Juana Diaz pressed the final layer of brown ink onto a print to complete an image of two children holding hands pointing to a red horse.
The 20-year-old UF art junior showed dozens of Harn Museum of Art attendees Saturday how to make silk-screen prints to celebrate the work of Jacob Lawrence, an African American artist, who used the medium. Hundreds attended the kick-off event. Lawrence’s artwork served as the centerpiece of the event and introduced the museum’s newest exhibit, “History, Labor, Life: The Prints of Jacob Lawrence.”
In addition to the silk-screen printmaking, visitors could participate in guided tours, crafts, poetry readings and theatrical performances focusing on the themes of African American community and history in the artwork on display.
More than 90 pieces of Lawrence’s work are on display until Aug. 5, said Eric Segal, the Harn director of education and curator of academic programs. The works depict African American historical narratives and community life through bold, colorful compositions.
“We have this wonderful exhibition on Jacob Lawrence, and we really want people to find ways into connecting with it,” Segal said. “The stories that it tells are very accessible.”
The exhibit contains works based around the title themes that were created from 1963 until the artist’s death in 2000, Segal said.
The event was co-sponsored by Xposure Consulting Firm and Gainesville Black Professionals, Inc., with a common goal of promoting the Harn as a free resource available to everyone, said Ian Fletcher, the CEO of Xposure Consulting Firm.
“It’s all about exposing people to art,” Fletcher said. “I don’t know if people understand just the beauty of art.”
Robert Nutting, an 82-year-old African American Gainesville resident, said he wants to do everything he can to support the museum’s effort to share Lawrence’s work.
“I can look at Lawrence’s work and see people that look like me,” Nutting said.
Reginald Carroll, a 16-year-old Eastside High School sophomore, performed his poem, “The Guide,” at the event. He was inspired by themes of nature in Lawrence’s artworks of Harriet Tubman. Carroll said having Lawrence’s artwork on display in Gainesville is inspirational.
“It tells me that you can be an artist even if you’re black,” Carroll said. “I can be a poet. I can be an artist if I choose to be because I have that outlet and ability.”