Black Spirit: Works on Paper by Eldzier Cortor
Horses in Classical Art
Indiana University Art Museum
Through July 30
Untitled (Study for "A Song") by Eldzier Cortor
Two uniquely exquisite exhibits are worth the trip to IU-Bloomington. Never heard of Eldzier Cortor? You're not alone, yet in the world of artists he is a living legend, an icon of the African-American experience he expresses through the black woman. Each work is richly imbedded in the essence of the continuity of culture, finding its place within different climes. The 21 works represent 60 years of a career Cortor considers is still in transition.
Cortor grew up in Chicago's South Side. His "Bronzeville" shows dignity of people dealing with poverty. Ink and pastels on paper bring honor to peeling potatoes in "The Task." Fast forward to post WWII, post Rosenwald Foundation fellowships to live with the Gullah, for "Study for A Song." Is it a picture of a Gullah's song about his life as a fisherman? The exhibition catalog raises the question. Cortor's power to suggest a narrative floating free of a man's profile - himself an island in the sea of timelessness - is found throughout his oeuvre.
Free programs on March 30 extend the exhibit. Edmund Barry Gaither, director and curator of the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, speaks on "Variations on Blackness" at 5 p.m. in IU Memorial Union's Frangipani Room. A dance performance at 6:45 at the museum features the African-American Dance Company in Iris Rosa's choreography based on works of Cortor. A reception and gallery tours follow.
The second exhibit, Horses in Classical Art, is a revelation with over 100 representations from IU's holdings of Greek, Etruscan and Roman artists spanning eighth century BCE to fourth century CE. If your antiquities vocabulary is limited to Pegasus and Trojan Horse, you'll leave fully literate, including being "in the know" about Greeks riding nude. From carved gemstones smaller than a fingernail to a hefty rim from a libation basin, "man's noble companion" isn't a beast of burden but the essence of cyclical life-forces - bringer of sun, creator of poetic inspiration, carrier of death.
Indiana University Art Museum is located at 1133 E. 7th St., Bloomington. Log on to www.artmuseum.iu.edu; call 812-855-IUAM.