New York University’s 80WSE Galleries are proud to host a three-month exhibition of the work of the historic African-American printmaker, draftsman, painter, and NYU professor Hale Woodruff (1900-1980). The exhibition—titled “Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College”—is on a three-year, nine-city tour and features six large murals by the renowned artist. The NYU exhibition is the only New York location on the tour.
The exhibition will run from Saturday, July 20, through Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, at the NYU 80WSE Galleries, which are located at 80 Washington Square East between West 4th Street and Washington Place on the NYU campus. The exhibition is sponsored by NYU’s Faculty Resource Network and the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
The murals were commissioned by Talladega College in Alabama, which is their permanent home. Woodruff has a deep connection to NYU, where he was a faculty member for more than 20 years.
Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, president of Talladega College, said, “It is an honor for Talladega College to share the exhibit, ‘Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College’ nationally. Renowned artist Hale Woodruff spent the greatest portion of his teaching career at New York University, where he received the Great Teacher Award and where he also retired. I am humbled by this opportunity for Talladega College to display what is referred to as Woodruff’s greatest work here in New York City. Posthumously, we are honoring the legacy that Woodruff created for our institution. This tour allows us to display an important period of American history to the world. The tour has been an endearing journey that puts us on a global stage where we can also showcase the Talladega College experience. We are grateful for the support of New York University in embracing the work of a past colleague and pioneering artist.”
Dr. Debra Szybinski, Executive Director of the Faculty Resource Network, said, “The murals tell the story of the struggle for freedom from bondage and the right to a better life through education. This is not only African-American history—it is our collective American history. It is important that we remember how central this struggle was to who we are as a nation today. We are excited beyond words that Hale Woodruff’s murals have come to New York City through the longstanding partnership between New York University and Talladega College through the Faculty Resource Network.”
Lyle Ashton Harris, an artist and associate professor of art and art professions at NYU Steinhardt, said, "Woodruff was a founding member of 'Spiral,' an African-American arts and civil rights movement established in this very city. He and several other prominent black artists during the 1960s, in downtown Manhattan, sought to explore the role that art plays in the context of culture, race, politics, and society. It's an honor to welcome Mr. Woodruff's masterworks back 'home.' His pieces tell the stories of racial struggle from protests against slavery, to black Americans' resilience and advancement since the end of the Civil War. This exhibit is a powerful chronological account of American history."
Talladega College commissioned Woodruff to paint a series of murals for its newly built Savery Library in 1938. The historically black college was founded in 1867, shortly after the Civil War, by a group of former slaves led by William Savery. Inspired by this history, Woodruff painted six murals between 1939 and 1942 portraying significant events in the journey of African-Americans from slavery to freedom: “The Mutiny on the Amistad,” “The Trial of the Amistad Captives”, “The Repatriation of the Freed Captives”, “The Underground Railroad”, “The Building of Savery Library”, and “Opening Day at Talladega College.”
In 2011, art conservators and handlers from the High Museum in Atlanta initiated a project to preserve and restore the Woodruff murals. Following the 12-month restoration process, the murals began a three-year national tour. The exhibition comes to NYU through the longstanding relationship between NYU’s Faculty Resource Network and Talladega College. Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, in collaboration with Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama.
Woodruff was a faculty member at the NYU School of Education from 1946 to1968, and was also a leading figure in New York City’s black cultural community. Born in Cairo, Illinois, and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Woodruff studied at the John Herron Art Institute (now the Herron School of Art & Design) in Indianapolis and then in France. He returned to America in 1931 and joined the faculty of Atlanta University (later Clark Atlanta University). In 1936, he traveled to Mexico to apprentice with the famous muralist Diego Rivera. In 1943, Woodruff moved to New York and in 1946 joined the NYU faculty where he was an art instructor until his retirement in 1968.
His commitment to the university and education will be remembered through a Steinhardt curriculum now under development that will be dedicated to the history of the Amistad and historically black colleges and universities.
About the Faculty Resource Network (FRN)
The FRN, now in its 28th academic year, is a national consortium based at New York University that has been nationally acclaimed for its unique and successful approach to providing professional development opportunities for faculty members at its partner institutions, the majority of which are minority-serving. The current membership includes 55 colleges, spanning 18 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and Europe, with our newest member of the Network, the American College of Greece, initiating our global network expansion. To learn more about the Faculty Resource Network, visit www.nyu.edu/frn.
About the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development (@nyusteinhardt)
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media, and psychology. Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School's mission has been to explore the human experience through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice. To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu.
The 80WSE Galleries, located on the east side of Washington Square Park between West 4th St. and Washington Place. 80WSE is an extension of the department of Art and Art Professions in the NYU Steinhardt School. The 80WSE Galleries display exhibitions curated by faculty, students, and alumni, as well as experimental projects by noted curators. To learn more about 80WSE, visit: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/80wse.