Major Progress in Driskell Papers

Despite the snow and wintry weather we’ve had in Maryland over the past few weeks, the David C. Driskell Center Archives staff has been hard at work. We have a lot of goals for this Spring semester, and we recently accomplished two of those goals as our Graduate Assistants Nick Beste and Molly Campbell completed processing Series 4: African American Art and Diaspora and Series 5: Artists and Individuals, respectively. These series are two of the larger ones in the David C. Driskell Papers, and Nick and Molly have worked tirelessly to organize, describe, and preserve the materials that fall into those series. I am happy to report that all the records for the materials in these series are available through our PastPerfect database and are accompanied by descriptions of the series.

Graduate Assistant Nick Beste has been processing the African American Art and Diaspora series (or AAAD as it’s referred to here in the Archives) which pulls together the various materials that Prof. Driskell collected over six decades that helped to inform his own research and lessons as well as the materials for events and exhibitions he attended and/or was invited to. I’ve written about part of this series here, focusing on the Ephemera sub-series, but this series is comprised of a lot more than just ephemera.  As a group, these materials are a great resource for studying the evolution of art and art-related events over the 60 years that Prof. Driskell collected the items. AAAD is split into four sub-series which pull together materials by their function or format:

This series as a whole gives the researcher a first-hand look at what Prof. Driskell found interesting or helpful in his studies and teachings and in his personal life.  It adds a layer of connection to the Driskell Papers.

Our Graduate Assistant Molly Campbell has been working on arranging and describing the Artists and Individuals series since she started working at the Driskell Center Archives. Easily the most complicated and difficult series to process, she’s done a wonderful job making the correspondence that Prof. Driskell has had with various artists, scholars, and individuals in the art community accessible and easy to find. I’ve written about some of the wonderful things to be found in the Artists and Individuals series here, here, here, and here, and in the next few weeks Molly will be writing a post about her experience processing the series and some of the interesting things she found while she was doing it.

As Spring Break approaches, we are in good shape to achieve our goals for this semester. Molly has started arranging Series 2: Educator, which concentrates on Prof. Driskell’s role as a professor, and I have begun to enter information into PastPerfect about the records we have on his role as a curator from Series 3: Exhibitions.  And as these paper materials start coming together, we’ll begin looking at our Audio/Visual and Photographic Materials!

Thank you for staying tuned to the news on the David C. Driskell Papers—it’s a very exciting time here, and we’re looking forward to hopefully seeing many of you as you use the collection!

This post was written by Stephanie Maxwell, Archivist at the David C. Driskell Center Archives.

Reflections on 2013 in the David C. Driskell Center Archives

December is a time when I like to reflect on the past year, so I have been thinking about what we have accomplished, what still needs to be done, and how we can improve our work in the David C. Driskell Archive.  I am very happy with the way things have been progressing with the David C. Driskell Papers: our Graduate Assistants Nick Beste and Molly Campbell have worked diligently to process several series within the Papers, we have streamlined our processes as we continue on with our project, and we have achieved many of our goals for 2013. One of the accomplishments I am most proud of is the online availability of records for several of our series and sub-series, including:

Series 3: Exhibitions, Sub-Series 4: Personal Art Collection
Series 4: African American Art and Diaspora, Sub-Series 2: Ephemera
Series 4: African American Art and Diaspora, Sub-Series 3: Exhibition Catalogues
Series 5: Artists and Individuals (which will be completely processed by the end of January 2014)
Series 8: Organizations

I am very excited to see what 2014 will bring and I hope that you continue to follow us here on the blog as we update you on new and exciting finds, alert you to the newest materials available for research, and highlight interesting aspects of David C. Driskell’s life.

As the year comes to a close, I hope that you’ll look back at some of our posts. Some of the ones that really put the David C. Driskell Papers into perspective for me have been “‘An Idyll of the Deep South’ and David C. Driskell’s Discussion with Aaron Douglas,” “David C. Driskell as Mentor and Mentee,” and “Artists and Individuals: Romare Bearden’s Funeral Program.”

As we move forward with processing the David C. Driskell Papers, our staff will work to provide even more posts and updates that inform and enlighten. We would love to hear from you about what you have found interesting or what you’d like to see in the coming year, so please feel free to leave comments on this post!

