In honor of Black History Month, the County College of Morris (CCM) Art and Design Gallery will open an exhibition in February – Black Art Matters – honoring the accomplishments of African-American artists in New Jersey.
The Black Art Matters exhibit opens February 6 and runs through March 31. A reception, free and open to the public, will be held Thursday, February 23, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
“The exhibition offers the opportunity to explore the achievements, culture and heritage of New Jersey’s African-American artists through their work,” says Todd L. W. Doney, director of the gallery and professor of visual arts at CCM. To accomplish that, Doney reached out to Jersey City artist and friend, Alvin Pettit, to curate the exhibit. Pettit is director of the Mary McLeod Bethune Life Center in Jersey City and is well connected to the state’s visual arts community.
A Baltimore native and New York based fine artist, Pettit is firmly situated within the figurative sculpting and painting traditions. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, his home was filled with paintings by his father and grandfather and that, combined with the fact that his family was heavily involved in the Civil Rights movement, led him to recognize the importance of using art as a tool for social awareness.
The Black Art Matters exhibition highlights African-American artists from New Jersey including Yvonne Bandy, who teaches graphic design at CCM; Tyler Ballon, recipient of a Congressional Art Competition award; and Cory Ford, whose work earned a first place award at the Greenpoint Gallery (Brooklyn) 2014 People’s Choice Show.
The title Black Art Matters is used to emphasize the point that art created by African-Americans is part of the history of visual arts in the United States and worldwide, notes Pettit.
“The significance and impact African-American Art has had on society is immeasurable,” says Pettit. “It is woven into the fabric of civilization and the recognition it deserves is long overdue.”
The Art and Design Gallery is located in the Sherman H. Masten Learning Resource Center on CCM’s Randolph campus, 214 Center Grove Road. Gallery hours are Monday and Wednesday, noon to 5 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, noon to 8 p.m.; Friday, noon to 4 p.m.; and the first Saturday of the month, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.