Dates: 1991 – present
I have long supported equity, diversity and inclusion through involvement in the arts. As a respected arts supporter and activist collector of African diaspora contemporary art for three decades, along with my husband Josef, our mission has been to champion artists from underrepresented backgrounds. I have worked on exhibitions, loaned countless works from our Collection annually to museums across the globe, provided financial support, traveled with artists, curators and arts organizations on research trips across Africa, and serve on museum committees to further heightened dialogue and enlightenment of our shared social conscience. Our collection began with contemporary artists from South Africa in the days following the election of Nelson Mandela. As artists began to immigrate throughout Europe and the United States, the collection expanded to follow. Over the last decade, the Collection has shifted to focus on social justice and gender narratives within the Black and Latinx community. Many of the artists encompass their work with visual and social elements that aim to provoke viewers into awareness or else social action.
Our Collection highlights include Kehinde Wiley’s Young Man Holding a Skull (2013), Amy Sherald’s Saint Woman (2016), Toyin Ojih Odutola’s In This Imperfect Present Moment (2016) and (2006), Hank Willis Thomas’ Raise Up (2014), Christina Quarles’ Vulgar Moon (2016), El Anatsui’s Takpekpe (Conference) that was included in the artist’s first solo Gallery show in NYC is on museum long-term loan. A 2019 acquisition of Betye Saar’s Cage in the Beginning (2016) one of the artist’s first assemblage sculptures using cages is currently on long-term loan to Seattle Art Museum.
Recent acquisitions of emerging artists include Kwesi Botchway, Cassi Namoda, Tiffany Alfonseca, Raelis Vasquez, Joiri Minaya, Naudline Pierre, Eniwaye Oluwaseyi, Sable Elyse Smith, Basil Kincaid, Gregory Olymio, EJ Hill, Alvin Armstrong, Jacoby Satterwhite, Texas Isaiah, Kenturah Davis.
For almost three decades, our commitment and goal as collectors has been to support artists from underrepresented backgrounds — not just financially — but helping disseminate the work to a wider audience by working with museums, curators, collectors and other arts organizations. Some of this is done directly by serving on Museum Boards or committees such as Equity, Education, Community Engagement and Development. Other efforts include working with curators to develop shows and to support their effort to travel these shows to other museums. Finally, I have worked on projects with other museums and art organizations including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, where I participated in leading the successful fundraising for the Obama portraits and recently completed fundraising efforts to bring in another Black portrait created by a New York Times featured artist. Efforts can also be as diverse as responding to a request for a single loan or as large two dozen works, helping to publish monographs or even hosting events, tours and talks to nurture future connections which in 2020 meant transitioning to Zoom and virtual art presentations.
As other collectors have done, since quarantine began, we have increased our support of emerging and underrepresented artists. Recent acquisitions include numerous works from across three continents, focusing on portraiture, race, LGBTQ issues as well as social and political narratives. At the core of this effort remains our interest in these artists, the privilege of getting to ‘virtually’ meet them and gain a deep understanding of their work and narrative. We have learned that underneath it all, art has the power to change, educate, heal and inspire.