Great American Artists is an exhibition of new figurative works by artists Christopher Batten, Endia Beal, Halima Cassells, Alonzo Edwards, Sydney James, Gregory Johnson, Richard Lewis, Mario Moore, Sabrina Nelson and Senghor Reid. Through a series of studio visits, collaborative meetings and documentation, these artists developed a consortium with two major goals in mind: to increase collaboration among artists in Detroit and to strengthen the network of artists who employ similar themes in their work. It was understood that they would continue to create amazing works of art that would engage and inspire their audiences.
This yearlong exhibition will feature their works in a three-part series. During the past several years, each artist has collaborated to complete a portrait of a group member and to document each other’s studio processes, techniques and themes. This cooperative provides the group a means of documenting and preserving each artist’s image and their careers.
In declaring themselves Great American Artists, they have set the bar high. The first installation in this yearlong exhibit features the art of Lewis, Nelson, and Johnson, and will be on exhibit January 12 - April 29, 2012.
• Richard Lewis graduated Cass Technical High School, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Center for Creative Studies (now College for Creative Studies), and attained a Master of Fine Arts from Yale School of Art. After returning to Detroit, he worked as a cab driver and taught African American Art History. He later served as an artist-in-residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem, and has taught drawing and painting at his alma mater CCS as well as at Marygrove College. Lewis, a realist artist, became the recipient of a Kresge Artistic Fellowship in 2011.
• Sabrina Nelson is a painter and mixed media artist who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Center for Creative Studies (now College for Creative Studies). Her modern expressionist works of art reflect her spirituality and her experiences living and growing up in Detroit. She says three strong black women raised her. Their words and deeds, along with the spirits of her ancestors, continue to guide her. Nelson serves as the Associate Director of Admission at CCS. She has also taught painting and drawing at the Detroit Institute of Arts and Blue Lake fine Arts Camp, and African American Art History at Oakland University.
• Gregory Johnson is a native of Georgia, who was raised in Detroit. He graduated Mackenzie High School and later earned his Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees from Bowling Green State University. Johnson taught for the Detroit Public School for 14 years. He is currently a Humanities Professor at Wayne County Community College District. Johnson’s artwork reveals a high-degree of realism and an appreciation for the environment. His preferred mediums include watercolor, colored pencils and oil paint. Johnson is a member of the National Conference of Artists.
This exhibition is organized and presented by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History’s Contemporary Artists Program.