Clark Atlanta University Learn Lead Change


Art Galleries
Trevor Arnett Hall, 2nd Level
(404) 880-6102/6644 - (404) 880-6968 (fax)
Tuesday - Friday, 11:00am - 4:00pm


Photo by Tim Hursley
Aspacio Atrium

The Art of the Negro murals were painted by Hale Aspacio Woodruff (1900-1980) and consist of six canvas panels housed in the atrium of Trevor Arnett Hall. Woodruff, art professor and founder of the Atlanta University art department and permanent collections painted the series between 1950-1951. Woodruff intended to provide students of an historically black university, and its visitors, with images of black Americans' cultural past. Referring to his motive for painting the murals, Woodruff stated:

"It portrays what I call the Art of the Negro. This has to do with a kind of interpretive treatment of African art. ... I look at the African artist certainly as one of my ancestors regardless of how we feel about each other today. I've always had a high regard and respect for the African artist and his art. So this mural, ... is for me, a kind of token of my esteem for African art." - Hale Aspacio Woodruff

 Panel One: Native Forms portrays interpretation various African icons found in cave paintings, sculpture and masks, and their relationship to cultural activities of African people. It implies an affinity African artists have with nature.
(click on the image for an enlarged view)

 Panel Two: Interchange refers to the ongoing cultural exchange among Africans and Europeans, and the subsequent influences that shaped Western civilization.
(click on the image for an enlarged view)

 Panel Three: Dissipation
(click on the image for an enlarged view) dramatizes the colonization and subjugation of Africa by European cultures with specific reference to the British burning of the city Benin in 1897 and the looting of all their art.

 Panel Four: Parallels illustrates the relationships and commonalities among the ancient and traditional art forms of non-European cultures (i.e., Mayans, Aztecs, African, New Guinea and Amercian Indians).
(click on the image for an enlarged view)

 Panel Five: Influences conveys the impact of traditional art forms (assigning African art the central role) on the development of Western art in the 20th Century.
(click on the image for an enlarged view)

 Panel Six: Muses symbolizes the involuntary marriage of African and European cultures and the evolution of the African artist (as represented in the center) in the Western hemisphere. Seventeen important artists of color who symbolize this cultural background represent Woodruff's notion including Iqueigha, 13th century sculptor, 20th Century primitive, Joshua Johnston, colonial portraitist; Henry O. Tanner, religious painter and Jacob Lawrence, a contemporary narrative serial painter.
(click on the image for an enlarged view)