Two new juxtaposing exhibitions on permanent display at Jepson Center provide diverse art forms
Museum exhibitions, Contemporary Spotlight: New Acquisitions from the Brandywine Workshop and Bruce Davidson: Face to Face, make themselves comfy for the long-ride as the Telfair Museums' Jepson Center's newest permanent exhibitions.
After making their debut in early-February, the two neighboring exhibitions serve as some of the first statements made in alignment with the Telfair’s renewed commitment to diversifying their collection and highlighting the work of under-represented artists and narratives.
Speaking first to the Contemporary Spotlight: New Acquisitions from the Brandywine Workshop, the exhibition is curated of lithographic prints by Black female artists and one native-Georgian male artist.
Anne-Solene Bayan, assistant curator at Telfair, who worked alongside Erin Dunn, curator of modern and contemporary art, said the 13 prints were acquired by the museum last year from the Brandywine Workshop and Archives (BWA). Founded in North Philadelphia in 1972, BWA is a self-described diversity-driven, non-profit cultural institution that produces and shares art to connect, inspire and build bridges among global communities.
Bayan also shared that a vision of the Brandywine Workshop was to bring the medium of lithography – which due to its requirement of costly machinery and access to higher levels of education was not widely accessible – to all artists regardless of their background.
“What’s remarkable is that most of these artists weren’t printmakers, primarily,” Bayan said. “They came from all backgrounds, and they worked with master printers at the workshop to fulfill their visions.”
The acquired prints in the fresh display of selections cover a wide range of timely themes, from socio-political issues, including the legacies of slavery and racism in the United States, gender, and education to ethereal topics such as spirituality and nature.
For example, one socio-political print titled "Miss Otis" by Emma Amos, an artist most known for mixed-media artwork including painting, textiles, and printmaking, speaks to the topic of women incarceration. "Miss Otis" tells the story of a woman who killed her lover for cheating on her, and ultimately gets lynched for it.
"Miss Otis," resting regally on an isolated wall in the display room, is a vibrant colored print of a damsel centered in front of jail bars and surrounded by a sea of lipsticked lips and blue eyes. According to Bayan, she is the inspiration for many of the other works in the collection. This is fitting since Amos inspired many of the other Black female artists whose works are displayed in the Brandywine exhibition, Bayan said.
“I don’t think that these lithographs look like a lot of traditional works in museums that people associate with lithography, so I hope that audiences are both delighted by the images and colors and impressed by the variety of the subject matter.”