Thursday, January 18th, 2018

“LIFT EVERY VOICE” OPENS JAN.26 — COUNTY RESIDENTS INVITED TO FREE EVENT

Join Morris Arts and Art in the Atrium at the free Jan. 26 public opening of New Jersey’s largest exhibition of African-American art, curated and assembled by Art in the Atrium.

photo of Leroy Campbell's "Quiet Lunch'' -- a colorful portrait of a a black family having lunch on a porch

Leroy Campbell’s “Quiet Lunch”

The free opening reception on Friday,  Jan. 26 from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Atrium Gallery (floors 2-5 of the Morris County Administration & Records Building, 10 Court Street, Morristown), includes music, food and an opportunity to meet the artists. The public opening will include free refreshments in the 4th floor cafeteria.

Running through March 21, the exhibit is entitled Lift Every Voice and highlights the work of Charleston, SC native artist Leroy Campbell, as well as works by Plainfield artist Alonzo Adams, and works by 27 outstanding locally and internationally known African American artists including:

Bisa Butler's "Do No Harm'' -- colorful quilt with three African-American faces

Bisa Butler’s “Do No Harm”

Bisa Butler, Janet Taylor Pickett, Rosalind Nzinga Nichol, Lavett Ballard, Larry Poncho Brown, Carol Bailey, Anthony Gartmond, Ellaree Pray, Les Floyd, Wannetta Phillips, Onnie Strother, Terells Thomas, Andrew Nichols, B. Curtis Grayson, Jackie Collier, Elaine McCrary, Erik J. Montgomery, Bryan Collier, Deb Willis, Jo-El Lopez, Stephen Ellis, Jennifer Mack, Kara Rice, Ron EA Powell and Zaya Grauer.

“We are very proud to offer this exciting art exhibit in our county government gallery, which is open to all residents of Morris County and  the region,” said Morris County Freeholder Christine Myers. “We encourage  students throughout the county  to take the opportunity to visit this exhibit. It is a wonderful opportunity to  explore  art and diversity.”

Leroy Campbell’s art speaks of the contributions to humanity through the African American perspective. More than just art, each piece serves as Campbell’s tithe, as he uses his gifts and talents to teach others about the richness of the Gullah/ Geecheeheritage and the beauty of his people.

Leroy Campbell's "Bible Study'' -- colorful portrayal of prayer featurning three African-Americans, with one in the middle wearing a robe of news reports featuring important African-American people

Leroy Campbell’s “Bible Study”

Leroy Campbell describes humanity like a garden. In the 1300s, Native Americans invented a system of gardening called “Three Sisters,” which involved strategically planting corn, beans, and squash together. The corn provides support and structure for the beans to grow.

While the beans pull nitrogen from the air, returning it to the soil and enriching all the plants. The squash, planted at the base, spreads its large leaves, which offer shade and protection, keeping the soil moist and cool. When each of the plants is whole, thriving and healthy, it is able to reach its full potential and contribute to the garden. If one of the plants becomes sick, it affects the balance of the garden.

Leroy Campbell's "You Are Not A Slave'' -- colorful piece showing an old fashioned school roon and a teacher with three children, with a heavy boxing bag holding the words "You Are Not A Slave''

Leroy Campbell’s “You Are Not A Slave”

Master gardener, painter, storyteller, and lover of souls, Leroy Campbell paints a beautiful hope for humanity through his art and through his words. In telling the stories he knows best, he is offering the wisdom and lessons of the elders as a gift to us all. Campbell’s vision is of a healthy garden, where each is whole, liberated and validated, where people are free to love who they are and in turn nurture others around them.

Leroy Campbell’s paintings, infused with history, tie the past to the present in the practice of sankofa, the understanding that you can’t more forward until you receive the lessons of the past. The vulnerability of his art, his soul, his ability to tell a story through the use of acrylic, paper, tapestries, and organic materials, creates an opportunity for conversation, for something real, for the human connection that we are all desperately seeking.

"Layered Lady'' by Armisey Smith -- shows multi-layered face of a black woman

“Layered Lady” by Armisey Smith

L. Ballard's "Stories My Grandmother Told Me'' -- showing collage of civil rights images and faces on a picket fence background

L. Ballard’s “Stories My Grandmother Told Me”

Art in the Atrium’s annual exhibition is the largest of its kind in the state. “It really helps to expand people’s idea of what African-American art can be,’’ said Victoria Craig. “We have works in all mediums and genres. It’s not just figurative paintings with a mask in them.’’

“This is annually a remarkable exhibition that brings great art and diversity to our county, and makes our county government headquarters a place for beauty and thought,” said Morris County Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. “We invite our county residents, and especially our students, to come here and see these works.”

The non-profit organization, Art in the Atrium, began in 1992 after Victoria Craig’s husband, attorney Charles Craig, noticed that no art works exhibited in the Morristown administration building were by African-American artists.

Dedicated to exhibiting works by emerging and established black artists, Art in the Atrium is a nonprofit volunteer organization whose annual exhibit at the Atrium Gallery is now the largest of its kind in New Jersey, growing from a single floor to currently occupying four full floors of the County Administration & Records Building.

For more information, visit www.artintheatrium.org.

The exhibition is made possible in part by funds from Morris Arts through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Morris Arts is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1973 and dedicated to building community through the arts.