By Bailie Wilson
The Brazos Valley African American Museum presents the Harlem Renaissance Exhibit featuring a series of artwork by Robert Schiffauer and visualization students from Texas A&M University.
The exhibit, open until March 30, consists of portraits of Harlem luminaries such as prominent artists, musicians, and actors who had a significant cultural impact. Collages representing the cultural history of Harlem are also displayed in the exhibit and were created by Texas A&M students who did extensive research on Harlem history.
“We are trying to celebrate black history how it occurred throughout the world,” says Wayne Sadberry, curator of the BVAAM. “We want to expose people to the Harlem Renaissance and what became of it.”
The Harlem Renaissance was a time period associated with events in Harlem, New York, from 1919 to 1929. An explosion of the arts came out of this period including poetry, plays, writings, music, and more.
The Harlem Renaissance had a significant influence on African American history as well as national history at large. “It turned the image of African Americans, it gave them a face in this country,” Sadberry explains. “It gave the African American population an audience to write and play for, and it spilled over into the world and into other parts of this country.”
“We want people to come learn, relax, and enjoy themselves at the same time,” says Sadberry. The BVAAM tries to create an entertaining learning experience for their visitors by adding interesting aspects to the exhibit such as background music by the infamous Louis Armstrong.
The idea for the exhibit was inspired by museum contributor Susan Gordone who approached the museum with the idea about a year ago. She also led the workshop with the Texas A&M students who created the collages. “It is our belief that if you teach students about art history of a culture, then that will enhance cultural understanding,” shares Gordone.
“We want people to be able to come to the museum, see the history, and know their heritage,” explains Velma Spivey, BVAAM director who shares the purpose behind the museum. “We want people to be able to see African Americans and how far they’ve come.”
“We want African Americans to be proud and see this is what my great, great grandmother had to do, and now I’m able to walk into this museum and learn about it,” says Spivey.
The BVAAM hosts a number of events for the community and offers special experiences for groups including student, church, and senior groups. Interactive activities such as hands-on crafts, show and tell, and story reading are a large part of the experience for young museum visitors.
The museum is hosting a number of upcoming exhibits such as the African Fashion and Artifacts Exhibit starting in April, and events such as the Blues Festival in July.
For more information, visit www.bvaam.org.