Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Soul Looks Back and Wonders: The Black Experience in Illustration, 1773-2010

My Soul Looks Back and Wonders is an exhibit highlighting the long and varied contributions of African American illustrators to the field of art for the printed page. In the 1600's African Americans arrived on the shores of America as slaves. This is where our exhibit begins, with the cover art for the first book written by a slave, Phillis Wheatley, and illustrated by a slave, Scipio Moorhead in 1773.

The exhibit is intended to introduce and educate people to the incredible variety found in the art of illustration, everything from books to record albums to advertisements, works for newspapers and magazines; and to document how the art of the African American illustrators followed the arc of American history. For example Patrick Henry Reason created covers for Abolitionist booklets and pamphlets; Henry Jackson Lewis was the first African American political cartoonist in the 1800s.

Divided into four historical periods, the exhibit will include text panels that illuminate the historical contexts in which the works were created.

1773 to the 1920s
1920s -1950s Harlem Renaissance
1960's -1970's
1980's -Today

In the Sept. of 2010 the Society of Illustrators will mount a six-week exhibition of African American Illustrators.

I'm thrilled, honored, humbled . . . and just plain lucky to be included.

Here are a few other names that I know of who will exhibit*:

Henry Jackson Lewis
Scipio Moorhead
Patrick Henry Reason

1920's-50's (Harlem Renaissance)
John Henry Adams
Elmer Simms Campbell
Ernest Crichlow
Alan Rohan Crite
Aaron Douglas
Elton Fax
Oliver Wendell Harrington
Lois Mailou Jones
Jackie Ormes
Albert Alexander Smith
Mozelle Thompson
James Lesesne Wells
Laura Wheeler
Hilda Rue Wilkerson

Pedro Bell
Mal Cann
Donald Crews
Leo and Diane Dillon
Tom Feelings
George Ford
Del Harris
Roy laGrone
Charles Lilly
Don Miller
Fred Pfeiffer
Jerry Pinkney
Ivan Powell
Reynold Ruffins
John Steptoe
Nancy Toleson

Gil Ashby
Thomas Blackshear
Barbara Higgins Bond
Colin Bootman
Alex Bostic
Ashley Bryan
Bradford Brown
Elbrite Brown
Yvonne Buchanan
Carole Byard
Gregory Christie
Bryan Collier
Floyd Cooper
Nina Crews
Pat Cummings
Shane Evans
Jan Spivey Gilchrist
Cheryl Hannah
James Hoston
Leonard Jenkins
Joel Peter Johnson
E. B. Lewis
Kadir Nelson
Overton Loyd
Aaron McGruder
Chris Myers
Gerald Pernell
Robin Phillip Pendelton
Brian Pinkney
James Ransome
Anna Rich
Faith Ringgold
Aminah Robinson
Synthia St. James
Javaka Steptoe
Jean Pierre Targete
Don Tate
Toni Taylor
Mike Thompson
Ezra Tucker
Cornelius Van Wright
Eric Velasquez
Eric Wilkerson

*This list may or may not be conclusive.


shadrieka said...

Wow, this looks awesome. I hope there's a book to accompany the exhibit.

Julie said...

Do you have any more information about this exhibition, My Soul Looks Back? It sounds wonderful and I would love to see it, however, I've contacted the Society of Illustrators in NY and they have not heard of it. Thanks! Julie

Anonymous said...


I was contacted by James Ransome. But the show was put on hold for many reasons. I'm told it will be on again next year, but I haven't heard anything as of yet. Bummer, I know.