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  showcases 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 demonstrates 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 includes 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 is available at the Woodmere Art Museum Store and through Amazon at Barbara Bullock: Fearless Vision: Art Museum, Woodmere, Wei, Tess, Brown, Elbrite, Valerio, William R., Bullock, Barbara, Sims, Lowery, King Hammond, Leslie, Pieri, Diane, Tow, Hildy: 9781888008104: Books.

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.

Teacher Workshop: Artmaking & Education Inspired by the Art of Barbara Bullock 
Art Educators: Elbrite Brown and Hildy Tow
Saturday, January 13| 10 am-1 pm | 3 PA hours 
REGISTRATION FOR THIS PROGRAM IS CURRENTLY FILLED. If you would like to be added to a waiting list for the program, please email Amanda Monroe at
Be inspired by the art projects and artworks of Barbara Bullock, one of the region's most notable and revered artists and educators. 
Enrich your students' artmaking experiences with new ways of seeing and transforming materials. Learn techniques for creating painted papers, combining abstraction with representation, and assembling 2-D and 3-D paper collages into portraits, creatures, pop-up books, and more. This workshop will reference the influence of African art and culture on Bullock's art and provide ideas for interdisciplinary activites. 
Demonstrations, studio practice, (materials provided), lesson plans, and a brief tour of Woodmere Art Museum's current exhibition, Barbara Bullock: Fearless Vision are included. 
Feminist Focus: Fifty Years of Women’s Art in Philadelphia
In partnership with the Re-Focus (1974-2024) exhibition at Moore College of Art & Design 
Saturday, January 13, 2024  | 2 pm
Lecturer: Patricia Likos Ricci, Distinguished Professor of the History of Art, Elizabethtown College
$10 (FREE for members)

Patricia Likos Ricci will trace the developments in women’s art from a feminist perspective over the past fifty years, demonstrating considerable changes and expansion of issues.  Barbara Bullock and Violet Oakley – with exhibitions currently on view at Woodmere – will be highlighted, as will the work of other Philadelphia-area women in Woodmere’s collection and those involved in the citywide Focus '74 and the current (re) Focus 2024 at Moore College of Art and Design.

The civil rights movement gave women of color more attention and the gay rights movement has made it possible to openly display LGBTQ artists and express their issues. In the context of current museums reckoning with race, Ricci will focus particularly on women artists of color and LGBTQ artists. She will discuss the rediscovery of women artists in response to Linda Nochlin's seminal article "Why have there been no great women artists?" of 1971.

Patricia Likos Ricci, PhD is Distinguished Professor of the History of Art, co-advisor of the Architectural Studies program and an affiliated member of the Women and Gender Studies faculty. She teaches courses in European and American Art, World Architecture, and a seminar on the Italian Renaissance. Her research focuses on American Renaissance murals and architecture and the interface between the arts and sciences.


Releasing the Energies: Choral Music in Dialogue with the Art of Barbara Bullock

Saturday, January 13 | 6:00 pm
$25 ($15 members)
Musicians: The Choir at St. Thomas, Whitemarsh

The choir at St. Thomas, Whitemarsh consists of trained choral singers and volunteers who love singing.  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. 


Barbara Bullock: Inviting the Spirits
Saturday, January 20, 2024 | 2 pm
Lecturer: Robert Cozzolino, Independent Curator
$10 (FREE for members)
The art of Barbara Bullock connects with artists across cultures and generations whose work explicitly invokes the ancestors. These artworks invite many different spirits and honor them. They are made to open a portal through which we can communicate, see and hear them. More than aesthetic objects, these images and constructions are altars; they are animate and ever-changing. Bullock is an artist who has consistently made art in this mindset. In this talk, Bullock's work will be discussed in the wider context of spirit art in her time, and in fluid time.

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