Diggs Gallery Director Takes New Position in Michigan

July 14, 2014

Belinda Tate, director of the Diggs Gallery at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), has accepted the position of executive director of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, a nonprofit art museum and school serving Western Michigan, effective September 8.

Belinda Tate"My 15 years at WSSU and with the Diggs Gallery have truly been a labor of love," Tate said.  I have endeavored to offer one of the finest university art museum experiences in the nation to the campus, the community, the state and the nation.  "I am confident that Diggs Gallery will continue to build on its national reputation and enjoy an extremely bright future."

According to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Tate was the top choice in a national search to succeed James Bridenstine who has served as executive director for 24 years.  "We reviewed many quality candidates from across the country, but Belinda demonstrated the right mix of talent, knowledge and energy," said James Carter, chair of the selection committee for the institute.

Tate became director of Diggs Gallery in 1999.  During her tenure, the gallery increased its permanent collection by 20 percent with works by artists that include John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett and Al Loving, as well as traditional African art.  In addition to increasing WSSU student participation at the gallery, she also engaged the community through a variety of exhibits including a celebration of the historic Happy Hill Community and works by African American artists from North Carolina.  Most recently, she led the renovation of the facility to create an improved venue for exhibitions and other programs.
A native of Winston-Salem, Tate earned a master's degree in liberal studies from Wake Forest University and a B.A. in art history from Yale University.  She also studied conservation and connoisseurship at the Yale Graduate School, and British art and architecture at the Paul Mellon Center in London, England.

"Belinda's vision for university engagement has yielded successful collaborations with departments spanning all disciplines on the WSSU campus," said Dr. Corey D. B. Walker, dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education.  "She also has strengthened the WSSU collection, overseen the extensive renovations of the gallery itself, and curated major exhibitions that have been educational tools for students while also creating a broader community connection.  Belinda has brought local, statewide and national recognition for the gallery as well as for her leadership."

Tate served as curator for such major exhibitions as Pride & Dignity from the Hill: A Celebration of the Historic Happy Hill Community, Ascension: Works by African American Artists of North Carolina, Not an Ocean Between Us: Voices of Women from African and the African Diaspora, in addition to major solo shows of works by Howardena Pindell, Chakaia Booker, Charles Searles, Herbert Gentry and others.  Further, she brought remarkable nationally travelling exhibitions to WSSU including Young Americans: Photographs by Sheila Pree Bright, Continuity and Change: Three Generations of Ethiopian Artists, A Stitch in Time: African American Fashions 1800-2000, and Hair in African Art and Culture.

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts was founded in 1924 to cultivate the creation and appreciation of the visual arts in Western Michigan.  It has continued to offer art classes, exhibitions, lectures, events and activities for 90 years and now has a permanent collection that includes more than 4,200 pieces ranging from American paintings, European and American prints and photographs, and pre-Columbian gold.

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