There was a tremendous response to the invitation of Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener director and director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to the black-tie fundraiser celebrating the ground-breaking exhibition and greatly anticipated publication “Represent: 200 Years of African American Art.” The fundraiser honored museum trustee Constance E. Clayton, who was recognized for her dedicated efforts supporting African-American collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) gala on Jan. 17.
In addition to being recognized for her outstanding contributions as a trustee, Clayton has served as a dynamic chair of the African American Collections Committee. Distinguished as the first African-American woman appointed as the Philadelphia superintendent of schools, Clayton remarked how her beloved mother — the late Willabell Clayton — prepared her for her incredible journey.
“I am most pleased that the proceeds from tonight’s gala will provide support for a new fellowship to advance diversity in the curatorial field of our great museum of art and the establishment of a new fellowship for an African American to become a leader in the curatorial world,” Clayton said. “The commitments of resources illustrate the intent of our museum to make a meaningful difference, to have our museum leadership become more representative of today’s diverse and multicultural society.”
Clayton extended a warm welcome and thanks to Rub, committee members, sponsors and all who were “Out & About” to support the milestone event. She was delighted to see her sorority sisters, Maxine C. Harvey, president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter, and former Delta national presidents, Thelma T. Daley and Mona Humpries. Bernard C. Watson, an iconic Philadelphia visionary and leader in the art world, traveled from Florida for the momentous occasion.
Clayton’s compelling remarks focused on what she referred to as, “The notion of journey, my journey, our journey and the museum’s journey.” One could feel the deep love and respect she has for her mother, their shared passion for art and tremendous bond. Clayton also spoke of the journey of renowned African-American artist the late Henry Ossawa Tanner and the love and nurturing he and his siblings received from their mother, the late Sarah Elizabeth Miller. She expressed gratitude for his work being a part of the incredible exhibition.
“Represent: 200 Years of African American Art” at the PMA is an incredible selection of works by African-American artists. The exhibition features an array of artistic expressions that include paintings, sculptures, textiles, furniture, ceramics and more. It is a visual feast!
The exhibition marks the publication of a new, expanded catalogue that guides one through the collection. “Represent: 200 Years of African American Art” is written and edited by Gwendolyn Dubois Shaw, associate professor of American art at the University of Pennsylvania. The introduction is written by Richard J. Powell with contributions from 25 museum curators and outside scholars. There are wonderful descriptions and illustrations of more than 200 works by nearly 100 artists and it is a treasure.
Following a cocktail reception and viewing of the exhibition, Richard J. Powell, Duke University dean of humanities, delivered a keynote address that was appreciated with a standing ovation. Powell, who is a recipient of numerous awards, honors and distinctions, spoke eloquently about the rich history and significant contributions of African-American artists.
Congratulations and best wishes are extended to Constance E. Clayton and all who helped to bring this wonderful initiative to fruition!
Have a fantastic week, “Out & About,” everyone!