HMAAC Reopens February 19 With Two New Exhibitions
The Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) is pleased to announce its reopening February 19 with two new exhibitions, Vanguard: Black Women Making Lemonade and Fresh and Contemporary: Moving Forward, both opening February 19 and closing May 1, 2021.
Although the Museum celebrates Black History every month including February, as well as Women’s History Month in March, Vanguard: Black Women Making Lemonade is a timely reminder of the tremendously influential year 2020 was for Black Women who seemingly received metaphorical lemons and turned them in to lemonade to quench a nation’s thirst for progress. Two names ring out loud and clear: Stacey Abrams and of course our first Black American, first Asian American, first Woman Vice President, Kamala Harris. Taking a cue from historian Martha Jones’ book, Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won The Vote, and Insisted on Equality For All , the museum reached into it’s vault for it’s 2014 exhibition, Women of A New Tribe, the Houston edition of photographer Jerry Taliaferro’s national recognition of Black women. HMAAC’s 2014 Women of A New Tribe celebrated the achievement of Houston Black women in religion, government, philanthropy, community service, sports, art and culture. Their recognition is just as valid in 2021.
The exhibition also includes a celebration of the Museum’s Hattie Mae White Women: They Loomed Large In Our History from its web page. These women were the epitome of artist Beyonce’s tribute to Black culture’s achievement recipe of “taking lemons and making lemonade.” Beginning with White, the first African American to hold public office in the 20th century, HMAAC celebrates the lives of Houstonians Catherine Roett, Nellye Joyce Punch, Ruby Mosely and Ethel Mosely Young, women given little resources but fashioning lives of great local impact on our communities and our city.
According to exhibition curator John Guess, Jr., “HMAAC has increasingly focused on what Bernard and Shirley Kinsey call “The Myth of Absence,” the phenomenon in American history of not formally acknowledging the contributions of African Americans.” Guess added, “This exhibition of inclusion is a continuation by the museum of redressing this unfortunate aspect of American storytelling.”
Also opening is Fresh and Contemporary: Moving Forward, which embraces 2021 as a fresh start that draws energy from current but also past contemporary sources and in America’s current attention on race and gender reckoning, uses images that serve as reminders that hope coexists with work to be done. The pieces in the exhibit challenge the viewer to use this moment to reconsider fixed ideas they might have to start an important conversation about what we’ve been told and what we’re telling others regarding race and gender. The exhibition returns HMAAC from the divide of 2020 to freshness in terms of the diversity of artists, race, gender and to acknowledgement once again of a wider world, drawing on the intersection of painting, history, pop culture, with works ranging from figurative to the abstract. There is, of course, a side of the future that is not necessarily a move forward, where challenges to the yearning for a fresh start and reckoning for people of color, sexual orientation and for women continue to have to be worked out. A number of the pieces in the exhibition speak to and acknowledge this reality.
“This exhibition presents the energy of ‘keep hope alive’ along with the reality of a large segment of the country that adamantly opposes any progressive societal reckoning,” according to exhibition curator John Guess, Jr. “Fresh communicates inclusion, exclusion and confusion all existing in one space as they do in our country,” he added.
Fresh and Contemporary: Moving Forward includes work from artists David McGee, Carlos Don Juan, Khaliff Thompson, Delilah Montoya, E2Kleinveld and Julien, Kevin Johnson, Gavin Benjamin, Molly Gochman, John Singletary, Trenity Thomas, Akihiko Sugiura, Renee Victor, Chris Barnard, Romeo Robinson and the freshness of new twenty something artists Jessica Carroll and Amara Merritt.
HMAAC Board President Cindy Miles indicated the intent of the museum, in addition to presenting art and culture in our building and in the community, “to chronicle more of the African American historical presence in Houston because our absence from the city’s landscape is so striking.”
Vanguard: Black Women Making Lemonade and Fresh and Contemporary: Moving Forward is made possible through the support of The Houston Endowment, HEB, Sara and Bill Morgan, the Houston Arts Alliance, Truist Bank and the Board of Directors of The Houston Museum of African American Culture.
ABOUT THE HOUSTON MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE
The mission of HMAAC is to collect, conserve, explore, interpret, and exhibit the material and intellectual culture of Africans and African Americans in Houston, the state of Texas, the southwest and the African Diaspora for current and future generations. In fulfilling its mission, HMAAC seeks to invite and engage visitors of every race and background and to inspire children of all ages through discovery-driven learning. HMAAC is to be a museum for all people. While our focus is the African American experience, our story informs and includes not only people of color, but people of all colors. As a result, the stories and exhibitions that HMAAC brings to Texas are about the indisputable fact that while our experience is a unique one, it has been impacted by and has impacted numerous races, genders and ethnicities. The museum continues to be a space where a multicultural conversation on race geared toward a common future takes place.