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‘The Cultivators’ Exhibition Centers African American Narrative in Art and Culture

Untitled, 1951, oil on masonite by Hughie Lee-Smith
(Hughie Lee-Smith, "Untitled", 1951, oil on masonite)
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When Bernard and Shirley Kinsey were newlyweds in the late 1960s, they decided to save one salary and live on the other. This afforded them the opportunity to travel the world, acquire art along the way, and grow an extensive collection piece by piece. The Kinseys tapped into their African American roots and became a powerful force as they cultivated one of the world’s most prestigious collections of African American art, along with rare books, letters and manuscripts that reflect the diverse experiences and cultural achievements of Black Americans over the past five decades.

The Kinsey Collection logo

From Jan. 15 through March 27, you can see The Cultivators: Highlights from the Kinsey African American Art & History Collection at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum located at Pepperdine University, curated by Khalil Kinsey and Larry Earl. The exhibition offers a crucial counter-narrative by placing African Americans at the center, rather than the margins, of American history and includes works by Ernie Barnes, Bisa Butler, Elizabeth Catlett, Sam Gilliam, Jacob Lawrence, Norman Lewis, Augusta Savage, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Charles White, among many others.

Shirley Kinsey recently told NBC’s Today show: “I hope [visitors] walk away being inspired, motivated, and a little bit more educated.”

The opening celebration on Saturday, Feb. 19 from noon until 5 p.m. will feature guided museum tours, along with outdoor food trucks, live music and interactive activities for families. The Kinsey family will also deliver a lecture at 3 p.m., “The Myth of Absence,” in the Elkins Auditorium.

Admission and parking are free, but reservations are required.