Other Voices: Romare Bearden and Being Human
C. Shaw Smith
“It is not my aim to paint about the Negro in America in terms of propaganda . . . [but] the life of my people as I know it, passionately and dispassionately as Breughel. My intention is to reveal through pictorial complexities the life I know.”
Romare (pronounced “Row-Mary”) Bearden was one of the most important artists of the 20th Century. An African American, Bearden was born in Charlotte in 1911 and died in New York in 1988. He is renowned for his collages which literally give voice to the lives of African Americans. This dynamic of voice as a key aspect of being human will be presented in this session in terms of what is known as an “acoustical approach to visual arts.” What does a work of art sound like? How do you remember a sound in a painting? Through his memories of his life Bearden constructs global connections to Mecklenburg County, Pittsburgh, New York City, the Harlem Renaissance, Paris, Holland, Africa and the Caribbean, all places which influenced his work and provided him with different kinds of voices, from political writing to poetry to Negro spirituals in Cotton fields to the ecstatic screams of prostitutes in”sportin’ houses” to jazz and Caribbean drums.
About the Speaker
C. Shaw Smith, Jr. is the Joel O. Conarroe Professor of Art History at Davidson College. He lectures and publishes internationally on French art primarily and has taught at Davidson for over thirty-five years including courses in the Art Department, the various Humanities Programs (as the E. Craig Wall Distinguished Teaching Professor in Humanities), and several collaborative seminars such as last year’s seminar on Art and Medicine which, co-taught with Professor Naila Mamoon, granted credit for pre-medicine students as well as for art history.