Hunter Museum Presents A Stunning Private Collection Of African American Art

Wrapping up its 70th anniversary, yearlong focus on collecting, The Hunter Museum of American Art is pleased to announce the final of three, anniversary-year special exhibitions featuring collections. 

Opening the evening of Thursday, September 29 at 6pm, Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art celebrates the passion of an ordinary couple who spent more than 35 years as devoted connoisseurs, building a collection of vivid artworks that are both resonant and remarkably personal. 

Memories & Inspiration presents 67 selected works from a body of art amassed over 35 years. Kerry, a retired mailman, and Betty, a former television news producer, gladly gave up many ordinary comforts in order to live with extraordinary paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures as their principal luxuries. 

Their collection includes works by Radcliffe Bailey, Romare Bearden, Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, Ernest T. Crichlow, Sam Gilliam, Loïs Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Alma Thomas, and Charles White, but Kerry and Betty do not search exclusively for well-known and/or documented artists. Rather, they focus on the more meaningful task of gathering and preserving a range of artistic approaches to the black image, in order to console the psyche and contribute to a more authentic articulation of the self. 

The result is an eclectic gathering of pieces crossing different mediums, subjects, and styles by a group of artists of the African Diaspora who are strikingly diverse but unified in their use of cultural and historical narratives. 

Memories & Inspiration brings together an awe-inspiring selection of works, but it is their personal resonance—their connection to the Davises’ hopes, passions, and everyday lives—that gives the collection its unique power.

This astonishing private collection rounds out the Hunter Museum’s year of focusing on art collecting. Join us at the museum for Memories & Inspiration as well as numerous related programs through the end of the year in celebration of the Hunter’s 70th anniversary. 

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