Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, and the Academy
Jan. 18 - May 19, 2007
Hale Woodruff (1900 – 1980) and Nancy Elizabeth Prophet (1890 – 1960) established the art programs in the Atlanta University Center in the 1930s. While Woodruff is widely recognized for originating the “Atlanta University Annual Exhibition of Painting, Sculpture and Prints by Negro Artists” — an art competition that lasted from 1942 to 1970 — his own artistic accomplishments have not been adequately examined.
Although Prophet created an impressive body of work (most of which are currently lost or destroyed) and was regarded as one of the most talented American sculptors by American and European critics alike in the late 1920s and 1930s, until this exhibition her work had never been the subject of an exhibition outside of her home state of Rhode Island. Additionally, the exhibition presented all extant sculptures by Prophet for the first time. Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet and the Academy brought the lives, efforts, and work Woodruff and Prophet into a critical dialogue for the first time.
Despite segregation, Woodruff and Prophet created one of the premiere institutions for art instruction for African-Americans. Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet and the Academy positioned Woodruff and Prophet as the artist-educators and institution builders who challenged and transformed the existing academic structure and art offerings for African-Americans.