Barbara Bullock: Fearless Vision
About the Exhibition
Woodmere Art Museum is pleased to present Barbara Bullock: Fearless Vision, a retrospective of the artist’s illustrious career. Fearless Vision will showcase Bullock’s development over sixty years of creative practice, from the paintings and drawings of the late 1960s and 1970s to the cut, painted, and sculpted works in heavy-weight paper she is known for today. The exhibition will demonstrate the artist’s participation in a national movement in the arts to strengthen Black identity through explorations of African art, music, and dance and the impact of her extensive travels through Africa and the Caribbean.
Socially-driven artists are accepted as part of the mix in the arts today, but this was not always the case. Bullock stands out as a pioneering figure in Philadelphia whose work extends outside the studio and into the city, especially into the city’s Black communities, with an embrace of African art as inspiration, declaration of strength, and path to reclaiming an ancestral cultural identity. Forcefully, but gently with the beauty of her art and teaching, Bullock takes a stand for social justice, working in the cultural and educational spheres of Philadelphia. Fearless Vision shows how Bullock’s studio practice evolved in dialogue with her work as both educator and social activist, exploring the cross-fertilization of ideas about art and social healing.
Bullock worked in K-12 schools, museums, community organizations, senior centers, and public spaces. Her long-term leadership of the art programs at the Ile-Ife Black Humanitarian Center (1971-1975) and Prints for Progress (1980-1993) were seminal experiences in her creative practice. The exhibition will include many of the objects that Bullock made to inspire students and participants in community projects such as game boards, pop-up books, hats, fans, boxes, altars, and miniature theaters. They share a vocabulary of figurative elements, animal forms, patterns, textures, and colors that characterize Bullock's studio practice.
Woodmere collaborated with independent art historians and curators Leslie King Hammond and Lowery Stokes Sims in preparing an oral history with Bullock that is transcribed as a central element in the accompanying catalogue publication. The catalogue will include a chronology of education projects that follows the artist’s archive and lesson plans donated by Bullock to Woodmere’s historic archives of Philadelphia’s artists. The catalogue will be available at the Woodmere Art Museum Store.
Support for Barbara Bullock: Fearless Vision is provided by The Edna Wright Andrade Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, the William M. King Charitable Foundation, Robert and Frances Kohler, the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, The Dorothy del Bueno Endowed Exhibition Fund at Woodmere, the Nixon Family on behalf of James V. Nixon, Jr., and other generous contributors, including those who wish to remain anonymous. Woodmere thanks the Lomax family and WURD, who are the exhibition’s media partners.
Take a creative journey into the world of batik and Adire (tie & dye) textile-making and discover the influence of the vibrant world of African textiles and their deep cultural significance. Drawing inspiration from his Yoruba roots and Nigerian heritage, Muyiwa, an expert in the field, will guide you through the process of using wax and dye to create intricate patterns and motifs. You will start by applying hot wax to 100% cotton fabrics to create patterns, then immerse them in vibrant dyes. Finally, we'll carefully remove the wax, revealing beautiful, colorful designs. You may infuse your designs with your unique voice, or use African patterns to create beautiful cotton fabric or a cotton shirt. By the end of the class, you'll have crafted textiles that reflect the beauty and essence of African traditions.
Drawing on three themes and titles from Barbara Bullocks' artwork, this program features the human voice singing texts that amplify or comment on titles of various artworks. The first theme, "Stories my Grandmother Told Me," is a collection of works including Nigerian folksongs, songs about intergenerational connectedness and community, and texts drawn from Pennsylvania Dutch samplers. The second theme, "Most Precious Blood," features music that speaks to police violence towards Black men as well as the Christian concept of the sacredness of Jesus's blood. Finally, in "Spirit House", we explore themes of the afterlife, spirits, ancestors, and housing security.
The choir at St. Thomas, Whitemarsh consists of trained choral singers and volunteers who love singing. We have an equal commitment to musical excellence and caring community, and we believe that those two concepts reinforce each other. We sing a wide spectrum of music: ninth century chants to works composed this year; music from the Black Church tradition and music from English cathedrals, and everything in between. The choir was recently invited to sing at St. Thomas' Fifth Avenue in NYC.