Seen Unseen: The Black Image in American Art (From the Collection of John H. Surovek)

 
Green Eyes, 1988
Stephen Scott Young,
Watercolor and drybrush on paper,
Collection of Mr. John H. Surovek
Focusing on the depiction of African Americans in art from the pre-Civil War era through the Civil Rights era, the David Owsley Museum of Art Ball State University presents Seen Unseen: The Black Image in American Art. The works are on loan from the collection of Ball State University alumnus John H. Surovek, an art collector and proprietor of the John H. Surovek Gallery in Palm Beach, Florida. The exhibition includes works by well-known American artists including Thomas Hart Benton, Norman Rockwell, and Andrew Wyeth, and covers a major historical period of American history. “These are works of historical significance because they reveal attitudes about race over an extended period of time,” said Director Peter Blume.

Earlier works in the exhibition often treat African-Americans more as objects propagating a stereotype. This slowly changes as the twentieth century progresses and the artists represent their subjects with more complexity and understanding. Work by contemporary artist Stephen Scott Young will also be on view. Young, a Florida artist featured in Surovek’s gallery, won a first prize at the American Artist’s national art competition in watercolors. Blume notes that Young’s work offers a fitting bookend for those looking at the works from sociological and historical perspectives. “You can see a significant shift over the course of the century,” Blume said. “And when you look at Stephen Young’s portraits, you see a very different attitude in the way he addresses his subjects, an attitude that is very obviously at odds with the attitudes of the late nineteenth century.”

Exhibition Date: September 17, 2010 – December 5, 2010