Diversity Within Unity: The Scope of African-American Art in Florida


December 21, 2002 – March 2, 2003

Perkins Gallery

The number of talented artists working in Florida today is extraordinary. We at the Polk Museum of Art have little problem locating wonderful artworks to present to you as part of our longstanding commitment to support in-state artists. Our surveys of contemporary art being produced throughout the state, however, have often failed to note the important work being done by African-Americans. To rectify this omission, we are pleased to present Diversity Within Unity: The Scope of African-American Art in Florida.

This exhibition includes twelve men and women from around the state whose work, taken together, is as disparate as one would expect from almost any randomly selected artists. Paintings, prints, mixed media constructions, ceramics, photographs, and drawings are presented to you as examples of the extraordinary talent often missed by art museums.

The artists included in this exhibition range in age from their mid-twenties to their early-sixties, in artistic education from those who are self-taught to university professors, and in birthplaces from Polk County to New York City, Brooklyn, South Carolina, Mississippi and Jamaica. Professionally, some have chosen art as their full-time occupation, some teach in addition to their studio work, and others have alternate forms of employment that allow them to explore their artistic passions.

There are three attributes that are shared by all twelve artists and which have led the Museum to bring them together: they reside in Florida, they are African-American, and they have made important contributions to the artistic climate in the state. It is this last factor that has been the most important for our consideration. Beyond race or geographical location, these artists, like all great artists, have been able to visualize part of the world around us in ways that can extend our own imaginations.

Artists in the exhibition:

  • Rhonda Bristol (Fernandina Beach)
  • John W. Butler (Winter Haven)
  • Glendia Cooper (Jacksonville)
  • Jonathan Green (Naples)
  • Adler Guerrier (Miami)
  • Nzingah Muhammad (Tampa)
  • Sangoyemi Ogunsanya (Tampa)
  • Vickie Pierre (Miami Beach)
  • Tall Rickards (North Miami)
  • James Vann (Valrico)
  • Terry Wilson (West Palm Beach)
  • Purvis Young (Miami)

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