PULLMAN, Wash. — The Washington State University Museum of Art opens its fall season with the works of 24 prominent African American women Sept. 7 on the Pullman campus.
“Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists” features more than 60 prints, drawings, mixed-media installations and sculpture by artists including Elizabeth Catlett, Stephanie Anne Johnson, Lois Mailou Jones, Howardina Pindell, Faith Ringgold, Betye and Allison Saar, Lorna Simpson and Carrie Mae Weems. The exhibit that makes its only Northwest appearance in Pullman continues through Oct. 10.
The exhibit draws from and expands upon the African American experience as it addresses the issues of history, ethnicity, gender, age, class, religion, sexual orientation, marginalization and invisibility, topics that warrant examination by African American women in particular.
“These women and their works are powerful and provocative, capable of standing alone or with each other … they, like the exhibition itself, are creative acts of resistance and empowerment,” says exhibit curator Jontyle Robinson, a member of Atlanta’s Spelman College art history faculty.
Organized by Spelman College, the exhibit debuted in spring 1996 at the college’s newly opened Museum of Fine Art in the Camille Hanks Cosby Academic Center. The opening coincided with the 115-year anniversary of Spelman, the first college in the world founded for black women.
Several special programs will be presented by the Museum of Art in conjunction with “Bearing Witness.”
— On Sept. 14 from 7-9 p.m. a reception hosted by the Friends of the Museum of Art is planned for the Fine Arts Center lobby on the Pullman campus. A performance by the WSU Theatre Dancers, directed by dance instructor Phyllis Gooden-Young of the WSU School of Music and Theatre Arts, will be featured in the museum during the reception. Music will be provided by a jazz quartet, organized by Horace Young, School of Music and Theatre Arts faculty member.
— On Sept. 16, artist Stephanie Anne Johnson will present a 7:30 p.m. lecture, “Art as Social Action: Dismissing Mythology, Dismantling Hierarchy,” in the Fine Arts Center Auditorium. Johnson, who is the featured artist in a related exhibition at WSU Spokane, will be in Pullman Sept. 15-18 as an artist-in-residence. While in Pullman, she will be working with students from the university’s fine arts department and presenting workshops for area children.
— In conjunction with the presentation of “Bearing Witness,” the Museum of Art in cooperation with WSU Spokane will present “Stephanie Anne Johnson: Recent Work”
Sept. 13-30 in the Interdisciplinary Design Institute Gallery on the WSU Riverpoint campus. Johnson, one of the artists featured in “Bearing Witness,” is a professor at California State University at Monterey Bay and a professional lighting designer who works nationally and internationally in theater and film. She will be in Spokane to present a 7 p.m. lecture on Sept. 17 in the IDI Auditorium. The gallery and auditorium are located in the Phase One Classroom Building, Riverpoint Higher Education Park, 668 N. Riverpoint Drive, Spokane. Gallery hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Free parking is available and the gallery is handicapped accessible.
Visitors to the Museum Sept. 28 will be entertained by the WSU Jazz Vocal Ensemble, directed by Young. The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Museum gallery.
— The life and work of Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Marlon Riggs will be the subject of special Tuesday night video programs at the Museum. The video trilogy on the black, gay male experience includes “Ethnic Notions” (1987), “Color Adjustment” (1990), and “Tongues Untied” (1991), and will be presented in the Museum gallery at 5 p.m. on Sept. 21 and Oct. 5. Marlon Riggs is the subject of a work by artist Faith Ringgold featured in “Bearing Witness.”
Docent tours of the exhibition for groups of four or more can be arranged by calling the Museum office at 509/335-1910. The WSU Museum of Art is open Monday-Friday,
10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Tuesday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 p.m., with extended hours for football Saturdays and some other special events. The gallery is wheelchair accessible. All events are open to the public without charge.
Parking permits for weekday visitors may be purchased at the Cougar Depot at Davis Way (Hwy. 270) and State Street, or at WSU Parking Services on Wilson Road, directly uphill from the Fine Arts Center. On weekday evenings, parking is available in the Fine Arts parking structure, off Stadium Way at Grimes Way, for an hourly fee. Weekend parking is free. Call
509/335-1910 for more information.
Funding for museum exhibitions and programs is provided by WSU, the Friends of the Museum of Art and private donors. A portion of the museum’s general operating funds for this fiscal year has been provided through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency providing general operating support to the nation’s museums. Additional support for “Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists” has been provided by the African-American Voice; the Kenneth and Marleen Alhadeff Foundation; the Delta Air Lines Foundation; the Washington State Arts Commission; the National Endowment for the Arts; the WSU Visual, Performing and Literary Arts Committee; Pullman Kiwanis Club; and private donors.

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“Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists” is toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance and sponsored by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund. The H&R Block Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Phillips Petroleum Foundation, and the Union Pacific Foundation provide additional support to ExhibitsUSA. Mid-America Arts Alliance is assisted by its six partner state arts agencies, the National Endowment for the Arts, and private contributors.