The Everson Museum of Art recently made a sale of $12 million, which provided funding now being used to diversify the museum’s collection.
Elizabeth Dunbar, CEO and art director at the museum spent more than two decades in the art world. Her career brought her from California to Syracuse.
“I guess I’ve been in the museum business for— well how old am I?” Dunbar said. “It’s been a wild six year and we’ve done a lot,” she said.
In all that time, she experienced a field always striving to be diverse, including many voices in the pieces highlighted.
In October the Everson Museum of Art sold a painting by Jason Pollock for $12 million. That money is being spent for diversifying the museum’s collection.
In December, the museum acquired these paintings.
“In this one you can see how she’s stitched the sweater together and mapped it on this grid here,” she said.
Each piece from these artists speaks to issues of equality, race, violence and more. One is made of clothing worn by women activists.
Another called Protest Shield #2 mixes black power symbols with African history.
Some are from artists right here in Syracuse. Dunbar highlighted a piece by Ellen Blalock, which used two quilts.
“A fabric sandwich if you will,” she said.
As beautiful as each piece is, they capture hard truths. Some highlight violence and racism that still plague our world.
“In the wake of George Floyd’s murder we felt we were moving more diverse with our exhibition schedule and our collection practices. But really with that impetus behind us we felt we had to move more quickly,” Dunbar said.
Talking to Elizabeth, it’s clear that the work is far from down. But all journeys require some rest to see how far you’ve come.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished and growing the collection in different ways and engaging the community,” she said.
The artists featured in the piece include Sharif Bey, Ellen Blalock, Dawn Williams Boyd, and Ellen Lesperance.
To see all of the museum's recent acquisitions visit this link.