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Title: Winfred Rembert: Amazing Grace
Publisher: Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY
Publication Date: 2012
Book Condition: Good
About this title
Winfred Rembert: Amazing Grace Images on Leather at the Hudson River Museum The work of Winfred Rembert, a self-taught artist, who documents his life and the tumultuous moments of the American Civil Rights Movement, is on view at the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, January 21 through May 6, 2012.
In more than 50 works on hand-tooled leather stretched, stained, and etched Rembert constructs scenes from the rural Southern town where he was born and raised, and peoples it with characters working the fields, joyous at church meetings, and enjoying its pool hall, jazz club, and café. His images are alive with figures and color, and dense with pattern. Some, more somber, convey the strife and grief of his own experiences of a near lynching and prison life.
Growing up in 1950s rural Georgia, Rembert did backbreaking labor in the cotton fields. A young man, he was arrested during a 1960s civil rights march, and survived a near lynching. A prisoner serving an unjust seven-year sentence, he learned to make pattern and design on leather by watching a fellow inmate create tooled leather wallets. Years later, adding color on tanned leather, Rembert conjured a world of incredible brutality and close personal ties existing in discomforting proximity. The exhibition s riveting themes include the Cotton Field series, where cotton balls snake relentlessly through rows of toiling field hands: Rembert said, curved [cotton] rows make a beautiful pattern. But as soon as you start picking, you forget how good it looks and think how hard it is. There just isn t anything you can say about cotton that is good.
Amazing Grace, the first major museum exhibition of Rembert s work, incorporates historical photographs of places in Georgia, a documentary of his life by noted filmmaker Vivian Ducat, and gospel music both recorded and performed by Rembert in the Hudson River Museum galleries on several dates. Music, pivotal in Rembert s life and art, and has contributed to his success as a mentor to young people.
Rembert, who now lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut, has shown his art at the Yale University Art Gallery alongside Hale Woodruff, a mid-20th century artist who also chronicled rural Georgia.. Jock Reynolds, director of the Yale Art Gallery said, I found myself captivated by the work of an entirely self-taught artist who was unaware of the strong affinities of form, subject matter, and narrative that he shared with Hale Woodruff and other towering figures of African-American Art such as Horace Pippin, Jacob Lawrence, and Romare Bearden.
Organized by the Hudson River Museum and curated by Bartholomew F. Bland, the show, is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue of essays by Bartholomew Bland, Director of Curatorial Affairs; Roger Panetta, History Professor, Fordham University; Ellen Keiter, Curator of Contemporary Art, Katonah Museum of Art; Fordham University Ph.D. candidate Clifton Watson, and Irma Watkins-Owens, Associate Professor, African and African American Studies, Fordham University.About the Author:
Bartholomew Bland is the curator of Winfred Rembert: Amazing Grace. The Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Hudson River Museum, his survey exhibitions for the museum include Paintbox Leaves: Autumnal Inspiration from Cole to Wyeth and Dutch New York: The Roots of Hudson Valley. His upcoming exhibition, American Dreamers: Reality and Imagination in Contemporary Art will debut in March 2012 at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Italy. Other projects include the traveling exhibition A Field Guide to Sprawl, which he curated for the Arts Council of Westchester and appeared at Yale University and All Things in Time, a survey of African American artist Whitfield Lovell. He is co-author of the book Merry Wives and Others: A History of Domestic Humor Writing. In his former positions, he organized a wide range of interpretive projects for the Staten Island Museum at Snug Harbor Cultural Center and the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach.
Ellen J. Keiter is the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Katonah Museum of Art, where she has worked for the past ten years. Previously, she was the Curator of Exhibitions at the Hudson River Museum. She has organized over 40 exhibitions on contemporary art and culture, and has juried numerous shows throughout the tri-state area. Her particular interest is in public art and performance. Ms. Keiter has a master s in art history from American University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Muhlenberg College.
Roger Panetta is a Visiting Professor of History at Fordham University and has authored numerous articles on the history of New York State and the region. As Adjunct Curator for History at the Hudson River Museum, he co-curated Dutch New York: The Roots of Hudson Valley Culture in 2009 and Westchester: The American Suburb in 2006 and edited the catalogs, published by Fordham University Press. In 2001, he co-curated the Hudson River Museum s exhibition The Great Migration Stories, from the South to the North and directed its oral history project. A co-author of The Hudson: An Illustrated Guide to the Living River, published by Rutgers University Press, Dr. Panetta continues to pursue his interest in the Hudson River and its Valley, as Curator of the Hudson River Collection at Fordham University. In 2006, he received the Cultural Heritage Award from the Lower Hudson Conference.
Irma Watkins -Owens is Associate Professor and Co-chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and History at Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus. Her research focuses on the migration experiences of southern African American and Caribbean women in early 20th-century New York. Dr. Watkins-Owens is the author of Blood Relations: Caribbean Immigrants and the Harlem Community, 1900-1930. A native of Mississippi, she grew up during the civil-rights era, and while a student at Tougaloo College was a member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In the summer of 1966 she worked in Jackson, Mississippi for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Clifton N. Watson, the grandson of Southern migrants, was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. He credits his mother and maternal grandparents for nurturing his interests in history and service to community. Before pursuing his PhD in history at Fordham University, Clifton worked for organizations committed to strengthening schools and communities. A former Dr. Julius Ford Teaching Fellow at Westchester Community College, he has taught in public schools managed and youth development initiatives at the Princeton Center for Leadership Training, among others. He encourages students to critique depictions of historical moments, using the lens of their family and community histories, and understanding of current social, political, and cultural trends.
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