Through the Eyes of Others: African Americans and Identity in American Art

black child.jpg
Black Child, ca. 1820. Philip Thomas Cole Tilyard (1787-1827). Gift of Stephen C. Clark. Collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY.
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The Problem We All Live With (Artist’s Proof), 1964. Rockwell, Norman. Norman Rockwell Museum.

The images of African Americans at the Fenimore Art Museum offer insights into the ways that Americans in the past viewed one another; how artistic representations of black people created and reinforced popular attitudes; and how these attitudes continue to affect us today. This is not simply a story for African Americans, but for all of us, because the issues represented in this exhibition—identity, self-portrayal, survival, resistance, and stereotyping—are issues that relate to each individual who has ever wondered about their own identity and to every group that has entered this country.

Through the Eyes of Others contains approximately 50 artworks including Volume 1, Number 1 of Frederick Douglass's newspaper, The North Star; Eel Spearing at Setauket by William Sidney Mount; The Fiddler by Romare Bearden, and a series of watercolor sketches of an unidentified African American girl by Edward Lamson Henry. The exhibition is curated by Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Director/Distinguished Professor, Cooperstown Graduate Program, Cooperstown, New York. This exhibition has been made possible by a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency.

This exhibition will travel to several venues in 2009 and 2010. If you are interested in hosting this exhibition, please contact Paul D'Ambrosio, Vice President and Chief Curator, at 607-547-1413 or