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.

Member Preview
Saturday, September 23 | 10 am to 12 pm
FREE for Members
Get a sneak peek of the show before the opening!  Join Woodmere Director Bill Valerio for a tour of Barbara Bullock: Fearless Vision followed by refreshments on the porch. 
Open House Reception
Saturday, September 23 | 1:00 - 4:00 pm
Please join us for an opening reception celebrating Barbara Bullock: Fearless Vision on Saturday, September 23rd from 1PM-4PM. The event is free and open to the public.
The Art of Looking
Thursday, September 28 | 2:00 - 3:00 pm
with Flo Gelo, associate professor, Department of Family, Community, and Preventive Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine; Hildy Tow, the Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Curator of Education, Woodmere Art Museum
The Art of Looking is a program that will deepen your ability to engage with art. By focusing on one artwork at a time, the program is designed to increase a viewer’s ability to observe, to engage in self-reflection enabling thoughts and feelings to evolve over time, and to promote conversation and multiple viewpoints with other participants. This program invites you to enjoy and develop relationships with works of art that nurture you more deeply.
Family Tour & Artmaking 
Saturday, October 7 | 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
ages 6 and up, with an adult 
$5/child (FREE for Family Members)
Enjoy a fun, interactive tour of Barbara Bullock: Fearless Vision with children, ages 6 and up and accompanying adults followed by an artmaking project inspired by Bullock's artwork.
Artist Talk on Barbara Bullock
Saturday, October 21 | 2 pm
Speakers: Syd Carpenter, artist; Andrea Packard, artist; director, Swarthmore College Art Collection & Curator, List Gallery
$10 (FREE for members)
Barbara Bullock is recognized as a pioneering figure and artist in Philadelphia and beyond. Artists Syd Carpenter and Andrea Packard will discuss the profound influence and impact she has made through artworks inspired by the mythology and culture of Africa and its diaspora and experiences rooted in memories, dreams, and history. Bullock’s “fearless vision” is one that honors an ancestral cultural identity and speaks to our collective humanity.   
Teacher Workshop: Cultural Heritage and Historical Context in the Art of Barbara Bullock 
Saturday, October 28 | 10 am-1 pm | 3 PA hours
Educators: Steve Wills and Hildy Tow
This workshop is designed to help teachers create learning experiences that strengthen social studies curriculum and demonstrate and apply visual and critical thinking skills regarding history and an appreciation for cultural heritage. Participants will take part in a series of activities that demonstrate how Bullock’s work was propelled by the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, a time when Black American artists began consciously addressing their African heritage and their experiences as African Americans. Teachers will participate in activities that demonstrate the importance of teaching history and cultural heritage as a means of connecting with our past, informing on how we see the present, and imagining the future.  
Teachers will receive materials for classroom use. This workshop is aligned with Common Core Academic standards. 
Creating Traditional African Batik & Adire Textiles 
in partnership with Mt. Airy Learning Tree
Saturday, October 28 | 1 - 4 pm 
Instructor: Muyiwa Togun 
$125 ($95 members) plus $30 materials fee payable to the instructor

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.

This class is offered in conjunction with Woodmere’s exhibition, Barbara Bullock: Fearless Vision. On Sat. Nov. 11 at 2 pm, students taking this class are welcome to participate in a tour of the exhibition for free. Barbara Bullock is one of the city’s most well-known and respected artists. The exhibition highlights her drawings, paintings, sculptures, and multi-media artworks often inspired by the mythology and culture of Africa and its diaspora. The power and beauty of her art shift between figurative and abstract forms filled with vibrant colors and rich textures.
Gallery Talk
with Barbara Bullock and art historians, Leslie King Hammond and Lowery Stokes Sims
Saturday, November 4 | 2 pm
$10 (FREE for members)
Members' Tour
Thursday, November 9 | 6 pm 
FREE for Members 
Teacher Workshop: Art Education Inspired by Barbara Bullock 
Art Educators: Elbrite Brown and Hildy Tow
Saturday, December 2 | 10 am-1 pm | 3 PA hours
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)
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

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.