“Explorations of Self: Black Portraiture” to open in Hanes Gallery

“Explorations of Self: Black Portraiture from the Cochran Collection” will open at Wake Forest University’s Hanes Gallery on Sept. 21 and run through March 28. Planned programming will include artist talks, group discussions and community outreach. Details will be announced as they are finalized.

Although a year in the making, “this exhibition arrives at an appropriate moment; it spotlights almost a century of brilliant but long-overlooked work of Black artists, collected with steadfast commitment by Wes and Missy Cochran, and attests to the flexibility and fortitude of Wake Forest students to make the exhibition happen,” said Hanes Gallery Director Paul Bright. 

Jim Alexander “Stars and Bars” (1981)

Jim Alexander “Stars and Bars” (1981)

Forty-one works from a collection of over 700 have been curated by art students from the Cochran’s private collection of modern and contemporary works on paper by American artists, including many household names, about half of them artists of color.

Under the guidance of art history professor John Curley, undergraduates in his seminar class researched the Cochran’s collection, its artists and the larger history and condition of artists of color and their work, to create the exhibition. The student-driven approach aligned with the Cochran’s collecting mission. For many years, Wes (a retired stonemason) and Missy (a retired teacher) have shown the work in their own LaGrange, Georgia, gallery and traveled thematic groups of their holdings, often to venues in smaller communities with student populations. Exposure to students and scholars, in addition to a more general public, is central to their concept of the collection.

“Explorations of Self” presents the work of Emma Amos, Lorna Simpson, Willie Cole, Jack Whitten, Adrian Piper, Alma Thomas, Beverly Buchanan, Juan Logan, Howardena Pindell, Jim Alexander, Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett, Camille Billops, Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence, among others, of whom nearly half are women.

Due to pandemic-related restrictions, access to Hanes Gallery is currently limited to Wake Forest University students, faculty and staff. The University and the gallery will be offering online content about the exhibition. Sign up to receive notifications at hanesgallery.wfu.edu.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Student, Teacher-Scholar, Top Stories, Valuing Diversity