The David C. Driskell Archives staff wishes you and yours a happy, healthy, and enjoyable holiday season! We look forward to continuing to blog after the holidays in January 2014.

PS: Stay tuned to the David C. Driskell Center website to hear about our upcoming exhibition Charles White – Heroes: Gone But Not Forgotten, which opens on January 30, 2014. The Archives will be putting together a display similar to what we produced for the Alison Saar: Still exhibition, so we’ll post about that soon!

PPS: The David C. Driskell Center will be closed from December 24, 2013 through January 1, 2014. The Center will reopen on January 2, 2014 at 9:00AM.

This post was written by Stephanie Maxwell, Archivist at the David C. Driskell Center Archives.

Ephemera in the Driskell Papers

As we continue processing the David C. Driskell Papers, I love finding objects that at first glance are seemingly ordinary, only to have been made unique by David C. Driskell. These types of objects have been found throughout the collection, but as our Graduate Assistant Nick Beste processes the series African American Art and Diaspora, we continue to find additional treasures. Split into four sub-series, African American Art and Diaspora pulls together the many exhibition catalogues, ephemera, and files that Prof. Driskell kept on various artists and subjects within the fields of art and African American studies. This series allows us to get a view of the exhibitions and events that Prof. Driskell was interested in and what he found valuable in his research.

Nick has completed processing Sub-Series 3: Exhibition Catalogues, which contains catalogues that Prof. Driskell collected ranging in dates from 1901-2010. Nick has now moved on to organizing Sub-Series 2: Ephemera; ephemera is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “things that are important or useful for only a short time; items that were not meant to have lasting value.”[1]   Ephemera showcase printed material that was originally meant to be transitory but often present an interesting resource. The Driskell Papers collection of ephemera includes invitations to events and exhibitions, exhibition announcements, brochures, newsletters, and newspaper clippings among other items.

As we began sorting through the ephemera, one of the treasures we found was a program from a concert held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC –presented in collaboration with the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences and The National Academies’ African American History Program—which Prof. Driskell attended on February 14, 2010. The concert featured the Ritz Chamber Players performing pieces by Mozart, Anderson, Villa-Lobos, and Dvorak. Upon initial inspection, the program seems generic, but when you open the program to the first page, an insight into Prof. Driskell’s artistic and ever-active mind is revealed:

Front cover of program for Ritz Chamber Players at the National Gallery of Art (February 14, 2010): David C. Driskell Papers: African American Art and Diaspora: Ephemera, David C. Driskell Center Archive.

Front cover of program for Ritz Chamber Players at the National Gallery of Art (February 14, 2010): David C. Driskell Papers: African American Art and Diaspora: Ephemera, David C. Driskell Center Archive.

 

Inside pages of program for Ritz Chamber Players at the National Gallery of Art (February 14, 2010). David C. Driskell Papers: African American Art and Diaspora: Ephemera, David C. Driskell Center Archive.

Inside pages of program for Ritz Chamber Players at the National Gallery of Art (February 14, 2010). David C. Driskell Papers: African American Art and Diaspora: Ephemera, David C. Driskell Center Archive.

These ink sketches feature musicians with their string instruments, presumably the musicians featured in the concert (if you look closely at the left-hand sketch, you can see Prof. Driskell has written “Amadi” which is the first name of the musician Amadi Azikiwe who performed that day). Looking closely at the sketches, you can also see the leaves and nature that surrounds the musicians. Even in an indoor setting, Prof. Driskell brings one of his signature themes—nature—to his work.

This is what is so wonderful about the David C. Driskell Papers—something seemingly ordinary turned into a work of art! We found a lot of interesting things while doing our initial organizing of the sub-series. As Nick takes a more in-depth look at the materials, I’m sure we’ll find additional fascinating objects. This particular part of the collection is a great resource that allows the researcher a view into the life of David Driskell not only as an artist or a curator, but also as an appreciator of and participant in art and culture.

This post was written by Stephanie Maxwell, Archivist at the David C. Driskell Center Archives.  


[1] Definition from Merriam-Websters Dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ephemera