The traveling exhibition Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art presents more than sixty works selected from a body of art amassed over 35 years by a working-class couple. Kerry, a retired mailman, and Betty, a former television news producer, gave up many ordinary comforts in order to live with extraordinary paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures as their principal luxuries. Their collection includes works by Romare Bearden, Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, Sam Gilliam, Loïs Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Alma Thomas, and Charles White, but Kerry and Betty do not search exclusively for well-known and/or documented artists. Rather, they focus on the more meaningful task of gathering and preserving a range of artistic approaches to the Black image, in order to console the psyche and contribute to a more authentic articulation of the self.

The result is an eclectic gathering of works of art crossing different mediums, subjects, and styles by a group of artists of the African Diaspora who—in terms of training, experience, and expression—are strikingly diverse but unified in their use of cultural and historical narratives. As their collection has grown, so has the Davises' storehouse of memories of discovering new works of art, building friendships with artists, and conversing with museum professionals and other collectors in their home. Memories & Inspiration brings together an awe-inspiring selection of works, but it is their personal resonance—their connection to the Davises’ hopes, passions, and everyday lives—that gives the collection its unique power.

Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art was organized and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.

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Image: Yashua Klos, Coby, 2003, graphite. Photograph by Gregory Staley. © 2018 Yashua Klos.

This companion exhibition to Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art features works of art in a variety of media and styles. Subjects depicted include folk and traditional landscapes or still lifes by John Wesley Hardrick, Richard Mayhew, and Joseph Yoakum; abstract and non-objective art by Richard Hunt and Martin Puryear; and art addressing social justice issues by Elizabeth Catlett, Marion Epting, and Jacob Lawrence.

In addition, the display introduces a gift of nearly 1,000 drawings by Joseph Delaney alongside recent purchases of art by Charles White and Dox Thrash. A final section presents paintings and a print by contemporary visual artist and educator Darius Steward. Viewers are further encouraged to seek out works by African American artists exhibited throughout the museum’s galleries, including jewelry by Art Smith, a flag painting by June Edmonds, and a bronze sculpture by Richard Hunt.

As a world art museum, the David Owsley Museum of Art exhibits a diverse and inclusive collection that represents people and cultures from nearby and around the globe. As part of its mission, DOMA presents temporary exhibitions and continues the systematic acquisition of works by African Americans and artists of the African diaspora. 

Image: Dox Thrash, American (1892 – 1965), Construction Workers, Philadelphia, about 1945, oil on board, Purchase: Ball Brothers Legacy Endowment, 2020.010.001. © artist’s estate

The David Owsley Museum of Art proudly hosts engaging exhibitions from across the globe for our University community and other diverse audiences to enjoy. Take a look at our past exhibits to see what we've historically displayed.

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David Owsley Museum of Art

2021 W. Riverside Avenue
Muncie , IN 47306

9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. (Tuesday–Friday)
1:30–4:30 p.m. (Saturday)


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