Dr. Leslie King-Hammond, the founding director of the Center for Race and Culture at the Maryland Institute College of Art, doesn't just want to share some extraordinary artwork in a variety of media. She wants to share their hidden messages. King-Hammond curated "Ashe to Amen," a biblically inspired show opening at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens Sunday, October 20th. The multimedia exhibit takes viewers to the crossroads where faith meets the creative urge, exploring the impact of the Bible on the African-American identity.
"People will want to see 'Ashe to Amen' because of the fantastic diversity of media and also because it shows a variety of ways to celebrate faith," King-Hammond says. "You can see the far-reaching range in which faith can have an impact and tell a story of survival, strength, community, and family. There are little mysteries in every one of the works and people might want to come and discover how to decode these private personal works of faith."
With "Ashe to Amen" King-Hammond wanted to look for the earliest traces of biblical imagery in African-American artwork, and, in the spirit of a call-and-response hymn, she wanted to allow those pieces to have a conversation with other historical and contemporary work.
"Because they couldn't relate these Bible stories to their lives, [African slaves] aligned them with the realities of their lives," King-Hammond says. "They translated these stories into the experiences that they were having in the Americas. That's where this show is very different from a Renaissance show, where you are inundated with religious scenes and themes. The show I put together won't look anything like that."
"Ashe to Amen: African Americans and Biblical Imagery" at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens October 20th-January 5th. Dr. Leslie King-Hammond hosts a lecture/walk-through of the exhibition Sunday, October 20th, 2 p.m. The opening event is free with regular museum admission.