Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections
The Mint Museum / Charlotte, NC
September 2, 2011 - January 8, 2012
The Romare Bearden exhibition at Charlotte, North Carolina’s new Mint Museum Uptown, on display through January 8th of 2012, celebrates two centenaries: the 100th anniversary of Bearden’s birth in Charlotte in 1911 and the 100th anniversary of the creation of the first “fine art collage” in Sorgues, France in 1912. This is a not-to-be-missed exhibition.
Bearden is the most renowned American collagist. His college educated parents moved their family north from Charlotte when Bearden was just four years old and the artist is often associated with Harlem where he spent many years in his New York studio. While Bearden’s New York experiences added references to jazz and musical instruments to his works, many of his collages focus on iconic images of the African-American lifestyle in the Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, his childhood home.
Approaching the museum, the trees in Charlotte were wearing their full compliment of fall colors, providing a fine introduction to the colorful, high contrast collages in this exhibition. Bearden’s works seem to dance on the walls. Being surrounded by large Bearden collages is breathtaking. His collages are not only layered in their physical construction, they are also layered in the multiple insights they offer into the everyday life of African Americans.
”Most artists take some place, and, like a flower, they sink roots, looking for universal implications,” said Bearden. “My roots are in North Carolina.” The works in this show make it clear that Bearden, in his own words, “never left Charlotte, except physically.”
-- Gretchen Bierbaum, B.A., M.A.
Gretchen Bierbaum, President of the National Collage Society, with one of the collages in Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections. Ms. Bierbaum is author of “Collage in All Dimensions” and “Creating Collage in All Dimensions: Altering and Transferring Images.”