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Library exhibit celebrates Black painters

Published on February 08, 2021

Library exhibit celebrates Black painters

Bacack Obama
Presidential portrait of Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley.

Eastern Connecticut State University’s J. Eugene Smith Library is honoring Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, with a virtual exhibit commemorating Black painters. This is the library’s third virtual exhibit to honor the month, with past exhibits focusing on the right to vote (2020) and Black musicians (2019). This year’s exhibit focuses primarily on Black painters and includes a curation of websites, articles, images and books.

Along with highlighted artists and their work, ranging from Amy Sherald to Ernest Crichlow, students can access a variety of resources to learn about established and up-and-coming artists. “My hope is that the lives of our Eastern students are enriched by the topic,” said librarian Kellie M. O'Donnell-Bobadilla, head of access services.

Along with the virtual exhibit, students can visit the library to find a collection of African American biographies. “I wanted to highlight talented Black achievers who are not at the forefront of our minds,” continued O’Donnell-Bobadilla. In a field predominately made up of white artists, African American artists have been breaking barriers to diversify the craft.

Articles in the exhibit include “12 African American Artists You Should Know More About” by Megan Robinson in Art & Object; “21 Black Female Painters” by Petra Chiodi in Kooness; and “10 Emerging Black Male Artists to Collect” by Shantay Robinson in Black Art in America. Students can also access books, eBooks and book chapters that touch on African American history in relation to art and painting.

In addition to these resources, the exhibit features notable pieces of art. Paintings include the official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, as well as “Roots” by Romare Bearden and “La Baker” by Lois Mailou Jones. The paintings show a collection of different painting styles and topics, which can be explored in collaboration with additional research.

For more information, visit the exhibit at or contact O'Donnell-Bobadilla at


Written by Molly Boucher