Santa Monica Lookout
“African-American Treasures” on Display at Santa Monica College
By Lookout Staff
January 31, 2012 -- A unique collection of artworks and artifacts that documents the hardships and triumphs of African Americans over nearly four centuries will open at Santa Monica College February 12.
“African American Treasures: History and Art from the Collection of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey” – which will be on display through March 9 -- features 26 original art works and nearly 40 original items, artifacts, articles, posters, graphics, writings, photos and books, college officials said.
Viewed by more than 3 million people nationwide, the collection includes a copy of an early version of the Emancipation Proclamation, correspondence between Malcolm X and Alex Haley and a reproduction of a 1773 first-edition copy of poems by Phillis Wheatley.
“This is an extraordinary collection that will give our students and community a unique and up-close perspective on the profound African American cultural and historical impact on the United States,” said Marian Winsryg, director of the Santa Monica College Pete & Susan Barrett Art Gallery.
Each piece – displayed in chronological order with original art works interspersed throughout -- is accompanied by detailed information explaining its significance, Winsryg said.
“The Kinseys, of Pacific Palisades, have explored and celebrated their African American heritage by collecting items of historical and cultural significance throughout their more than 40-year marriage,” gallery officials said.
Since it began touring in 2006, the collection has been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the California African American Museum in Los Angeles and the Norton Museum of Art, among others.
The SMC exhibit is the first time pieces from the collection have been at an institution of higher education.
“We love talking to young people about American history and the achievements of the African American community,” said Bernard Kinsey, who has lectured with his wife at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and China.
“Our collection brings to light the extraordinary triumphs and accomplishments of our ancestors, and in doing so gives these individuals a voice, a personality and a name,” he said.
The Kinseys met as students at Florida A&M University and eventually moved to Los Angeles. After retiring as a vice president of Xerox Corp. in 1991, Bernard Kinsey was appointed by then-Mayor Tom Bradley to co-chair Rebuild Los Angeles, aimed at attracting investments to the city after the 1992 riots.
As a business consultant, he has provided economic advice to governments all over the world.
The show, which has toured eight cities, will be displayed during African American Heritage Month, from February 12 to March 9. An opening reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., preceded by a book signing and gallery tour led by the Kinseys from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Kinseys will give a multi-media presentation on the collection at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 at The Broad Stage, SMC Performing Arts Center.
Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The gallery is in the SMC Performing Arts Center on Santa Monica Boulevard at 11th Street. Call (310) 434-3434.
An illustrated, 198-page coffee table book, “The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey – where Art and History Intersect,” accompanies the exhibition. Copies of the book will be on sale in the Art Gallery and at www.thekinseycollection.com.
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