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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

The culture of Within

The+top+floor+of+the+Richardson+Family+Art+Museum.+The+exhibition%2C+%E2%80%9CElevation+from+Within%3A+The+Study+of+Art+at+Historically+Black+Colleges+and+Universities%E2%80%9D+is+on+display+in+Wofford%E2%80%99s+on-campus+art+museum.+Photo+by+Paulina+Veremchuk
The top floor of the Richardson Family Art Museum. The exhibition, “Elevation from Within: The Study of Art at Historically Black Colleges and Universities” is on display in Wofford’s on-campus art museum. Photo by Paulina Veremchuk

A deep dive into the new “Elevation from Within” exhibit

As Wofford prepares for fall, the Johnson Collection has been able to bring a new exhibit to the Richardson Family Art Museum. The Art and Art History departments strive to implement a diverse collection of art to highlight people of different backgrounds. 

The Art and Art History departments, led by Youmi Efurd, museum curator, have been able to demonstrate this throughout the museum’s newest exhibit, “Elevation from Within: The Study of Art at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.” 

This exhibit is one that emphasizes the African American experience throughout history, using the work of revolutionary artists including Hale Woodruff, Mildred Thompson, Hayward Oubre, Aaron Douglas and other prestigious black artists.

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Curated by Dr. Leo Twiggs, there are 32 different pieces featured in this exhibit highlighting an eclectic variety of artists. This gallery is unique because it highlights Historically Black College and University (HBCU) alumni and professors whose life work has been dedicated to educating the public about the history of the United States. 

“The exhibition invites viewers to a room filled with rich black culture and history,” said  Solana Rostick ‘23, a museum attendant, when describing the experience of visiting the exhibit.

Through this, Wofford is able to tell a new story from a different perspective. The diverse combination of artists allows viewers to appreciate the different stylistic choices that are seen throughout the gallery. 

“The overall exhibit ranges from a mixture of contemporary abstract paintings to intricate colorful sculptures,” Rostick said. 

This can be seen through the strategic placement of pieces throughout the gallery. An example of this is William Cooper’s colorful painting, “The Bathing Girl,” which is placed next to the more muted linocut prints, such as Hale Woodruff’s “Sunday Promenade.”

The art has been placed strategically to highlight not only the different artists but the timeline that the art represents as well. 

When explaining the process of deciding how to place the art, Efurd said, “You have to decide, what is the most efficient way of presenting art you have? Chronology should be considered.” 

As a result, the viewer is able to work through the gallery and see how the stories and problems of black Americans have changed over the years. 

One of the most recent pieces in the museum is “Dangerous Places,” a piece made by Twiggs. In this, he is able to emphasize some of the current issues that America is facing, including the display of the Confederate flag.  

Another focal point of this exhibit is Mildred Thompson’s, “String Theory XI.” Placed strategically in the back of the gallery, this work surprises museum visitors with its vibrance and texture. 

Thompson combined sustainability and creativity to put this piece together. These attributes can be seen in many ways, but most prominently from Thompson’s ability to stretch a table cloth to use as her canvas. 

“(Thompson) was interested in physics and art and tried to combine those with really vibrant colors,” said Efurd. 

Thompson’s work gives the exhibit dimension that allows viewers to see different themes arise from the gallery. 

Twiggs’ curation of “Elevation from Within” has broken barriers and continues to educate the public about issues, both old and new, that are seen in our society. 

The exhibit is an opportunity for students to get out of their comfort zone and learn about artists from across the country, all on Wofford’s campus. For anyone wanting to tour the museum, the exhibit will be open until Dec. 15. 

To learn more, Scott-Felder, assistant professor of studio art, will be having a performance in the exhibit on Dec. 2, where she will also be able to answer questions from the public. 

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