Monday, August 2, 2010

Quilt Motif for Architecture of Harvey B Gantt African American Art Center

DH and I went to the Harvey B Gantt African-American Art Center yesterday and were mesmerized.

The architect used the patchwork quilt to develop the architectural motif for both inside and outside of the building. This is a small cultural and art center by US standards, but very user friendly for seeing the work in an afternoon.
There are three galleries in the building. One is devoted to the John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art collected by a couple over decades and purchased by the Bank of America and donated to the AA Center.

While all the art in collection was well worth seeing, we found several pieces in this collection that were stunning. I especially loved a piece called
The Sisters by Ernest Crichlow (1914 - 2005). The gray, black and white graphic design consisted of angularity throughout except for profiles and hands. The piece consisted of 4 women in a building and garden in white head dresses, and gray and white uniforms. Three of the women were holding their hands behind their backs and the expressiveness in the bodies, the arch of neck, tilt of head, angle of shoulders gave very distinct personalities to each of the women. It is amazing how much was conveyed with such economy of color and and detail.

In addition to the permanent collection, there were two other exhibitions that were very strong. One exhibit,
Romancing the Eye, had a series of delicate, strong wooden bowls, boxes and vases that were exquisite. The artist, Charles Farrar, is from Concord NC. I look forward to seeing more of his work.

The other gallery contained a solo show: Spirits & Spaces by Michael B. Platt, this exhibition is a delight especially for those interested in fiber.

Platt is a print maker, many pieces were printed in editions of 3 and gallery wrapped. Using photograhy in layers, his work was evocative and story telling. In the center of the gallery, he built a "shot gun" house, and a woman's shape was printed on thin gauze and hung in the door. Behind the house were 5 panels again printed on gauze. The combination provided a narrative for the viewer that the viewer and artist were jointly involved in telling and remembering. I will look for more of his work.