Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey
November 15–December 13, 2014 and January 21–March 14, 2015
Curated by Dr. Robert G. O'Meally, Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in cooperation with the Romare Bearden Foundation and Estate and DC Moore Gallery. The exhibition and its related educational resources are supported by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey presents and explores the artist's 1977 cycle of collages and watercolors based on Homer's Odyssey. One of the most esteemed and beloved African American artists of the 20th century, Romare Bearden (1911 – 1988) underscores the epic text in the service of his most significant artistic theme: searching for a way home. Bearden works with and against Homer, translating the ancient stories through a 20th–century visual voice while considering their enduring relevance. Bearden's black characters raise the issue of race, inviting us to consider the Odyssey as a truly global classic. This rare presentation of Bearden's Odyssey has traveled nationally prior to this final homecoming, a coda to the "Bearden Centennial" celebrations of 2011 – 2013. Columbia University will celebrate the presentation with a year–long, campus–wide public programming response entitled Homer in Harlem, that enhances the University's core curriculum as well as its global initiatives.