ASU will display a collection of African-American art

July 10 – ALBANY – Albany State University announced in a news release that an art exhibit for “Memories and Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art,” celebrating the passion of an ordinary couple who spent more of 35 years as dedicated connoisseurs, building a collection of vivid works of art that are both resonant and remarkably personal, will be exhibited in the Arthur R. Berry Gallery at ASU Dr. Joseph W. Holley Fine Arts Center through August 24.

Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, or by appointment. Interested parties may contact Charles Williams at [email protected] to inquire about individual or group visits.

“Memories and Inspiration: The Kerry and S. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art” consists of 67 selected works of art collected over 35 years. Kerry Davis, a retired postman, and Betty Davis, a former television news producer, happily gave up many ordinary comforts to live with extraordinary paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures as their ultimate luxury.

Their collection includes works by Romar Bearden, Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, Ernest T. Cricklow, Sam Gilliam, Lois Maylou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Alma Thomas, and Charles White, but the Davises do not exclusively seek well-known and/or documented artists. Rather, Davis says, they focus on the more meaningful task of collecting and preserving a range of artistic approaches to the black image to comfort the psyche and contribute to a more authentic articulation of the self.

The result is an eclectic collection of works cutting across media, themes and styles from a group of artists from the African diaspora who—in terms of training, experience and expression—are strikingly diverse yet unified in their use of cultural and historical narratives.

As their collection grew, so did the Davies’ storehouse of memories of discovering new works of art, building friendships with artists, and talking with museum professionals and other collectors in their home. Memories and Inspiration brings together an inspiring selection of works, but their personal resonance – their connection to the hopes, passions and everyday lives of the Davies family – is what gives the collection its unique power.

Kerry Davis, a native of Atlanta, is a former United States Air Force Sergeant, a retired United States Postal Service carrier, and an ordained deacon. He began collecting art in the mid-1980s in partnership with his wife Betty, who shared his passion.

Originally started with the modest goal of enhancing the interior decor of their mid-century split-level home in suburban Atlanta, the Davis family’s collection has grown to more than 300 works by some of the most prominent African-American artists of the 20th century . Inspired by previous generations of African American art collectors who understood the importance of preserving cultural expression, memory and imagery, Davis strives to contribute to this legacy and be a source of inspiration to others in the community.

The Davis residence—dubbed the “House Museum” by neighbors, parishioners and friends—served as a meeting place and cultural center for artists, collectors and art enthusiasts. Kerry and Betty have two children and one granddaughter.

International Arts & Artists in Washington, DC is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to increasing intercultural understanding and exhibiting the arts internationally through exhibitions, programs and services for artists, arts institutions and the public. For more information, visit ArtsandArtists.org.

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