Art students from Rappahannock High School are offering a taste of the Harlem Renaissance at Northumberland Public Library, and local alumni and students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities have contributed a collection of photographs, creating an exhibit titled “The Faces of Renaissance from Harlem to the Northern Neck.”
In the 1920s and 1930s, a literary, artistic and intellectual movement was thriving in Harlem, NY as African-Americans migrated from the rural south to urban areas in the northeast. The Harlem Renaissance, as it is called, was a period that created the foundations for black cultural expression to manifest and become globally influential, RHS art teacher Donna Jackson explained. And that’s why she felt it was important to introduce her students to it.
Jackson instructed them to step outside of their comfort zone and try to capture the style of that time in their own artwork.
The students created pieces inspired by artists of the period, including Lois Mailou Jones, Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, James Van Der Zee and Beauford Delaney, and the result is a vibrant, thought-provoking collection that is lining the walls of the library’s meeting room.
The exhibit also includes pieces provided by Khadijah Bea, a graduate of Northumberland High School who is currently attending the College of William & Mary.
Friday evening the Northumberland library, Virginia Northern Neck Alumanae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and VilDon Edutainment/L.I.F.E hosted a reception in honor of the exhibit. Guests were invited in to enjoy wine, hors d’oeuvres and the visual experience.
Jackson repeatedly expressed how pleased she was with the outcome of the students’ work, and Jane Blue, the public library director, said the library is extremely proud to house the exhibit.
The collection will be on display all month and is open to the public during all of the library’s operating hours unless there is a meeting in the room.
To further the celebration of black culture, on February 23, the library, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and VilDon Edutainment are also hosting the fifth annual Celebration of Black History through Education, Art, Music and Dance. The event will an immersive cultural experience with a variety of entertainment.
This event was also held at the Northumberland Public Library when it first started. But it has grown to be bigger, better and more popular each year, said Blue. So, it will be held at Northumberland High School and will begin at 2 p.m.