African American Art Engages LIFE-Learning Is ForEver Participants

Attendees at New College Institute’s LIFE-Learning Is ForEver program celebrated Black History Month by viewing and discussing African-American art from 1893 to 2015.

“We’re going to a museum together, this is not a lecture,” said course presenter Sammy Redd. Redd is the Student Services Coordinator at New College Institute who also has a passion for art appreciation. In addition to his master’s degree in counseling from Longwood University, Redd received an art history degree from Yale University in 1994.

Redd encouraged audience participation by asking three questions of attendees for each work featured: 1) What do you see? 2) What was the artist trying to convey? 3) What is your response to the image? The interactive format was well-received by attendees.

“This was a very thoughtful, very provocative lecture, but one of the things I really liked about it was that it was participatory. He (Redd) used art to break down boundaries. He set the right tone to allow, encourage, and demand people to interact, and that’s what makes art history exciting, not just understanding title and artists but why it was created,” said Mary Ruffin.

Almost forty people, from as far away as Raleigh, NC, attended the event. Works by artists discussed in the presentation included: Kerry James Marshall, Henry Tanner, Mickalene Thomas, Kehinde Wiley, Hank Willis Thomas, Sonya Clark, and Hale Woodruff. A video of the discussion is available on NCI’s Facebook page.

“Art doesn’t have to be complicated. It is something that everybody can enjoy. The most important thing is to slow down and look at what is there,” said Redd.