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Benny Andrews: A Georgia Artist Comes Home

Jul 7, 2007 - Sep 15, 2007
10am - 5pm

MOCA GA payed tribute to the significant contributions of one of Georgia’s leading African-American artists with this solo exhibition.  Guest curated by Louisa McIntosh, this exhibition featured major works by Georgia artist, Benny Andrews from public and private collections around Georgia.  In celebration of this important artist, MOCA GA organized two shows of his work, one in Atlanta, and one at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, located in Andrews’ hometown.  This collaboration enabled MOCA GA to provide access to its exhibitions and programming for a broader and more diverse audience beyond Atlanta.  Nationally recognized as an artist, teacher, author, activist, and advocate of the arts, Andrews passed away in November of 2006, as this exhibition was in development.  The artist was a vivid storyteller, using memories of his childhood in the segregated South to create narrative-based works that addressed human suffering and injustice.  He explored American life in his collages, prints, paintings, and drawings by fusing memory and imagination.  The guest curator, Louisa McIntosh, was the owner and Director of the McIntosh Gallery in Atlanta for 20 years, and represented Andrews for many years.  She is recognized for her early support of diverse and under-represented artists, both locally and nationally.

“Disproving the axiom that ‘you can’t go home again,’ Benny Andrews did come home to his native Georgia where his work is both respected and collected.   The art in this exhibition has been assembled from the collections of individuals and businesses and museums based in Georgia. As I talked with ‘collectors’ who have now become “lenders” I saw the unique quality of Benny’s work and the close personal relationship that developed between the collected art and the collector. While it has been with some reluctance, most of the potential lenders whom I have approached have generously consented to share their art with us for a brief period of time and we are grateful.

I count it as one of life’s blessings that I knew and worked with Benny Andrews over a period of many years. Through his penetrating perception of the world around him he could express equally well, with words or with paint, joy, sorrow, pain and exultation. There have been other prominent African American artists before him, but I believe that Andrews’ insight into the human condition as revealed in his work has done more than that of any other artist to bridge the gap between races. Few artists have demonstrated the ability to capture an experience that unites all segments of society.   Today the work of Benny Andrews is welcomed and admired in rural Morgan County, where he grew up under impoverished circumstances, as well as among the most sophisticated circles of Atlanta.

I grieve for the loss of Benny Andrews but find gratification in the presence of his work.”                                                                                    

-Louisa McIntosh, Curator

“With one sweep of a brush, one stroke of a pencil, he revealed the essence of the human spirit. His work is inspiring. It is so uplifting and so powerful. But it is never style without substance. It is always honest, always true, always good and decent, just like the man himself.”

-Congressman John Lewis