Reflections: African American Life from the Myrna Colley-Lee Collection

March 2, 2013 - May 26, 2013

Reflections tells a highly personal story of community and place through a selection of the extensive collection of costume designer and arts patron, Myrna Colley-lee. Featuring 50 works including paintings works on paper, collages, and fabric works, Reflections presents the lives, traditions, and environments of African Americans in the 20th century. The exhibition focuses largely on the figurative and representational, presenting pieces by such noted artists as Romare Bearden, James VanDerZee, Elizabeth Catlett, Eudora Welty, and Betye Saar. Together, these complementary works present a snapshot of life from within the African American community as well as by artists working in close proximity to it.

The imagery depicted in the work focuses primarily on two areas: narrative, or genre subjects from everyday life; and the landscape of the American South. Reflections allows viewers to connect the strong tradition of storytelling by African Americans, with the sense of place that is largely unique to Southerners. Colley-Lee’s collection reflects, in part, her personal appreciation of the two traditions and the way in which she sees them intertwine. Reflections is organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC, in collaboration with the office of Myrna Colley-Lee.

Betye Saar, Two Women in Coats, 2003, collage