The Rapidian

Exhibit: Eye Contact – African American Portraits

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Repeats every day until Saturday, February 28, 2015 .

during regular open hours

Grand Rapids Public Library, Main Library

111 Library St NE
Grand Rapids MI 49503

Joshua Johnson (1763-1824) or Johnson as some call him, is often viewed as the first person of color to make a living as a painter in the United States. He is known for his paintings of prominent Baltimore residents while still a slave. Johnson received his freedom in 1782 and began advertising himself as a portrait painter or limner. African American artists have used his portrait painting as a method of conveying their history and continue today with contemporary artists like Kehinde Wiley and Simmie Knox.

This exhibit is a small collection of artwork that shadows Johnson's tradition. The bulk of the works are by West Michigan artists of color. The subjects of these artists represent a cross section of society, of occupations and of time periods. The portraits capture the soul of the sitter—not a quick selfie but an indepth look at the person. Sponsored by Bayard Art & Frame.

Event Type: Arts-Entertainment 

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