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ATLANTA (Aug. 24, 2011) The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, the only museum in the nation that emphasizes art by and about women of the African Diaspora, will celebrate its 15th anniversary with the launch of the 15 x 15 Acquisitions Initiative on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. The exhibition is on view through Dec. 3, 2011.

The Museum’s 15 x 15 Acquisitions Initiative is a three-part project that involves:

  • acquiring works by 15 emerging, mid-career and established artists
  • an exhibition, “15 x 15: The 15th Anniversary Acquisitions Exhibition,” presenting the 15 soon to be acquired works alongside works by celebrated artists including Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, and Hale Woodruff, which have been in Spelman College’s collection for decades
  • a catalogue to be created with the involvement of scholars, faculty and students

The 15 x 15 Acquisitions Initiative was carefully crafted over the course of more than a year and has been developed in direct response to previous exhibition projects. It creates a context for the College’s past, present and future collecting efforts, and honors the Museum’s unique emphasis on art by and about women of the African Diaspora.

Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, director of the Museum explained, “This anniversary initiative punctuates the Museum’s special milestone in a deliberate and methodical way. By working with friends and supporters to acquire a range of important works by 15 Black women artists, the Museum will stimulate the growth of College’s permanent holdings and expand the Museum’s emphasis on Black women artists in meaningful, tangible ways.”

A varied calendar of events is scheduled in conjunction with the 15th anniversary and acquisitions initiative, beginning with Fête: The Official Launch Party for 15 x 15 on Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. This celebration features an exclusive musical experience with internationally-acclaimed DJ Kai Alcé.

The Museum was established in 1996 with major financial support from Drs. Bill and Camille Cosby through the Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation. This gift set the stage for the next phase of the College’s visual arts evolution and was also a charge for Spelman to make a significant impact on the field. The Museum has since been recognized for its visionary leadership and for expanding exhibition offerings in Atlanta, the region and internationally.

The artists selected for acquisition are referred to as The Fifteen. The Museum is calling upon the generosity of Friends of the Museum—both old and new—to acquire works by 15 artists. The artists were selected based on their inclusion in previous exhibitions at the Museum as well as responses their work garnered from students, the campus community, visitors and critical exhibition reviews. This acquisitions initiative is the genesis of growing a permanent collection focused on the Museum’s mission to emphasize works by and about women of the African Diaspora. The Fifteen are Sheila Pree Bright, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Renée Cox, Lalla Essaydi, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Myra Greene, IngridMwangiRobertHutter, Lauren Kelley, Marcia Kure, Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry, Nandipha Mntambo, Lorraine O’Grady, Howardena Pindell, Lorna Simpson and Carrie Mae Weems.

By adding The Fifteen through the 15 x 15 Acquisitions Initiative, the Museum will expand Spelman College’s permanent collection. This acquisitions effort is part of a longstanding tradition began by Donald Stewart, the sixth president of Spelman College, who made it a priority to purchase works by Black women artists beginning in 1983. The College has acquired works by a number of artists including Betty Blayton, Elizabeth Catlett, Lucille Malkia Roberts, Betye Saar, and Claudia Widdis since Stewart’s call to action 28 years ago.

Spelman College has encouraged the creation, examination, and contemplation of visual objects in the classroom since its founding in 1881. The 15 x 15 Acquisitions Initiative celebrates the College’s evolution, which spans from using stuffed birds in the classroom at the turn of the 20th century, to presenting works by Black women artists that are internationally recognized. Over the course of more than 130 years, Spelman has consistently demonstrated traits that signal its commitment to visual art. “15 x 15: The 15th Anniversary Acquisitions Exhibition” champions the College’s rich visual arts legacy and highlights practices such as its involvement in establishing the Coordinated Art Program, the institution’s central role in inaugurating the Atlanta Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, making visual art a central component of a liberal arts education, hosting artists in residence, and being led by a series of College presidents who encourage the discussion, viewing, and purchasing of art by Black women artists.

All of the soon to be acquired works on the 15 x 15 wish list as well as works by artists such as Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Hale Woodruff, which have been part of Spelman’s holdings for some time, will be paired with more recent acquisitions by artists including Amalia Amaki, iona rozeal brown and Nancy Elizabeth Prophet. They will be presented to amplify the prominent links between them. “15 x 15” features The Fifteen, provides a survey of the College’s collecting, and signals the future growth of Spelman’s permanent holdings.

“15 x 15: The 15th Anniversary Acquisitions Exhibition” will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated scholarly catalogue with contributions by faculty, students and scholars, and will be available in spring 2012. The publication will be the first to focus exclusively on Spelman College’s permanent collection.

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011, 7 p.m.
Fête: The Official Launch Party for 15 x 15 featuring a musical experience by DJ Kai Alcé.

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, 4 p.m.
Jazz at the Museum,” an exclusive event with the celebrated jazz quartet Joe Jennings and Forward Motion.

Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011, 7 p.m.
ART PAPERS LIVE! The Contemporary Art Lecture Series Presents Zineb Sedira in partnership with ART PAPERS magazine and Atlanta Celebrates Photography.

Other 15 x 15 exhibition-related programs to include gallery walks, Beyond the Blackboard: Community Day, open-class sessions and mixers.

To learn more about the 15 x 15 Acquisitions Initiative, please visit spelmanmuseum.org. To interact and receive the latest Museum news, follow the Museum on facebook.com/spelmanmuseum, spelmanmuseum.tumblr.com, and twitter.com/spelmanmuseum. Once you arrive at the Museum, please check in at foursquare.

The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is located in the Atlanta University Center on the Spelman College campus in the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Academic Center at 350 Spelman Lane.

The Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. The Museum is closed Sundays, Mondays, major holidays and official College breaks.

The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is the only museum in the nation that focuses on art by and about women of the African Diaspora. Since it was established in 1996, the Museum has organized several contemporary art exhibitions such as “iona rozeal brown: a³. . .black on both sides” (2004), “María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Dreaming of an Island” (2007), “Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970” (2007), and “Undercover: Performing and Transforming Black Female Identities” (2009) that have garnered critical and popular attention. Like the aforementioned projects, “15 x 15: The 15th Anniversary Acquisitions Exhibition” promises to build upon the Museum’s impressive track record of organizing first-rate, mission-specific exhibitions that expand the contemporary art offerings in Atlanta and the region exponentially. For more information, visit www.spelman.edu/museum.


About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a highly selective, liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, Ga., the college’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Outstanding alumnae include Children's Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman; Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer; JPMorgan Chase Foundation President Kimberly Davis; former acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley; Harvard College Dean Evelyn Hammonds; author Pearl Cleage; and actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson. For more information, visit www.spelman.edu.

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