News Release: Arts and Humanities, Events, Student Life

Feb. 8,  2011

African American Artists' Portraits, Documents Featured in MARBL Exhibit

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African American artists ranging from Langston Hughes to Marian Anderson are part of a new exhibit,  “Portrait & Text: African American Artists of Dance, Music, and the Written Word,” at Emory University’s  Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL).

The exhibition, on view now through June 30 on Level 10 of Emory’s Woodruff Library, is curated by Randall K. Burkett, curator of MARBL’s African American collections, and Kelly Erby, a visiting lecturer at Georgia State University who recently earned her doctorate in history at Emory.

An opening reception will be held Tuesday, Feb. 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in MARBL’s Woodruff Room. The event will include refreshments and a short performance by senior Garrett Turner, a music and creative writing major who will debut his own original theatrical production about Langston Hughes Feb. 11 and 12, based on his research from MARBL materials.

Portraits by Harlem arts patron and photographer Carl Van Vechten and from MARBL’s extensive African American collection are paired with original documents from MARBL collections. Twenty-one artists are featured, including writers Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright; entertainer Harry Belafonte, opera singer Marian Anderson, dancers Carmen de Lavallade and Pearl Primus, poet Countee Cullen, and singer/dancer Josephine Baker.

“Our goal was to use these photographs to showcase the range of MARBL’s holdings in African American literature, arts, dance, and music,” co-curator Burkett says.

The exhibition includes correspondence, movie house lobby cards, concert posters and programs and book inscriptions. Collaborations and friendships are apparent through letters, inscriptions in books, and other materials throughout the exhibition. “All of these artists are interacting with one another on a whole range of political and cultural and artistic endeavors,” Burkett says.

A kiosk in the exhibit allows visitors to click on an image of one of the artists, and the database will pull up every MARBL collection that contains material pertaining to that individual. “People will not only see some original materials, but they will also be able to go to the online finding aids and see exactly what collections have what kinds of materials,” Burkett says.

Exhibition location: MARBL, Level 10, Robert W. Woodruff Library, 540 Asbury Circle, Atlanta, GA 30322. Free and open to the public during regular MARBL hours.

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