As the community came together at the 32nd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Learning, two new exhibits opened at the Schumacher Gallery at Capital University. DIGNITY: Tribes in Transition is comprised of more than 60 intimate black and white photographs by internationally acclaimed artist Dana Gluckstein. . . . of Black Skin is a collaboration of local artists who have demonstrated the beauty of black skin in their art.
“Education is our primary function,” said David Gentilini, director of The Schumacher Gallery. “There are cultures that are not represented in museums. At the Schumacher, we are intentional about highlighting non-white artists and art. The DIGNITY show is a pretty big deal.”
DIGNITY incorporates the perspectives of Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Oren R. Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan, Onondaga Nation. The portraits capture the fleeting moment in time when traditional and contemporary cultures collide and masterfully distill the universality of the human experience while never sacrificing the dignity of the individual.
Gluckstein studied psychology and art at Stanford, where a semester abroad in Italy sparked her love for photography. Gluckstein has photographed iconic figures like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. She began creating portraits of indigenous peoples in Haiti in 1983 after working on an advertising campaign in the Caribbean.
“It is my sincere wish that DIGNITY will serve as a critical call-to-action in support of all indigenous peoples,” said Gluckstein. “ ‘The ancient ones’ tell us where we have come from and where we must go as a world community. Humanity’s survival depends on how carefully we listen.”
The art exhibition has traveled the world in support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and was featured at the United Nations in Geneva in 2011. The nonbinding declaration recognizes the institutions, cultures and traditions of indigenous peoples as well as their rights to self-determination and freedom from discrimination.
. . . of Black Skin is an exhibit created to combat the narrative that black skin as a subject matter in fine art museums is hard to come by, especially in central Ohio. Most representations are paintings of slavery, modern-day poverty, or old racist imagery shown as educational materials. Artists like Kehinde Wiley and Mickalene Thomas are a rare commodity in portraiture that celebrates the beauty and pride of black culture.
“We typically do two types of shows a year. We try to have a local show and a traveling show,” said Gentilini. “The local shows give students the opportunity to see art created locally and maybe even reach out to the artists if they want to. With the national touring exhibits, we are able to highlight that we are a cultural institution for everybody and what we can do for the city.”
Located on the fourth floor of the Blackmore Library, the Schumacher Gallery is open Monday-Friday, 12-4 p.m., and Saturday, 1-4:30 p.m. during the academic year. The gallery’s permanent collection includes more than 2,500 pieces that encompass 2,000 years of cultural history.
For more information about the Schumacher Gallery, visit https://www.capital.edu/news-and-events/arts-and-culture/schumacher-gallery/.