College of Arts and Sciences

ASCENSION: Works by African American Artists of North Carolina


Imagine... Enriching
Lives Through Art


Not an ocean Between UsJune 19, 2004-April 2, 2005

Celebrates the tremendous contribution that African Americans of North Carolina have made to the world of American art.

The exhibit features paintings, prints, sculpture and crafts by artists native to North Carolina and others whose work has been significantly influenced by their lives in the state. The show represented a powerful collection of visual imagery that is prophetic, iconic, energetic, visionary, historical, modern, transitional, meditative, compliant, resistant, meditative, sensuous and sometimes simply southern. It covers over 90 years of work from the turn of the Twentieth Century to the present. From African American entrepreneurs in the arts (such as Charles H. Alston, William E. Artis, Malvin Gray Johnson, Selma Hortense Burke, Thomas Sills, Vester Amos Lowe, Minnie Evans, J. Eugene Grigsby, Jr., Samuel Joseph Brown, Hayward Oubre, Haywood bill rivers and William Arthur Cooper), to the progressive African American artists responding to the need for artists from their culture and representing the spiritual journey of African Americans (such as John Thomas Biggers, and his nephew, Jim Biggers, William T. Williams, Vandorn Hinnant, Juan Logan, Lois Mailou Jones, David Driskell, James D. Diggs, Michelle Tejoula Turner, Ce Scott, Stephanie Pogue, Michael D. Harris, and Beverly Buchanan); to the generation bringing African American art into the present day and promising future (such as Sonny Brown, Ernie E. Barnes, Jr., Michael Cunningham, Willie Little, Beverely McIver, Chandra Cox and Melvin Leon Woods, among others), ASCENSION was one of the most historically fulfilling the gallery has presented. The exhibit was featured in a number of newspaper, radio, and television programs, including a weekend segment done by UNC-TV, and has drew over 14,000 visitors from all over the United States.

Featured Artists

  • Charles H. Alston (1907-1977, Charlotte, NC)
  • William E. Artis (1914 - 1977, Washington, NC)
  • Ernie E. Barnes, Jr. (b. 1938, Durham, NC) Studied at NC Central University.
  • Romare Bearden (1914 -1988, Charlotte, NC)
  • James Biggers (b. 1948, Gastonia, North Carolina)
  • John Thomas Biggers (1924 - 2001, Gastonia, NC)
  • Samuel Joseph Brown (1907 - 1994, Wilmington, NC)
  • Beverly Buchanan (b. 1940, Fuquay, NC) Studied at Bennett College.
  • Selma Hortense Burke (1900 - 1995, Mooresville, NC) Educated at Winston-Salem State University.
  • Chandra Cox (b. 1954, New York City) Department Chair and Distinguished Professor of Art and Design at NC State University.
  • Michael Cunningham, (b.1969, Landover, Maryland) Educated at WSSU and UNC-G.
  • David Driskell (b. 1931, Eatonton, Georgia, but raised and educated in Rutherford County, NC).
  • Minnie Evans (1890-1987, Wilmington, NC)
  • J. Eugene Grigsby, Jr. (b. 1918, Greensboro, NC)
  • Michael D. Harris (b. 1952, Cleveland, Ohio) Artist and art historian, Founding Member of Africobra, Professor at UNC-CH since 1996.
  • Van Dorn Hinnant (b. 1953, Greensboro, NC)
  • Malvin Gray Johnson (1896-1934, Greensboro, NC)
  • Lois Mailou Jones (1906-1988, Boston, MA) Palmer Memorial Institute, Sedalia, NC
  • Juan Logan (1946, Nashville, Tennessee) University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.
  • Beverly McIver (b. 1962, Greensboro, NC)
  • Hayward Oubre (b. 1916, New Orleans, LA) First Chairman of the Art Department at Winston-Salem State University.
  • Stephanie Pogue (1944-2003, Shelby, NC)
  • Ce Scott (b.1959, Detroit, MI) Lived and worked in Charlotte, North Carolina since 1981.
  • Michelle Tejoula Turner (b. 1956, Detroit, MI) ) Lived and worked in Charlotte, North Carolina since 1988.
  • William T. Williams (b. 1942, Cross Creek, NC)

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