We Dream a World: African American Landscape Painters of Mid-Century Florida, The Highwaymen
July 10 – September 26, 2021
SARASOTA, Fla., May 24, 2021 – We Dream A World, African American Landscape Painters of Mid-Century Florida, The Highwaymen, will be on view at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ (Selby Gardens) Downtown Sarasota campus July 10 to September 26, 2021.
We Dream a World explores the depth of art and business enterprise created by a unique set of landscape artists. Guest Curator Radiah Harper will take visitors through the experience of African Americans who, living in a hostile climate of racial injustice, were able to both learn their artistic craft through formal and informal education, and successfully break away from traditional field labor jobs to monetize their work. Visitors will also discover the little-known account of Lincoln Park Academy’s art teacher, Ms. Zanobia Jefferson, and how she recognized and nurtured the natural talent of young African American students.
In all, more than two dozen African American artists embraced a style of bright bold colors focused on natural landscapes, preserving images of old Florida for future generations. Their painting technique is distinct and while shunned from the traditional mainstream art market due to the practice of segregation, the artists’ ingenuity to sell directly to customers quickly resulted in a proliferation of their art in waiting rooms, lobbies, and homes throughout the east coast of Florida.
The exhibition will feature a selection of paintings from a variety of lenders, including The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Asselstine Collection, Roger Lightle and Doretha Hair Truesdell, in Selby Gardens’ Museum of Botany & the Arts. We Dream A World, African American Landscape Painters of Mid-Century Florida, The Highwaymen is presented in collaboration with theSarasota African American Cultural Coalition.
Guest Curator Radiah Harper will present a free virtual lecture to accompany the exhibition on Wednesday, July 14, Noon to 1 p.m. To register, visit selby.org. Radiah Harper has extensive practice developing transformational experiences at the intersection of visual art, critical thinking, and social change. In her career she has served as Executive Director and Curator, Museum for African American Art, Tampa, Florida; Vice Director for Education and Program Development, Brooklyn Museum, NY; Assistant Professor, Teachers College of Columbia University; and Author. Radiah’s mission is to create space with and for BIPOC, to help shed light and move us forward.
The exhibition is included with regular admission to Selby Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus and is free to members of Selby Gardens and the Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition.
We Dream A World, African American Landscape Painters of Mid-Century Florida, The Highwaymen is sponsored by Isabel Becker.
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About Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens provides 45 acres of bayfront sanctuaries connecting people with air plants of the world, native nature, and our regional history. Established by forward thinking women of their time, Selby Gardens is composed of the 15-acre Downtown Sarasota campus and the 30-acre Historic Spanish Point campus in the Osprey area of Sarasota County, Florida. The Downtown Campus on Sarasota Bay is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of epiphytic orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns, and other tropical plants. There is a significant focus on botany, horticulture, education, historical preservation, and the environment. The Historic Spanish Point (HSP) Campus is located less than 10 miles south along Little Sarasota Bay. The HSP Campus, one of the largest preserves showcasing native Florida plants that is interpreted for and open to the public, celebrates an archaeological record that encompasses approximately 5,000 years of Florida history. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a Smithsonian Affiliate and is also accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. For more information visit www.selby.org.
About Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition
SAACC’s mission is to preserve, celebrate and share the cultural, artistic and historical heritage of African Americans in Sarasota and beyond.
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Our Mission: To provide bayfront sanctuaries connecting people with air plants of the world, native nature, and our regional history