Artists included in What Music is Within:
“My poetry, I think, has become the way of my giving out what music is within me.” ― Countee Cullen
At a time when American museums are reassessing the history of 20th century art by correcting the omissions of the past and including more artists of color in meaningful and significant ways in collections and exhibitions, What Music is Within: Black Abstraction from the Permanent Collection presents some of the strongest voices from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s permanent collection. These works use abstraction as a powerful modality of expression. Each of these artists project their own voice to convey their individual visions. With work that spans almost five decades, this exhibition includes masters such as Sam Gilliam and emerging practitioners like Horton Humble. The critical contributions of Xavier University, a keystone New Orleans art program, is also strongly represented through artists John T. Scott, Ron Bechet, Martin Payton and Jeffrey Cook.
The creative process is a highly individual and personal endeavor – a way of giving physical form to abstract ideas or emotions. The African American artists in this exhibition all have deep ties to the American South and they each create through the language of abstraction. Yet, even with those shared elements of identity, they maintain strong unique voices, expressing, as Countee Cullen wrote, “what music is within.”