This February, Piedmont Arts has lined up a variety of exhibits and programs that recognize and celebrate Black History Month. From a performance by noted writer and actor Mike Wiley focusing on the Montgomery bus boycott, to its annual African American Read-In with storyteller Fred Motley, to an exhibit featuring work by contemporary African American artist Tawny Chatmon, the museum is taking a comprehensive look at the contributions of African American artists to the arts and culture of our region.
Mike Wiley will perform his one-man play, Tired Souls: King and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at Piedmont Arts. The play opens in Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955 – the day Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man. Her determination was the catalyst that inspired Montgomery’s black citizens to abandon all travel on city buses until they were no longer forced to sit in the back or stand when a white person boarded. But there were others who came before Mrs. Parks and laid the groundwork for this pivotal moment. Tired Souls introduces audiences to Jo Ann Robinson, Claudette Colvin and others instrumental in lighting a fire under the Civil Rights movement and changing the course of U.S. history forever. A reception will be held at 6:30 pm and the performance will begin at 7 pm. Tickets are $20 per person and are on sale now at Piedmont Arts and PiedmontArts.org.
Slated for Saturday, February 22, 2020, Piedmont Arts’ annual African American Read-In and Family Day will take place from 11 am – 1 pm at the museum, and will feature Danville-based storyteller Fred Motley. A modern-day griot, Motley has traveled to festivals and other venues to teach African-American history, music and dance for over 30 years. His performance will include classic folktales, songs and stories from around the world. Enjoy crafts and complimentary refreshments. Admission is free. This event is sponsored by Carter Bank & Trust.
Fragile, Handle with Care, an exhibit of work by contemporary African American artist Tawny Chatmon, will be on display at Piedmont Arts January 18 – March 7, 2020. Chatmon's portraits capture the beauty, innocence and hope of black childhood. She is devoted to creating portraits that are loosely inspired by works painted spanning from the 15th to 20th centuries, with the specific intent of bringing to the forefront faces that were often under-celebrated in this style of work. Chatmon focuses on important themes, like childhood bonding, black culture and style (specifically hair plaiting and styling) and the intricacies of protecting and raising a black child in today’s world. Admission is free.
To close out the exhibit, Piedmont Arts will host Art at Happy Hour on Thursday, February 27, 2020 from 5 – 7 pm. Chatmon will lead a gallery walk and talk through Fragile, Handle with Care, discuss her influences and techniques and answer questions. The Piedmont Arts Guild will provide complimentary refreshments. Admission is free.
To learn more about Piedmont Arts’ Black History Month events, visit PiedmontArts.org.