Portraits of Local African American Women

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These images reprinted in the Public i are among 23 portraits created by local artist Jason Patterson. They hung in the Murphy Gallery of the Campus YMCA for February and March, Black History Month and Women’s History Month. The exhibit runs until April 1. Jason will be showing his latest work at the IMC on April 9 with an opening at 8 p.m.

Twenty-Three Portraits is a series honoring African American women of the University of Illinois and the Champaign-Urbana area who have made significant cultural, academic, civic and social contributions to the community. The work spans the years from Luetta Smith Lee, born in Urbana one year before the end of The Civil War, to Maudelle Brown Bousfield, the first Black woman to graduate from The University of Illinois in 1906, to the present, Phyllis Clark, who in 1993 was the first African American to be elected Urbana city clerk, an office she still holds today.

These works, while recognizing the importance of these women, also look at the historical convention and concept of The Portrait, specifically in the public and academic context. How do we perceive images of people, painted or photographed, on the walls of government buildings or in university halls? What positive or negative effects does this tradition have on us consciously and subconsciously? What new ideas, perceptions or understandings can be realized when these 23 portraits compositionally adhere to, but at the same time contras, with, the traditional motifs of classic portraiture?
For more of Jason’s work go to: jasonpatterson.wordpress.com

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