David C. Driskell Center

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Date: January 21, 2010
Contact: Ms. Dorit Yaron
Title: Deputy Director
Phone: 301.405.6835


COLLEGE PARK, MD. --- Her Story: Margo Humphrey Lithographs and Works on Paper surveys the career of the renowned printmaker Margo Humphrey. Works representing more than 40 years of the artist’s practice will be on view from February 4 through March 12, 2010 at the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland. Her Story was jointly curated by the Center’s Executive Director, Dr. Robert E. Steele, and curator, Dr. Adrienne L. Childs. On Thursday, February 4 between 5:00 and 7:00pm the Driskell Center will present the public opening of the exhibition and a discussion between Margo Humphrey and Dr. Childs. These events will be held at the Driskell Center’s gallery, 1207 Cole Student Activities Building, at the University of Maryland.

The works presented highlight more than 45 years of artistry by one of America’s most unique talents. Margo Humphrey’s bold, expressive use of color and freedom of form defy the two dimensionality of the printmaking medium, creating a body of work that is engaging, exuberant and alive. Through personal narrative Humphrey takes the viewer on a voyage of self-discovery that chronicles her life, loves, family, fears, joys and more. Although often intimate and idiosyncratic, Humphrey’s personal stories can be linked to the political dynamics of the feminist art movement that emerged in the 1970s during her early years of development as an artist and printmaker. Her lithographs The Last Bar-B-Que (1987) and The History of Her Life Written Across Her Face (1991) have become iconic images in American visual culture, demonstrating her ability to capture aspects of a larger African American cultural experience through personal memory, confessional, and a unique symbolic language.

Her Story features works on paper in a variety of media including lithography, monoprint, woodcut, etching and drawing. This array of works demonstrates the extraordinary skill Humphrey developed as one of the earliest African American female artists to distinguish herself as a lithographer in a highly technical, male dominated profession. She eventually produced prints at some of the most important printmaking ateliers in the Nation including Tamarind Institute, The Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper (now the Brodsky Center for Innovative Editions) and Bob Blackburn Printmaking Workshop.

Born in Oakland, California in 1942, Margo Humphrey was an artist from birth. She went to public schools in Oakland and graduated from California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) with a BA. She received an MFA from Stanford University in 1974 and taught art at University of California Santa Cruz from 1974 to 1982. Humphrey is currently a professor of Art in the Department of Art at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she has been since 1989. Humphrey’s works have been exhibited internationally in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa; she has held grants from the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation. Her works are in the Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, among many others. Humphrey lives in Hyattsville, Maryland where she continues to work.

The illustrated monograph Margo Humphrey, by Adrienne L. Childs, Volume VII in the David C. Driskell Series of African American Art, will be available for sale. Published by Pomegranate Communications, Inc. independently of the exhibition, the book presents over 45 color palates from the artists early experiments in abstraction to groundbreaking lithographs in her signature “sophisticated naïve” style. The text includes a foreword by David C. Driskell and a text by Adrienne L. Childs that considers the memories and events that have inspired her powerful body of work.

Her Story is one part of a year of programming by the David C. Driskell Center that celebrates the contributions and significance of African American women artists. The year will culminate in two special events, Autobiography/Performance/Identity: A Symposium on African American and African Diasporan Women in the Visual Arts, March 5 and 6, co-sponsored by the University of Maryland University College and the Ninth Annual Distinguished Lecture in the Visual Arts in Honor of David C. Driskell featuring Elizabeth Catlett on April 15, 2010.

The David C. Driskell Center celebrates the legacy of David C. Driskell – Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Art, Artist, Art Historian, Collector and Curator – by preserving the rich heritage of African American visual art and culture. The Driskell Center is committed to preserving, documenting and presenting African American art, as well as replenishing and expanding the field of African American art. This exhibition is supported, in part, by a special fund from the Office of the President at the University of Maryland, and a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council.

All exhibitions and events at the David C. Driskell Center are free and open to the public. The facility is wheelchair accessible. The Driskell Center Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 11:00am to 4:00pm with extended hours on Wednesday until 6:00pm. The Driskell Center observes all University of Maryland closings including snow days and holidays. For further information regarding this exhibition and future activities at the Driskell Center, please call 301.314.2615 or visit www.driskellcenter.umd.edu.