Cosmologies from the Tree of Life: Art from the African American South
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond
June 8, 2019 to November 17, 2019

This special exhibition celebrated the extraordinary contributions that African American artists have made to art and culture. The exhibition included paintings, sculptures, installations, drawings and quilts from the VMFA’s permanent collection and featured recent acquisitions of works by contemporary African American artists from the Southern U.S. The cultural origins of these artworks can be traced back to the African Diaspora, slavery, and the Jim Crow era of institutionalized racism. Working with little or no formal training, and often employing cast-off objects and unconventional materials, artists created visually compelling works that address some of the most profound and persistent issues in American society, including race, class, gender, and religion. More than 52,000 patrons visited the exhibition, which exceeded the museum’s expectations. A fully illustrated exhibition catalog became another commemoration legacy and introduced even more art enthusiasts to these important works.