Wright Museum - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Letter from the President, October 2017

Over the past three months, The Wright Museum has been filled with contemplation, commemoration, and celebration. From Say It Loud: Art, History, Rebellion, our 50th anniversary exhibition on the 1967 Detroit Rebellion, to the 35th annual African World Festival, the museum and its programming has been a centerpiece of our community. 

As we look back, it's important to recognize The Wright Museum is one of many institutions across the country that arose from the Civil Rights Movement. These organizations were created to help shape the changes taking place in our society, and provide agency in the battle against racism, segregation, and inequality. 

How radical an idea this was – museums founded by and for the people in the communities they served. These were living entities, providing the common person the words and images necessary to articulate their present-day needs. The Black Museum Movement was as much about storytelling as institution-building, and giving voice to the hopes and dreams, past, present and future, of the community. 

As Earl Moore, a former trustee for Chicago's DuSable Museum of African American History put it, "Most [museums] were endowed with money. Our institution was endowed with blood, sweat, and tears." 

As stewards of this great institution founded by Dr. Charles Wright, it's our continuing duty to contemplate, commemorate, and celebrate the blood, sweat and tears this museum has been endowed with. Each of us are bricks in the wall of this edifice that amplifies our stories for future generations. And we see this institutional relevance vindicated today in the way museums as a whole are moving towards embodying a community-centric focus. 

As we enter the final months of the year, it's fitting to take a deeper look at the world around us. I encourage everyone to take a second (and third) look at Say It Loud: Art, History, Rebellion, to revisit And Still We Rise, and to peruse our upcoming calendar of events. There's always something, whether a particular brushstroke or historical footnote, that can take us deeper into an artwork or provide a more nuanced understanding of an important moment in time. These experiences help feed our ever-present need of context for what's meaningful in our lives by illuminating our shared travails and triumphs. 

Through shared experience, The Wright Museum brings communities together – in dialogue, in communion, and in unity. In this, we create community, a commodity desperately in need. In 2017, it's readily apparent that change is still needed. In the face of continuing injustice and inequality, the radical empowerment of people engendered by the Black Museum Movement remains relevant today. It's our role to empower one another to continue moving towards the vision this country was founded upon. As Langston Hughes wrote in "Let America Be America Again:" 

O, let America be America again - 
The land that never has been yet -
And yet must be - the land where every man is free. 

Juanita Moore,
President & CEO

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Nikia Washington

PR & Social Media Manager

313.494.5866 | nwashington@thewright.org

Aboriginal Australian art featured in exhibit and upcoming gallery talk with collector Dennis Scholl

February 2, 2016 | Detroit - The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is currently featuring the national traveling exhibition, No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Painting, which is on display through May 15, 2016. As a special introduction to the exhibit, Dennis Scholl, former V.P. of Arts and Miami Program Director at the Knight Foundation, will give a free gallery talk Wednesday, February 17, 2016, at which he will discuss his collection of Aboriginal works from which the exhibition is drawn.

The Wright Museum is the fourth of six stops on the exhibit's tour, which began at the Nevada Art Museum in February of 2015; No Boundaries was on exhibition at the Pérez Art Museum during Miami's 2015 Art Basel.

"[The Wright Museum] is a particularly special venue for us for this show. It is traveling to six different museums around the country, but this one is near and dear to our heart for a lot of reasons," said Dennis Scholl. "It allows us to put together three things that I care about deeply: aboriginal art, Detroit, and this institution."

Over the past year, the exhibition has received accolades from The New York Times, Miami Herald, and Huffington Post.

"It is an extreme honor to host the beautiful, awe-inspiring collection of Debra and Dennis as they share their treasure with Detroit," said Juanita Moore, president & CEO of The Wright Museum. "We look forward to all of the faces, new and old, that will experience this exhibition and how they will be moved."

The public is invited to an intimate gallery talk Wednesday, February 17 at 6 PM with Dennis Scholl who, along with his wife Debra, have built one of the most extensive collections of Aboriginal art in the world. Dennis served as Knight Foundation vice president for arts for six years and introduced the Knight Arts Challenge before he stepped down in May of last year. The gallery talk takes place at The Wright Museum and is free and open to the public. RSVP to rsvp@thewright.org.

Exhibition access during normal museum hours is included with museum admission: $8 for adults (ages 13-61), $5 for seniors (62+) and youth ages (3-12), and free for museum members and children less than 3. The exhibit is accompanied by a 175-page No Boundaries catalogue available for purchase in the Museum gift shop. The exhibit will remain on display through May 15, 2016.

About No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Painting

No Boundaries is comprised of the work of nine Aboriginal trailblazing artists who were inspired by their ancient cultural traditions to forge one of the most dynamic painting movements of recent times. The paintings on display were created between 1992 and 2012. These nine men were at the forefront of the extraordinary experimentation and innovation in the Australian Aboriginal contemporary art movement.

One of the artists included in the exhibition is Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri (born circa 1958), whose work was included in dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany in 2012. This was a highpoint in Tjapaltjarri's career, which began in 1986, only a few short years after making international headlines as a member of the "Pintupi Nine:" one of the last groups of nomadic Aboriginal tribes to emerge from Australia's Western Desert. Tjapaltjarri's work will be shown alongside the renowned artists Paddy Bedford (c.1922–2007), Jananggoo Butcher Cherel (c.1918–2009), Tommy Mitchell (c.1943-2013), Ngarra (c.1920-2008), Prince of Wales (Midpul)(c.1938-2002), Billy Joongoora Thomas (c.1920-2012), Boxer Milner Tjampitjin (c.1935-2009) and Tjumpo Tjapanangka (c.1929-2007).

No Boundaries originated at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada and was organized by William Fox, Director, Center for Art and Environment, and scholar Henry Skerritt.

About the Collectors: Debra and Dennis Scholl

The works are drawn from the collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl, Miami-based collectors and philanthropists. After four decades of collecting cutting-edge contemporary art, Debra and Dennis Scholl changed their focus to Aboriginal contemporary art after encountering the extraordinary wealth of talent emerging from Northern Australia during several trips to that country. "The artists all have a common thread," said Dennis Scholl, "each had reached senior status in their communities and had become abstract painters who transcended the expectations of both the community and the art world."

Debra is an attorney in Miami, Florida. Dennis, in addition to his decades of involvement with the arts, is also a three-time regional Emmy nominee; he wrote and co-produced a short film "Sunday's Best" that recently won the Emmy Award, and was accepted by the Aspen Shortfest and the Miami International Film Festival. The couple has had a long involvement in philanthropy in the visual arts. They currently reside in Miami Beach, Florida.

About the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Founded in 1965 and located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit's Cultural Center, The Wright Museum is the world's largest institution dedicated to the African American experience. For more information, please visit TheWright.org.


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