Point of View is the main title for two exhibitions and a catalogue, all drawn from the impressive African American and African Diaspora art collection of Elliot and Kimberly Perry. The exhibitions and catalogue are the result of a three-way partnership between Elliot and Kimberly Perry, the Flint Institute of Arts, and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Each has a distinct subtitle:
• Point of View: African American Masters from the Elliot and Kimberly Perry Collection – the Detroit exhibition
• Point of View: Contemporary African American Art from the Elliott and Kimberly Perry Collection – the Flint exhibition
• Point of View: African American Art from the Elliot and Kimberly Perry Collection – the Catalogue title
The Wright Museum will feature works by modern masters such as Henry Ossawa Tanner, Eldzier Cortor, Elizabeth Catlett, James Van Der Zee, and many others. In correlation with “Masterworks,” the catalogue essay written by Jacqueline Francis, Ph.D., the exhibition will be divided into three sections: “The ‘New Negro’ Artists,” “The “Negro Renaissance” Generation,” and “Realism and New Realities.”
Francis provides a chronology of the works in the collection, and presents exciting points of view seldom discussed about African American art and culture. For example, few people are aware that what became known as the Harlem Renaissance was first called "the Negro Renaissance." Francis also notes that African Americans have always created works in many genres ranging from realism and abstract paintings, to photography, sculpture and much more. The Perry’s collection provides an opportunity for that instructive perspective.
In her essay, Francis reveals another seldom discussed reality – that African Americans are benefactors of the arts. She writes, “The Elliot and Kimberly Perry Collection reflects the vision of patrons committed to sharing the rich history and expressive culture of African Americans with the general public.” While this statement is certainly true about the Perry’s, it is also true about African Americans who support the arts by purchasing works and exhibiting them in their homes and cultural institutions, where viewers who may not have the means to collect such works can be exposed to and enjoy them.
Elliot Perry, a former professional basketball player and Memphis native, started to collect mid-to late 20th century African American art with his wife Kimberly in 1996. Perry has said that his passion for art now rivals his love for basketball. He credits Walter Evans and Darrell Walker with inspiring him to become a collector. For each of these men, collecting works of art is more than just accumulating random pieces; their objective is focused on preserving slices of African American history and culture through the arts.
Contemporary works from the Perry Collection will be on display at the Flint Institute of Arts (http://www.flintarts.org) during the same time that the modern masterworks are on view at The Wright Museum. This collaboration will allow visitors to see both exhibitions with the purchase of one ticket.
Point of View: African American Masters from the Elliot and Kimberly Perry Collection opens January 20, 2014, and remains on display through April 20. The exhibition is free with museum admission. Purchase of admission to either the Detroit or Flint exhibit entitles purchaser with proof of purchase to admission at the partner institution during the exhibition period. For more information call (313) 494-5800. The exhibit is made possible by the support of the DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, the Kresge Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the women of The Wright Gala host committee.