Thursday, February 04, 2016

Tradition Redefined: Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson

Last month, we introduced Shawnya Harris, our new Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of African American and African Diasporic Art. Harris’s position on our curatorial staff was funded by an endowment by Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson, generous donors who have created a lasting legacy here at the museum. This week, we celebrate the Thompsons for their contributions to the education and cultural enrichment of the museum and its community.

Tradition Redefined: Brenda A. and Larry D. Thompson

In 2011, the Thompsons donated 100 works to the Georgia Museum of Art from their private collection of pieces by African American artists. This initial donation echoes the donation by the museum's founder, Alfred Heber Holbrook, who donated 100 American paintings to the people of Georgia in 1945. The Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Collection of African American Art includes paintings, prints and sculpture from the 1890s to present, some of which are on view now in the permanent collection wing at the museum. An upcoming exhibition in early 2017 will feature selections from the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Collection and highlight additional works by important, yet underrecognized African American artists. In addition, this exhibition will celebrate the inception of the Thompsons’ endowed curatorship. According to museum director William U. Eiland, the Thompsons "have quite simply changed the course of this museum. In effect, the Thompson endowment and the gift of their collection guarantees the ongoing study and exposure of African American artists in Georgia for posterity."

Radcliffe Bailey, 7 Steps (1994). From the Larry D. and
Brenda A. Thompson Collection of African American Art.
On view at the Georgia Museum of Art.
On February 26, the museum will present the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Award, named in their honor, at its annual Black History Month awards dinner. The award recognizes a living African American visual artist with a significant Georgia connection. This year's winner is artist Emma Amos. To purchase tickets for the dinner or to become a sponsor, click here.

About Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson: Both Larry and Brenda Thompson have significant ties to the University of Georgia and the museum. Larry joined Georgia Law in 2011 as the John A. Sibley Professor in Corporate and Business Law. Having served as former deputy attorney general for the United States and former senior vice president of government affairs, general counsel and secretary for PepsiCo., he now teaches about corporate law and white-collar crime. Previously, he was a partner in the Atlanta office of King & Spalding and served as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, where he directed the Southern Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and was a member of the Attorney General’s Economic Crime Council. Brenda, a member of the museum’s board of advisors, received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Saint Louis University in 1980. She was an assistant professor at Morehouse College in the department of psychology before focusing on child and adolescent mental health, first as a clinical psychologist and then as a school psychologist. A longtime patron and leader in the arts, she also serves on the board of trustees for the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and for the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Samantha Meyer and Madison Bledsoe contributed to this post.

No comments: