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Artists Mildred Thompson and Theaster Gates Headline the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art 2019/2020 Exhibition Series Share a Spelman College Press Release

For Immediate Release

Media Contacts
Jazmyn D. Burton
Twitter: @SpelmanMedia

Wyatt Phillips
Twitter: @SpelmanMuseum

Spelman College Museum of Fine Art logoATLANTA (August 27, 2019) Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is proud to announce that it will launch its exhibition season with "Mildred Thompson: The Atlanta Years, 1986 – 2003," on view Wednesday, Sept. 11, through Saturday, Dec. 7.

“As the Museum races toward its 25th anniversary in 2021, it is focused on honoring its mission to inspire and enrich communities through art by and about women of the African Diaspora,” said Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., C’93, director of the Museum. “The upcoming exhibitions exemplify the Museum’s focus on presenting relevant exhibitions that excite and intrigue the Spelman College community and general audiences alike.

This original exhibition curated by Dr. Brownlee and Melissa Messina, curator of the Mildred Thompson Estate, is the artist’s first large-scale, interdisciplinary solo exhibition in the city.

Mildred Thompson Spelman Museum of Fine ArtsMildred Thompson “Magnetic Fields,” 1991 Oil on canvas. 70.5 x 150 inches. Courtesy the Estate of Mildred Thompson and Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

Thompson (b. Jacksonville, 1936 – 2003), an American abstract artist, spent much of her early career in Germany and France in response to the racial and gender discrimination she experienced in the United States.

In 1986, she accepted an invitation to be an artist-in-residence at Spelman. She spent the remainder of her life in Atlanta where her painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, writing and musical explorations expanded into the dynamic oeuvre for which she is now becoming acclaimed.

“The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is a remarkable and unique resource for the cultivation, exploration and celebration of art by Black women,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. “We are thrilled and deeply grateful for the opportunity to present the work of Mildred Thompson and Theaster Gates to visiting scholars, students, faculty and the arts community-at-large.”

Spring 2020
Theaster Gates: The Black Image Corporation January 28 – May 16, 2020

Isaac Sutton Courtesy Johnson Publishing CompanyThe 2019 – 2020 exhibition season will culminate with "Theaster Gates: The Black Image Corporation," on view Tuesday, January 28, through Saturday, May 16, 2020. "Theaster Gates: The Black Image Corporation" explores the legacy of the Johnson Publishing Company archive. Curated by artist Theaster Gates (b. Chicago, 1973), the exhibition features images by Moneta Sleet Jr. and Isaac Sutton, who were both photographers for the renowned Johnson Publishing Company, the media entity responsible for publishing Ebony and Jet Magazines. Gates reimagined and redeployed never-before-seen images of women from the company’s rich collection.

Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company, LLC. All rights reserved. Photo: Isaac Sutton

In this participatory exhibition, visitors will be encouraged to freely handle this extensive visual archive and invited to engage directly with these rich and varied representations depicting Black women in their everyday lives, historical moments and studio settings.

The Museum’s 2019 – 2020 exhibition season is made possible by the Wish Foundation and the LUBO Fund. Additional support provided by the Massey Charitable Trust.

For more information, visit or @spelmanmuseum on Instagram and Twitter.


Opening Program
Mildred Thompson Remembered
Wednesday, September 11, 2019, 6:30 p.m.
Please join us for a conversation with exhibition curators Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., director, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Melissa Messina, curator of the Mildred Thompson Estate, and Donna Jackson, Thompson’s partner of 17 years and executor of the Thompson Estate. Invited comments from artists, friends and colleagues, including Wes Cochran, Kerry Davis and Karen Comer Lowe, will enliven the conversation. A reception follows.

Register now at For more information about the Museum see

The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, which was established in 1996, inspires and enriches the Spelman College community and the general public primarily through art by women of the African Diaspora. In “Six Reasons to Love Atlanta,” praised the Museum for its “fantastically curated exhibitions.” As the Museum’s 25th anniversary approaches in 2021, it is even more focused on its priorities: continuing its legacy of presenting thought-provoking exhibitions such as "Amy Sherald" (organized by the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 2019), "PRESENCE: Meditations on the Spelman" College Collection (2019), "Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness"(organized by Autograph London and curated by Renée Mussai, 2018) and"Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi" (2018) that have garnered critical and popular attention; organizing dynamic and empowering programs; and expanding its relevant collection. The Museum’s milestones include being selected as the first institution from the United States that jointly, along with the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, represented the United States at the 2012 Havana Biennial in Havana, Cuba. In 2015, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Museum, in collaboration with the Department of Art & Visual Culture, launched a Curatorial Studies Program, a pilot initiative to prepare and develop the next generation of curators. With enthusiastic support from the Walton Family Foundation, this program has expanded and in 2018, Spelman College established the Atlanta University Center for the Study of Art History & Curatorial Studies, currently supported by the Alice L. Walton Foundation. For more information about the Museum, visit

About Spelman College 
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 51 among all liberal arts colleges and No. 1 among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit


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