Delaware Art Museum exhibit showcases African American art, culture

The exhibit is called Afro-American Images 1971: The Vision of Percy Ricks.
WILMINGTON, Delaware (WPVI) -- Dr. James Newton and Arnold Hurtt entered a time capsule of sorts on a recent visit to the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, Delaware. There they viewed a restaging of Afro-American Images 1971: The Vision of Percy Ricks.

Newton and Hurtt were able to reflect on some of Ricks' original work, such as Guardian of the Image Makers, 1975.

"I think that's Ricks' masterpiece," said Newton.

Newton describes Ricks as, "an artist, an educator and a scholar."

"I met him in 1968 and he became my mentor until he passed away in 2008," said Newton.

Hurtt says Ricks also became a mentor to him after they met in 1969.

"The wisdom that he had was priceless," said Hurtt.

Newton, an artist, and Hurtt, a musician, both became part of the group Ricks formed in 1971 called Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc.

"That was his vision, to bring artists and musicians under one umbrella," explained Hurtt. "To promote the arts through education."

They say with Ricks' network of artists, the original exhibition was born. It showcased artists from the mid-Atlantic states.

"Mainstream America had not appreciated the aesthetic works of African American art and culture. The result was a new way of philosophical thinking in the art world," said Newton.

Margaret Winslow, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Delaware Art Museum, says that because the exhibition is under documented, they wanted to restage it for its 50th anniversary.

"In this restaging, there are 98 works of art on view," she said.

Winslow says the works of art on display are varied and include sculptures, prints, paintings and collage.

"The piece I have on display, it's a gun collage," said Newton. "A visual statement about what is going on in the world with this gun violence."

Newton says that Ricks' vision was similar to all artists' vision.

"Our art should be exposed and we should be heard. Our voice is just another voice," said Newton.

Newton says many of the artists featured in the 1971 show are well-known African American artists today.

"This show now, it rings of a legacy," explained Newton. "The Vision of Percy Ricks - he was really thinking way beyond his time."

If you'd like to check out Dr. Newton's work, the Delaware Art Museum's restaging of Afro-American Images 1971: The Vision of Percy Ricks runs through Sunday, January 23, 2022.

For more information:
Delaware Art Museum
Afro-American Images 1971: The Vision of Percy Ricks
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