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Artifacts

Bayard Rustin

From the Vault Banner

January 18 – August 2020

State of Tennessee Gallery

From the Vault 2020 offers a glimpse into the museum’s collections by highlighting the museum’s recent acquisitions and donations. It features artwork from renowned German artist Thomas Rother and Peruvian artist Nicario Jimenez Quispe as well as photography from Bob Adelman, Bruce Davidson, and David Levinthal, as well as other historic artifacts.

Renowned German artist Thomas Rother donated an art piece commemorating Dr. King to the museum in 2019. Rother has been a pioneer, and a visionary who merges sites of historical trauma and labor with art and culture. He has won several awards, and in the same way he received and transmitted Kings' dream of peace back then, Rother is still working today.

The museum’s collection of David Levinthal photographs explores blackface memorabilia.  Levinthal’s photographs combined with selections from the museum’s blackface collection offer visitors a multi-dimensional perspective of the pervasive and mundane manner in which blackface caricatures were integrated into all aspects of American life. Inspired the minstrel shows where white actors who black face paint while portraying caricatures of African Americans, blackface novelties have been a part of American popular culture since the nineteenth century.

Nicario Jiminez Quispe’s Years of Struggle is a retablo depicting the struggle for civil rights.  Retablos are traditional Peruvian folk art form which conveys stories through intricate dioramas housed in an ornate portable box. Years of Struggle features three scenes: Dr. King delivering his “I Have A Dream” speech during March on Washington; demonstrators of the Civil Rights Movement under attack; and the struggles of segregation and economic disparity African Americans deal with today.

Civil Rights Movement photographers Bob Adelman and Bruce Davidson vividly document the Civil Rights Movement through black and white photos.  Their work has been featured in publications and museums throughout the United States and the rest of the world.  From the Vault 2020 will showcase select photographs featuring notable civil rights activists like Dr. King, Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin and Fannie Lou Hamer as well as key historical moments.