Migration, Escape, and Belonging in Carlos Museum’s "Romare Bearden: a Black Odyssey"

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The Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University is proud to present one of the most powerful and original artists of the 20th century in the exhibition "Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey" from December 14, 2013 through March 9, 2014.

Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey

Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey

Bearden's 'Odyssey' series invites a broader examination of African American culture and within the context of migration, escape, and notions of home and belonging.

Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University is proud to present "Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey" from December 14, 2013 through March 9, 2014. In 1977, Romare Bearden (1911-1988) created a series of collages and watercolors based on Homer’s epic poem, "The Odyssey." Bearden’s own "Odyssey" series created an artistic bridge between classical mythology and African American culture. They were displayed for only two months in New York City before being scattered to private collections and public art museums. A new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) represents a full-scale presentation of these works outside of New York City.

Born in Charlotte, N.C., Bearden moved with his family to Harlem as a young child, part of the Great Migration of African Americans from the inhospitable South to greater opportunity in the North. Throughout his career, Bearden created images of the lives of travelers on their way to and from home, a theme no more powerfully explored than in his "Odyssey" series. Bearden had examined classical themes before, but his "Odyssey" series expanded his exploration of literary narratives and artistic genres by presenting his own personal reinterpretation of the subject. Mark Sanders, Chair of Emory University’s Department of African American Studies, said, “As a meditation on the western epic tradition and African American mobility, Bearden's "Odyssey" series invites a broader examination of African American culture and within the context of migration, escape, and notions of home and belonging.”    

In partnership with StoryCorps, the Carlos Museum invites members of the Atlanta community to record, share, and preserve personal or family stories of the Great Migration, or of the migration back to cities in the New South in recent years. For more information, visit the StoryCorps partnership webpage at carlos.emory.edu/storycorps.

"Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey" features 55 works, including collages, watercolors and line drawings as well as additional compositions relating to Bearden's interest in classical themes. The exhibition is curated by English and jazz scholar Robert G. O’Meally, the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature and founder and former director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University.

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"Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey" is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in cooperation with the Romare Bearden Foundation and Estate and DC Moore Gallery. The exhibition and its related educational resources are supported by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Art © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York.

The exhibition in Atlanta has been made possible through generous support from the Massey Charitable Trust, the Coca-Cola Company, and Anthony and Celeste Meier.

About the Michael C. Carlos Museum
The Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University collects, preserves, exhibits, and interprets art and artifacts from antiquity to the present in order to provide unique opportunities for education and enrichment in the community, and to promote interdisciplinary teaching and research at Emory University. The Carlos Museum is one of the Southeast's premier museums with collections of art from Greece, Rome, Egypt, Near East, Nubia, the Americas, Africa, and Asia, as well as a collection of works on paper from the Renaissance to the present. For location and admission information, visit carlos.emory.edu/visit/hours-admission.

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Priyanka Sinha
Michael C. Carlos Museum
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