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Personal to Political: Celebrating the African American Artists of the Paulson Fontaine Press

Not on view
1/22/2022 - 3/13/2022
Organizing institution: Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts

There is no singular way to address the conversation of race and representation in contemporary art. Personal to Political presents fourteen artists who capture the personal narratives and political discourses of African Americans across the country, reflecting a collective experience expressed in uniquely individual ways. This powerful exhibition of figurative and abstract artworks channels the poetics of the human experience from past and present and boldly presents ideas about history, identity, personal stories, and spiritual inspiration.

At the heart of this show is Berkeley-based fine art print studio Paulson Fontaine Press, who over the past two decades has developed an unparalleled roster of internationally celebrated artists – artists like Martin Puryear, Kerry James Marshall, and the Gee’s Bend Quilters – who characterize the fresh perspectives that are today’s avant-garde. In addition to the forty-four prints from Paulson Fontaine Press, the exhibition includes a selection of studio works by several of the exhibition artists including paintings, collage, sculpture, and quilts. Taken as a whole, this show offers a rich display of media and material and an expansive approach to art-making.

Personal to Political features works by Edgar Arceneaux, Radcliffe Bailey, McArthur Binion, Gee's Bend Quilters (Louisiana Bendolph, Mary Lee Bendolph, Loretta Bennett, Loretta Pettway), Lonnie Holley, David Huffman, Samuel Levi Jones, Kerry James Marshall, Martin Puryear, Gary Simmons, and Lava Thomas. The exhibition was organized by Carrie Lederer, Curator of Exhibitions, Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, CA.

Established in Emeryville in 1996, Paulson Fontaine Press, formerly Paulson Bott Press, is known for amplifying important, often underrepresented, voices in the visual arts. In 1997, after hearing the painter Kerry James Marshall give a talk about the dearth of Black voices and representation in major museums and art institutions co-founder Pam Paulson realized there was a vacuum to be filled. Through their fine art publishing program, Paulson Fontaine Press reaches new audiences for African American artists across the country. Artists include Samuel Levi Jones, known for compositions created from deconstructed institutional texts; Bay Area artist Lava Thomas, whose multidisciplinary practice considers themes of social justice, female subjectivity, current events and the shifting tides of history; and Edgar Arceneaux, a Los Angeles native who has been a pivotal leader of the Watts House Project, an effort to revitalize the Watts community through art.


Artist Lecture: Lava Thomas
Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 7–8:30PM

Closing Reception
Saturday, March 5, 2022, 3-5PM
Mills College Art Museum

Exhibition Images (40)

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