For the Culture, By the Culture: 30 Years of Black Art, Activism, and Achievement
May 25 – September 25, 2022
For the Culture, By the Culture brings together prior ATA featured artists in a group retrospective that spans 30 years and features established local and national Black artists. There will be a Member Preview on Thursday, May 19.
ATA is a non-profit arts organization located in Morris County, New Jersey, that showcases fine art by established and emerging African American artists. ATA’s annual Atrium Gallery show in Morristown became the largest exhibit of its kind in New Jersey. Their mission is to celebrate Black excellence, support the careers and lives of Black fine artists, and create opportunities for emerging voices in Black art. ATA’s impact and accomplishments over the past 30 years to increase the visibility of Black artistry is unparalleled.
Although ATA is not politically affiliated and never set out to be an activist organization, this exhibit honors ATA’s activism because Black art is inherently political. Over the years, some of their exhibited works have caused controversy, especially because ATA’s exhibits have mainly existed in a public building that houses courtrooms and County officials. This has not deterred the organization or its artists from creating authentic works and letting the personal expression speak truth to power.
For the Culture, By the Culture will include ATA artists, masters of their craft, who have contributed to Black culture by creating impactful works for decades. Some have received national recognition like Bisa Butler, Jerry Gant, and Faith Ringgold. Many of the artists began their careers with ATA and through the organization, they received significant exposure that helped launch their artistic careers.
Included in the For the Culture, By the Culture are 41 works by 19 artists. The selected artists are Alonzo Adams, Benny Andrews, Bisa Butler, Leroy Campbell, Elizabeth Catlett, Viki LeBeaux Clark Craig, James Denmark, David Driskell, Jerry Gant, Richard Haynes, Norman Lewis, Russell A. Murray, Rosalind Nzinga Nichol, Janet Taylor Pickett, Faith Ringgold, Joe Sam, Cedric Smith, William Tolliver, and Deborah Willis.
This exhibition is curated by Charles D. Craig, Nette Forne’ Thomas, Onnie Strother with Michelle Graves, Managing Curator, Morris Museum.
Generous support for this exhibition is provided by M&T Bank. Additional support is provided by Novartis.
Art in the Atrium, Inc. (ATA) is a non-profit, tax-exempt, Black-led arts organization that was founded in Morristown, New Jersey in 1991. Since its inception 30 years ago, ATA has annually exhibited four floors of African American fine art in the Atrium Gallery in Morristown, becoming the largest exhibit of its kind in the state. With a mission to celebrate Black excellence, support the careers and lives of Black fine artists, and create opportunities for emerging voices in Black art, ATA has done that and more. Since its founding ATA has given over $30,000 in scholarships to promising BIPOC arts students and has spurred economic activity in the community by selling approximately $500,000 in fine art by rising and established Black artists at its annual and satellite art exhibits for corporate and government partners. Past exhibits have featured such masters as David Driskell, Willie Cole, Deborah Willis, Benny Andrews, Elizabeth Catlett, Bisa Butler, Janet Taylor Pickett and Faith Ringgold. In 2001 and again in 2016, the organization was named “Arts Organization of the Year” by Morris Arts.
Artwork Credit: Bisa Butler, Basquiat, 2015, Mixed media; Elizabeth Catlett (1915–2012), Seated Mother and Child, 2011, Bronze; David Driskell (1931–2020), Woman in Interior, 2008, Silkscreen. Photographs by Elizabeth Catlett & the Morris Museum.