Guardians Of The Image Makers
APR 6 ⇀ JUN 12, 2018 | Constance S. & Robert J. Hennesy Project Space
Guardians of the Image Makers is a group exhibition of select Delaware artists involved in arts advocacy and activism. The exhibition image is a print by Percy Ricks that inspired the theme of this exhibition bringing creative voices
together from all walks of life and every generation. This exhibition joins the citywide Wilmington 1968 series remembering the National Guard occupation and its resultant emotional uprising in Wilmington.
1968 was a consequential year in American history as the Vietnam War raged on, the Civil Rights movement made strides, and riots and protests studded the American landscape. The Wilmington 1968 Occupation and Riots followed the assassination
of Martin Luther King, Jr. "when cries of 'They got the King' rang out across urban America." Artists responded to the local and national turbulence, and in 1971, Percy Ricks founded The Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc. a non-profit
organization dedicated to strengthening the arts in Wilmington and the state of Delaware. Ricks was primarily an arts educator, promoting area artists, while helping to improve the quality of life in the local community. Mentored by James
Porter, a pioneer in establishing the field of African American art history, Ricks became a mentor to many, believing a whole community should be involved in teaching its children.
This exhibition is in the spirit of Percy Ricks as it brings together artist and community to continue a conversation about where we've come from and where we're going. It also puts into focus the narrative of 1968 through dynamic
programming, guided tours, and a colloquium to tell the story of contemporary Delaware artists. This exhibition features works and stories by area artists who exemplify Percy's art advocacy and proliferate arts education. Featured artists
include Percy Ricks, Dr. James Newton, Carl Bailey, Chad Cortez Everett, Colette Gaiter, Michael Kalmbach, Eunice LaFate, Roldan West, and Lvon Yoder.
Statement by Morgan Hamilton
I was approached by Dr. James Newton to exhibit the artwork of Percy Ricks, a prominent African American artist, arts educator, and activist who led the Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc. Ricks was the catalyst for the artistic thrust of Christina Cultural
Arts Center in 1968.
I was nervous to take on such a personal and local project, one that features people I've never heard of in a state that I just moved to. However, once I began to talk to artists, their friends and colleagues, the exhibition began to form.
Curating is often just listening to stories, talking to artists, looking at artwork, and then stepping back to see the whole picture.
Though the impetus of this exhibition was Percy Ricks and his contributions to the art culture in Delaware, it has since evolved into a generational show that doesn't focus on the man, but on his ideology. In my research, I found that Delaware
artists have a connecting mentality: use creative drive to give back to the community.
Guardians of the Image Makers is an exhibition that features local artists who have stake in Delaware, who work and live in Delaware, who breathe and defend Delaware. The story fell into place, and these artists, some of whom know and
admire each other, came together to tell a bigger story about the legacy of African Americans in art and Delaware.
It has been 50 years to the week that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. The shot rang out across the country and drew ire from a subjugated and frustrated population. The riots in Wilmington lead to the longest occupation
of a city by the National Guard in our history. This year, we are looking to the past to recall those injustices so that we can better respond in our present.
Percy Ricks' approach was to include all races, rich and poor, artist and audience, men and women, because he knew that only together would we be able to build a bridge to the future, hand in hand. His vision focused beyond the riots, beyond
the occupation, beyond his time and into ours. With this exhibition, I hope to show him a future of progress, while acknowledging the hard work still to do. The first step is to come together. And here we are.
The Guardians of the Image Makers logo stems from a serigraph print made by Percy Ricks that can be found on the rack card. Though it evokes an ancient image of guardians, I realize it is meant to represent all of us: artists, curators,
art appreciators. We are here to protect the image makers so that they can tell our story.
I believe our future is diverse, and until all tiers of society are recognized and heard, our work continues. I will be looking beyond today and focusing on a future that I can be proud of, as Mr. Ricks did decades ago. If I'm lucky, everyone
will be an artist who works for one another, always remembering to give back and carry on Percy's spirit.
1968: Recall and Respond
On Art Conversation with Chad Cortez Everett
Art and Activism Educators Forum
Written by Morgan Hamilton