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. The High’s media arts department produces acclaimed annual film series and festivals of foreign, independent and classic cinema. In November 2005, the High opened three new buildings by architect Renzo Piano that more than doubled the Museum’s size, creating a vibrant “village for the arts” at the Woodruff Arts Center in midtown Atlanta. For more information about the High, please visit www.high.org.
The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is ranked among the top four arts centers in the nation. The Woodruff is unique in that it
combines four visual and performing arts divisions on one campus as one not-for-profit organization. Opened in 1968, the Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. To learn more about the Woodruff Arts Center, please visit www.woodruffcenter.org.
About the African American Museum
The African American Museum is an institution dedicated to the research, identification, selection, acquisition,
presentation, and preservation of visual art forms and historical documents that relate to the African American commu-nity. The Collections of the museum combined with its related activities serve to assist all people to understand the African American experience. The African American Museum is the only museum of its kind in the Southwestern region of the United States. As a repository of the African American experience we affirm the following purposes: To be a living cultural institution that presents and interprets the diversity of enrichment of the African Ameri-can community.
To be a museum of history, which seeks to cultivate preserve and tell the story of growth, development, and contribution of the African American community to the American life.
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