Photographs in the Driskell Center Archives

There has been a lot of progress happening in the David C. Driskell Archives recently. Our Graduate Assistant Molly has been hard at work going through one of the final series which focuses on David C. Driskell’s personal life including various journal entries, personal correspondences, and keepsakes. This is a fascinating part of the Driskell Papers and in a few weeks, Molly will be writing a post about some of the interesting things that she’s found while processing that series. In addition, I’ve been working through some of the video materials which include reel-to-reel films and VHS tapes of lectures by David C. Driskell, awards ceremonies in which he was honored, and various programs he appeared in or helped produce.  We are looking forward to having those all cataloged before the holiday season.

One of the latest activities related to the Driskell Archives has been working with Prof. Driskell in person so that he can provide information about the several thousand photographs in his collection. Though Prof. Driskell already donated and transferred some photographs to the Driskell Center, the majority of them are still held by him, and there are a lot! Our first priority is working with Prof. Driskell and his daughter Daphne Driskell-Coles to identify the thousands of photographs that will be part of the Driskell Papers collection. This past week, I went to Prof. Driskell’s home Maryland to help identify photographs and to begin the photograph inventory. I’m hoping to be able to work with them often over the next few weeks so that we can begin really working with and arranging the photos to make them available for researchers.

Sitting with Prof. Driskell was fascinating as always —for many photos that we went through together, he had a story to tell and could identify who was in the photo and when and where it was taken.

David C. Driskell at his home helping to identify photographs in his collection. David C. Driskell Center Archive. November 19, 2014.

David C. Driskell at his home helping to identify photographs in his collection. Credit: David C. Driskell Center Archive. November 19, 2014.

 

David C. Driskell working to identify photographs in his collection. Take notice of the shelf to the right--those are mostly full of photographs! Credit: David C. Driskell Center Archives. November 19, 2014.

David C. Driskell working to identify photographs in his collection. Take notice of the shelf to the right–those are mostly full of photographs! Credit: David C. Driskell Center Archives. November 19, 2014.

The acquisition of these photographs is an exciting project and we’re looking forward to delving into them more, sharing the project with you, and allowing researchers to integrate the photographs into their research on African American art!

In addition to this exciting project, I wanted to share a video that was created by the University of Maryland about the David C. Driskell Center and the great things that we do here! You can view the video here:

All of us here at the Driskell Center are wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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

New Archives Display for “Heroes: Gone But Not Forgotten – The Art of Charles White”

Tonight, the David C. Driskell Center will be opening its newest exhibition, Heroes: Gone But Not Forgotten – The Art of Charles White which is a collection of the works by the artist Charles White from the Arthur Primas Collection and the David C. Driskell Center Collection. The exhibition features drawings, prints, and paintings that represent the work of one of the most outstanding American artists.

I really enjoy when we have new exhibitions in the Center because it means I get to peruse the archive to find documents for our archives display. With our last exhibition Alison Saar: Still… we focused on David C. Driskell’s relationship with various sculptors since that was the first exhibition featuring only sculptures that we had in our gallery. For this exhibition, it was exciting to focus on only one artist, Charles White, who had a long, steadfast relationship with David C. Driskell.

Within the Driskell Papers’ Artist and Individuals series are several folders dedicated to Charles White. Prof. Driskell and Charles White exchanged letters, which Prof. Driskell kept with several articles and exhibition catalogues about White’s work. I’ve pulled together some of the highlights from these folders and placed them in a display case placed underneath White’s work “I Have a Dream.” The photographs that are included in the display show White working on this piece. Below is a sneak peek of what I found and placed in the display case.

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Archives display for “Heroes: Gone But Not Forgotten – The Art of Charles White.” January 2014. Courtesy of the David C. Driskell Center.

  1. Photographs of Charles White in his studio, c. 1975. These photos were taken while White was being interviewed for the film that accompanied Two Centuries of Black American Art, 1750-1950. Prof. Driskell visited Charles White in his Pasadena, CA studio to conduct White’s interview which appears at the end of the Two Centuries film, which we also have playing on a television in the gallery. The photographs capture White working on his piece “I Have a Dream” in great detail which highlights his technique and style.
  2. Letter from David C. Driskell to Charles White, December 29, 1977. This letter is written by Prof. Driskell to White and I think it’s so interesting that I’m including an image of it below:

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    Letter from David C. Driskell to Charles White (November 29, 1977): Box 44, Folder 25. David C. Driskell Papers: Artists and Individuals, David C. Driskell Center Archive.

  3. Funeral Program for Charles White, November 4, 1979. White passed away on October 3, 1979 at the age of 61. To celebrate his life, there was a “Memorial Jubilee” which featured performances by choirs, a retrospective on his life, and remarks by many people including Betye Saar and Sidney Poitier.
  4. Charles White: Drawings, an exhibition catalogue, 1967. Among the catalogs Driskell kept in his papers are several that feature Charles White in his collection. This particular catalogue is from an exhibition that traveled to Howard University, Morgan State University, and Fisk University in 1967 and has a foreword and introduction written by James A. Porter who was one of Prof. Driskell’s mentors at Howard University.

Heroes: Gone But Not Forgotten – The Art of Charles White is an exhibition that you will not want to miss! Please join us tonight, January 30, 2014 from 5-7PM for our opening reception (no RSVP required) or come to see the exhibition before it closes on May 23, 2014. I hope that you will have a chance to join us either tonight at the opening reception or throughout the course of the exhibition as we celebrate the exquisite work of Charles White. You can learn more about Charles White and the exhibition here. We look forward to seeing you!

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