Kinsey’s African-American Art and History Collection Presents First Local Exhibition Since 2007
Awareness of cultural history shapes the future success of the collective community. On January 15, the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection will feature historical moments pointing to the advancement of the black community.
The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University has partnered with the owners and curators of the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection, to present photographs, books, letters and rare manuscripts in the upcoming exhibit, “The Farmers: Highlights from the Kinsey Collection of African American Art and History.” The first screening is January 15, 2022.
The Los Angeles Sentinel had an exclusive interview with one of the pioneers responsible for Kinsey’s collection of African American art and history. Bernard Kinsey spoke about his experience building this legacy with his wife, Shirley Kinsey, and the importance of sharing these works with the next generation.
The mission behind this episode is to display tools forged in antiquity to motivate people of color towards future prosperity. The press release detailing the event said: “The Bernard and Shirley Kinsey Foundation for Art and Education helps educational / cultural institutions educate underserved youth and raise awareness of history and culture. African-American ancestry by exposing and bridging cultural and societal gaps while addressing stereotypes and social ills.
The collection contains contributions from African Americans dating back five centuries. Khalil Kinsey and Larry Earl organized the gallery. These pieces have inspired people around the world, traveling abroad to more than 30 locations. However, the last screening on January 15 will kick off with exclusive installations and host an opening celebration.
Kinsey shared the collection’s prosperity, saying, “The Kinsey Collection has been traveling for 15 years. It has been to 35 cities and has been viewed by over 15 million people. It has been translated into Spanish and Chinese and we have released two books, including one in its fifth edition.
This showcase brings Kinsey’s collection of African American art and history together with her roots, making her first local exhibit since 2007. Attendees can enjoy the rarity found in this collection until March 27, 2022. Viewing art, photographs, rare books, letters, and manuscripts function as a bridge between innovation and history that has developed in the black community.
One of Kinsey’s life-changing pieces was an 1832 bill of sale from an 18-year-old African-American man in Alabama that sold for $ 500. Kinsey said, “I couldn’t believe – one, that people owned other people. Second, I couldn’t believe I was holding this younger brother in my hand. He continued, “It fundamentally changed me …”
Kinsey shared at the time that he told his wife about his quest to find out how America survived thanks to the imbalanced energy encapsulated in racism. He described their adventures in the search for a truth as a “love story” which he shares with his wife.
The production housed at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art will focus on the lives, challenges and successes of African Americans, dating back to the 16th century. The images, documents, and original exhibits carry the narrative of the slave trade, the Civil War, the Harlem Renaissance, and many other landmarks in American history as evidenced by the black experience.
One of the key items mentioned in the official press release are items relating to the 1963 student protests at Florida A&M University. This is important to the founders of the collection – Bernard and Shirley Kinsey began their journey together at Florida A&M before moving to California to continue their education at Pepperdine University.
From their union was born their son Khalil. He became the COO and Chief Curator of the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection and Foundation.
The press release captured a statement from Pepperdine University President Jim Gash: “We are proud to welcome the Kinsey Collection here at Pepperdine.” He continued, “Bernard and Shirley Kinsey are some of our most prestigious alumni and are revered for their leadership in business and education.
“We look forward to seeing how this exhibit will facilitate a better understanding and appreciation of African American contributions and achievements to our country’s history, as well as foster an increased community between Pepperdine and the city of LA.”
The gallery features works of art by “famous people” including Ernie Barnes, John Biggers, Bisa Butler, Elizabeth Catlett, Robert S. Duncanson, Sam Gilliam, Jacob Lawrence, Norman Lewis, Augusta Savage, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Alma Thomas and Charles White.
In conclusion, Kinsey said the collection seeks to inspire everyone from all walks of life. He said: “As much as we have racism here in Los Angeles, we have nothing that people had in the 18th and 19th centuries – in terms of Jim Crow and slavery and things like that.”
Kinsey continued, “So what we’re trying to do is make that motivating… for our fourth graders, which is what we’re mainly focusing on. What we want them to understand is that their limit is the sky, not a two story building.
“If we don’t get our young and old to think bigger about their lives, they won’t be able to compete in this very competitive world called the United States.
Book your visit and access the Weisman Museum’s health and safety protocol information at arts.pepperdine.edu/visit.