Monday, July 15, 2024

Monthlong Black Artist Showcase Debuts Feb. 3 at Local Museums

The Jamestown Settlement Black Artist Showcase in 2022 featured “Ezra: Reparations Groove,” a linoleum cut by Steve Prince (shown at right), as well as “The Calm,” an acrylic painting by S. Ross Browne. (Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation)

WILLIAMSBURG — Throughout the year and during Black History Month, Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown present gallery exhibits, rare artifacts and films that recount the experiences of Africans and African Americans in early America.

Exhibits range from the first known Africans in Virginia in 1619 to the role of African Americans in the Revolutionary War, according to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation (JYF).

Jamestown Settlement’s monthlong 2024 Black Artist Showcase will debut with an evening reception Feb. 3 and culminate with the annual “After Angelo” event Feb. 24.

2024 Black Artist Showcase & After Angelo at Jamestown Settlement 

Jamestown Settlement will exhibit its 2024 Black Artist Showcase from Feb. 1-29, with an exclusive opening reception on Saturday, Feb. 3.

Originally limited to one weekend, Black Artist Showcase is on extended view during Black History Month in February, connecting the past and present through the intersections of contemporary art and 17th-century history.

Guided by the theme “The Beauty of our Lives,” 22 Virginia-based artists present more than 30 original interpretations and reflections of family, faith, music and social justice, according to the foundation.

The Feb. 3 opening reception, 6-8 p.m., is $20 per person with advance registration required.

The reception will feature live music by singer and songwriter Akeylah Simone, a spoken-word performance by artist Clayton Singleton, and reflections on the fourth year of the showcase from artist Austin “Auz” Miles.

Black History Month programs culminate Feb. 24 with “After Angelo,” named for one of the first African women in Jamestown’s historical record, celebrating modern African American life and culture through art, performance and community conversation, according to JYF.

Black Artist Showcase and “After Angelo” are supported in part by the Williamsburg Area Arts Commission.

Rare Artifacts, Exhibits & Films at the Museums 

Jamestown Settlement’s permanent exhibition galleries feature period artifacts, immersive films and interactive exhibits share historical accounts of the first recorded West Central Africans to Virginia in 1619, their homeland in Ndongo (Angola), life in the Virginia colony, development of the transatlantic slave trade and the evolution of a new African American culture, JYF noted.

At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, visitors can explore the contributions of both well-known and little-known participants in the Revolutionary War from the first shots fired at the Boston Massacre to the final victory at Yorktown and points in between.

Portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo. (Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection)

According to the foundation, among the iconic artifacts on exhibit is a circa-1733 portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo by William Hoare, one of the two earliest known portraits done from life of an African who had been enslaved in the 13 British colonies that became the United States of America.

Visitors can learn about diverse Americans such as Patriots and Loyalists, women and enslaved and free African Americans, including Benjamin Banneker, a free African American who became famous in the 1790s as a scientist and writer, JYF said.

And an interactive exhibit shares accounts of Billy Flora, an African American hero of the Battle of Great Bridge in 1775, and James Lafayette, an enslaved African American from New Kent County, Virginia, who successfully spied on the British for the American forces.

Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, Jamestown Settlement is located on Route 31 just southwest of Williamsburg and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is located at 200 Water Street in Yorktown.

Admission tickets can be purchased online or in person. Visit jyfmuseums.org for more information.

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