Student Diversity Committee acquires new art by incarcerated artists

The Student Diversity Committee at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art recently acquired two new paintings for the museum’s permanent collection. Both works were part of the museum’s recent exhibition “HeartBound Ministries: Art from the Inside” featuring art made by incarcerated artists in Georgia.

"The Horsefair" by Henry C.

“The Horsefair” by Henry C.

The first work, “The Horsefair,” by Henry C., is a scaled-down recreation of a large painting of the same name by Rosa Bonheur — considered to be her most famous work. The painting depicts a Paris horse market in the 1800s that includes a subtle self-portrait of the artist atop a horse in the center. For Bonheur, a queer artist, this was an expression of her feelings of entrapment by societal norms. For Henry C., this may have been a way to express his own feelings of literal entrapment. Even at its smaller size, Henry C.’s painting is an amazingly-detailed reproduction of the original. This painting won the People’s Choice Award during its time in the exhibition.

“These two artists are separated by more than 165 years and a world of difference in terms of gender expression and socio-economic status and yet they seem to have shared dialogue,” says Museum Director Elizabeth Peterson. “I find that kind of common thread of human experience across time and culture to be awe inspiring.”

The second acquired piece, “‘Remus’ the Cat” by Randy M., depicts the artist’s pet cat enjoying the solace and tranquility of his home. According to Randy M., this painting is a depiction of one of the “sweetest times” in the artist’s life.

"'Remus' the Cat" by Randy M.

“‘Remus’ the Cat” by Randy M.

The OUMA Student Diversity Committee was created in June 2020 as part of Oglethorpe University’s expanded commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The goal of the committee is to find, elevate and prioritize diverse voices at every level of the museum’s activities and programming. The committee made its first purchase that same year, acquiring two works from Dominican American artist Pilar Martínez.

Breanna Malone ’22, a Student Diversity Committee member, also recently secured an internship with HeartBound Ministries, the nonprofit organization behind “Art from the Inside.” She connected with the nonprofit after experiencing “Art from the Inside” at the museum. Malone is helping to develop programs for children as they visit with incarcerated parents.

Founded by Oglethorpe alumna Andrea Shelton ’91, HeartBound is dedicated to providing resources to the incarcerated community. All profits from “Art from the Inside” went to the organization’s “Little Readers” program, which allows incarcerated parents to record videos of themselves reading for their children to enjoy.

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