Press Release for Thursday, April 8, 2010

MOCA Jacksonville Exhibit Redefines African American Art

Contact: Carl Holman, Assistant Director

Department of Media Relations and Events

(904) 620-1921

“Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art” will be on view Friday, April 23, through Sunday, August 29, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, a cultural resource of the University of North Florida.

“Tradition Redefined” features 72 works by 67 artists at the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Private art collectors Larry and Brenda Thompson have amassed a remarkable assortment of art by African-Americans from around the nation. The strength of the Thompson’s selecting process lies in their considered attention to artists who have typically not been recognized in the traditional narratives of African-American art.

“The Thompsons have collected works by celebrated artists as well as artists who have been considered emerging, regional or lesser known artists,” said Deborah Broder, director of MOCA Jacksonville. “The result is a collection that redefines the landscape of American art, offering a more in-depth, inclusive understanding of African-American artists and their aesthetic and social concerns.”

Curated by the Driskell Center’s Curator-in-Residence, Dr. Adrienne L. Childs, “Tradition Redefined” presents the breadth of the Thompsons’ art collection that spans from the 1890’s to 2007. The exhibition features works by artists Amiri Baraka, Romare Bearden, Camille Billops, Joseph Delaney, Norman Lewis, Charles E. Porter, William T. Williams and Hale A. Woodruff, among others. Some artists from the Washington, D.C. area are among the exhibit, including Sam Gilliam, Evangeline J. Montgomery, Preston Sampson and Bill Taylor.

Two important exhibiting artists have particular relevance to Jacksonville. Internationally known for her abstract works and a native of Jacksonville, Mildred Thompson has several pieces in the exhibit. Many of her school friends and family still reside locally and remember her passion and determination in becoming a recognized artist. Her work,String Theory VI, is included in the MOCA exhibition and it is comprised of brightly colored modular rush strokes and is derived from her strong connection to music. The painting, “Masks,” by David C. Driskell, credited as being the leading authority on African American art and one of the most recognized living African American painter, will also be on display. In January, Driskell was named the recipient of the Martin Luther King Award by the Jacksonville-based Ritz Chamber Players, the nationally known African American Chamber music ensemble.

In Jacksonville, MOCA has collaborated to celebrate African American artists in the U.S. and in our city. While Tradition Redefined resides at MOCA, LaVilla Museum will feature a juried show of local African American professional artists in an exhibition titled Through Our Eyes 2009-2010, “Each One Teach One: The Artist as Mentor.” Simultaneously, The Art Center Cooperative, in conjunction with JCAAA (Jacksonville Consortium of African American Artists) will feature a show of works by Jacksonville area educators and students titled Traditions Explained: A Visual Expression. These companion exhibitions, along with Tradition Redefined, demonstrate the richness and depth of talent in our African American community.


“Art Matters: Radcliffe Bailey: The African American Narrative”
Wednesday, May 5, 10:30 a.m.

With Dr. Debra Murphy-Livingston, chair of UNF’s Department of Art & Design
MOCA Theater

“Context and Meaning in the Tradition Redefined Exhibition of African American Art “
Thursday, May 13, 6:30 p.m.

With Dr. Debra Murphy-Livingston
MOCA Theater


Sunday, May 23, noon – 4 p.m,
Come celebrate the exhibition Tradition Redefined with fun art activities, performances, and special experiences for the whole family throughout the museum.  
Free admission generously sponsored by Bank of America

Tradition Redefined: A Journey of Sight and Sound

Thursday, June 17, 7 p.m.
A performance showcase of Jacksonville’s leading African American talent in an exciting production on the stage of Theater MOCA.

MOCA Members $5 / Non-members $10

Produced by E3 Business Group, Inc.

The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland celebrates the legacy of David C. Driskell, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Art, Artist, Art Historian, Collector and Curator, by preserving the rich heritage of African-American visual art and culture. Established in 2001, the Center provides an intellectual home for artists, museum professionals, art administrators, and scholars of color, broadening the field of African Diasporic studies. The Driskell Center is committed to preserving, documenting and presenting African-American art as well as replenishing and expanding the field of African-American art. This exhibition is supported, in part by a special fund from the Office of the President at the University of Maryland, College Park, and a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Driskell Center has published an exhibition catalogue with essays by co-owner of the Thompson Collection, Brenda Thompson and professor M. Akua McDaniel, associate professor and chair of the Department of Art at Spelman College in Atlanta. Available at MOCA’s Museum Store, the catalogue also includes artist biographies by Childs. The catalogue for “Tradition Redefined” includes a foreword by the Center’s executive director, Dr. Robert E. Steele, highlighting the importance of collectors to the field of American art in general and African-American art in particular. The catalogue, which can be purchased for $25, includes an exhibition checklist and features color reproductions of all the works exhibited in “Tradition Redefined.” The catalogue is supported in part by a contribution from Larry and Brenda Thompson to the Center’s Visual Arts Program.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, a non-profit, visual arts educational institution, is a cultural resource of the University of North Florida and serves the community through exhibitions, collections, educational programs, outreach and publications designed to enhance an understanding and appreciation of modern and contemporary art with particular emphasis on works created after 1960. One of the largest institutions of its kind in the Southeast, MOCA Jacksonville is funded in part by the University of North Florida; the City of Jacksonville; Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and through the generous support of our members. For more information about MOCA including programs, hours and ticket pricing, please visit on-line at or call (904) 366-6911, ext. 209.