Museum of Art to premiere ‘Black Life’ exhibition Saturday

Cultural experience will combine with artistic expression at the Springfield Museum of Art’s (SMOA) newest major exhibit.

“Black Life as Subject Matter II” will use “visual voices” to all aspects of the American Black experience when its opens with over 50 works from more than 25 Black artists from throughout Ohio, including Springfield and the Miami Valley. An exhibition opening will be 5-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23 at the SMOA, 107 Cliff Park Road.

The exhibition will be on display at the McGregor Gallery through Feb. 27.

“Subject Matter I” occurred five years ago at Dayton’s Victoria Theatre as a regional exhibition, and this second installment was previewed earlier this year, curated by celebrated Dayton artist Willis “Bing” Davis at his gallery. Willis had reached out to SMOA leadership several months before with a proposal for an expanded version of the show.

This allows more than double the amount of work, which will include paintings, drawings, sculptures of ceramic and textiles, paper collages and more. The preview just comprised Miami Valley-area artists, but the reach was broadened to include artists from major Ohio cities including, Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland

“It’s very multi-faceted,” said Elizabeth Wetterstroem, SMOA exhibitions and collections manager. “It’s a chance for Black artists to share their insight, understanding and appreciation and looking at multiple personal aspects of what is going on in.”

She said the SMOA strives to stage exhibitions that are relevant and offer a variety of perspectives.

Some of the works will also contain QR codes that visitors can scan with their phones to hear an audio clip from the artist on their work. The idea is to connect the idea of artists as storytellers.

Those who ride Springfield buses can also find out about the works on ads during their rides as the QR codes will also be featured on them.

Saturday’s exhibition opening will begin at 5 p.m. followed by the galleries at 5:30 and opening remarks at 6:15. Davis and many of the featured artists will attend.

Heavy hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar and live music will be part of the experience. Admission is $5 for non-SMOA members and free for members.

Attendees are required to wear masks and socially distance. Wetterstroem said the number of visitors who can be in a gallery at one time will be limited for safety considerations.

While the exhibition itself is a draw, it has inspired another component that will lend more insight into the subject matter.

The SMOA will offer monthly community conversations events addressing issues affecting Black communities and moderated by a featured artists in the exhibition, community leaders and SMOA leaders. The sessions are free and open to the public.

The first will be 2 p.m. Nov. 13 and led by Davis and manager from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati and then continue monthly through February.

The programs stem from the SMOA being a Smithsonian Affiliate and a chance to go just beyond exhibiting art, but making it conversation-starter.

“We as a museum hope to be a leader on having challenging conversations in our community,” said Amy Korpieski, SMOA museum educator.

Exhibition funding is from the Ohio Humanities Council and Arts Midwest along with various partners.

The SMOA is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 12:30-4:30 p.m. Sundays.


What: “Black Life as Subject Matter II” exhibition opening

Where: Springfield Museum of Art, 107 Cliff Park Road, Springfield

When: 5-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23

Admission: $5 non-museum members; free for members

More info:

About the Author