David C. Driskell Center's Archives Receives Gift of Major Artist's Archive, the Alonzo Davis Collection
November 15, 2022 David C. Driskell Center for the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora
The Driskell Center is proud to announce that the Driskell Center's Archives will be home to the Alonzo Davis Collection, a gift from the artist.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mr. David Conway
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DAVID C. DRISKELL CENTER’S ARCHIVES RECEIVES GIFT OF MAJOR ARTIST’S ARCHIVE, THE ALONZO DAVIS COLLECTION
COLLEGE PARK, MD. – 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, College Park, is proud to announce that the Driskell Center’s Archives will be home to the Alonzo Davis Collection, a gift from the artist in keeping with the mission of the Center to celebrate the legacy of African American artists and to ensure that they become part of the American art canon. The Driskell Center received a major gift from the Mellon Foundation to support this initiative. Davis also graciously donated the Alonzo Davis Fund, which gives an undergraduate art history student the opportunity to work in the Driskell Center’s Archives assisting in the processing of his collection.
ABOUT THE COLLECTION: The acquisition of the Alonzo Davis Collection, the personal and professional archive of artist, educator, gallery owner, Alonzo Davis, brings a new dimension to the Driskell Center’s Archives and represents a significant expansion of the research potential the Center offers.
Currently based in Hyattsville, Md., Alonzo Davis was born in Tuskegee, Ala., and moved to Los Angeles in his early teens. After graduating from Pepperdine University, Davis later earned his MFA in Design and Printmaking at Otis College of Art and Design (then Otis Art Institute) in 1973. It was at Otis that Davis studied with influential artist Charles White (1918-1979). Davis and his brother, Dale Brockman Davis, went on to found the Brockman Gallery in South Los Angeles in 1967. The Brockman, which the brothers owned and operated until 1991, was the first major Black-owned gallery in Los Angeles, furthering the careers of many Black artists. Alonzo Davis became involved in the California mural movement and his well-known mural, Eye on ’84, was created that year to commemorate the Olympics in Los Angeles.
Davis’ vision is often expressed in mixed media works, executed in series, allowing the artist to fully “exhaust” an idea before moving on. Moreover, they often bridge the arts by, for example, involving musicians and dancers to interact with the works, notably with his Power Poles. His artistic practice is informed by a life of travel and ongoing engagement with issues surrounding climate change and the struggle for social justice.
Davis has held numerous positions at academic institutions as a professor and administrator, including The San Antonio Art Institute (San Antonio, Texas) where he was Dean of Academic Affairs and Vice President, and at Memphis College of Art (Memphis, Tenn.) where he was Director of Graduate Studies.
The Driskell Center has begun receiving and creating an initial inventory of the Alonzo Davis Collection. The entire collection, which is expected to reach seventy-five linear feet once it is fully onsite in spring 2023, will include correspondence; journals containing notes and sketches; material related to exhibitions of Davis’ and other artists’ work; materials documenting his travels and residencies at art institutions around the world; materials documenting public art and commissions; documents related to the running of the Brockman Gallery; academic materials; news clippings; ephemera; photographs; 35mm slides; and audiovisual material, all documenting Alonzo Davis’ transcontinental and international career in the arts, now in its seventh decade.
The Alonzo Davis Fund was also generously donated by the artist with the goal of giving undergraduate art history students at the University of Maryland, College Park the opportunity to gain experience working in an archival institution. Our current undergraduate student has begun diligently inventorying the collection this semester and has been a valuable resource and addition to the Driskell Center's Archives Team. This gift offers a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to gain paid experience in the cultural history field, and expands processing capabilities and efficiency at the Driskell Center’s Archives.
ABOUT THE DAVID C. DRISKELL CENTER AND THE CENTER’S ARCHIVES
The David C. Driskell Center honors the legacy of David C. Driskell—a Distinguished University Professor of Art, Artist, Art Historian, Collector, Curator, and Philanthropist—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. All programs at the David C. Driskell Center are free and open to the public. The facility is wheelchair accessible. For further information regarding exhibitions and activities at the Driskell Center, please call 301-314-2615 or visit driskellcenter.umd.edu. The Driskell Center’s programming is supported in part by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council and private donors.
Since 2001, the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, has sought to create an intellectual home for scholars seeking a fuller understanding of the American art canon. That understanding can only come about through a reckoning with the outsized accomplishments of artists of African American and African descent. That was David C. Driskell’s lifelong vision and his motivation for assembling an archive, the David C. Driskell Papers, over the course of five decades, that he would eventually donate to the Center in 2011. The Driskell Center’s Archives has grown to house multiple collections, including the Faith Ringgold Study Room Collection, the Harmon Foundation Papers, the Hayes-Benjamin Papers on African American Art and Artists and now, the Alonzo Davis Collection.