Mott-Warsh Art Display; New Pieces on View in Library

Six new pieces have arrived at Thompson Library — on loan from the Mott-Warsh Art Collection.

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The art collection, owned by The Maryanne Mott and Herman Warsh Collection, contains samples of some of the very best late 20th century works by African American artists.

The mission of the Mott-Warsh Collection is to present contemporary fine art to public audiences in non-traditional venues as well as educational and cultural institutions.   University of Michigan-Flint (with its strong historical ties to the Mott family of Flint, Michigan) and the Thompson Library in particular fit perfectly with the mission and vision statements established by Maryanne Mott and her late husband, Herman Warsh.

The entire Mott-Warsh Collection currently consists of works by over 125 artists, featuring 20th century masters such as Romare Bearden and Elizabeth Catlett to new and innovative artists of the early 21st century, and includes a broad array of work from the abstract to the representative.  Common to all pieces within the collection is the focus on unique cultural and social experiences of Africans and Americans of African descent living and working in western (American) society.

Maryanne and Herman begun collecting their art with the intent to assemble and preserve rare works of art endemic to the African community and make them available to the wider audience through its lending program with the intent to educate viewers in art appreciation, art making processes, art history, 20th century American history and the history of the African diaspora.

The Collection contains over four hundred works and is supported by the Mott-Warsh research library which has assembled monographs, exhibition catalogs, auction catalogs and journals with subject concentrations in African American art as well as information on fine arts collection management.

Selected works from the Mott-Warsh Collection are currently on display at several locations around Flint, including the Flint Institute of Music, the Flint Public Library, the Ruth Mott Foundation, Mott Community College, Applewood, Kettering University Innovation Center and other locations.

Nationally, pieces are on loan at such renowned institutions as the Museum of Contemporary Art (San Diego), Wexner Center for the Arts (Ohio State University), Walker Art Center, Denver Art Museum, Rudenstine Gallery (W.E.B. DuBois Institute, Harvard University), the Seattle Art Museum, the Atlanta Center for Contemporary Art, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Hartford), the Institute of Contemporary Arts (Boston) and many other museums and art galleries around the nation.

Thompson Library is proud to be numbered among such fine institutions in being selected as a location to display pieces from the Mott-Warsh Collection.

We would like to acknowledge the efforts of Mr. Michael Doyle — Mickey — who numbers among our reference librarians and serves as our Head of Access Services — for being instrumental in arranging our library’s participation as a display site for works from this esteemed collection.

Our first pieces were installed earlier in March of last year.   Those have been cycled out and the new pieces are now on display.  To view, enter the Thompson Library (3rd floor) and walk directly to the far wall.

This winter, the acclaimed Mott-Warsh Art Collection has brought to the Thompson Library a collection of the works of John Wilson (b. 1922).

Information on the artist  provided by the Mott-Warsh Collection:

The artist, a son of a follower of black nationalist Marcus Garvey, was introduced at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) to the work of Daumier, George Groszk, Ben Shahn, and Picasso — artists who addressed social issues.   But it was the politically charged paintings of the Mexican muralists that especially impressed him.

In Paris, at the Museum of Man, he discovered the art of African and other non-Western cultures, and later he studied and worked in Mexico.  “Along with looking and listening, I began to read.  Orozco paintings told it like it was!  So did the stories of Richard Wright!”

The Richard Wright Suite is a set of six color acquatint prints inspired by African American novelist Richard Wright’s, Down by the Riverside.  The  narrative was first published in 1938 as part of a collection of four short stories in Wright’s book, Uncle Tom’s Children.  Artist John Wilson responds to Wright’s tragic story about Mann, a black man who dies trying to save his family during a storm.

In 2001, Wilson provided four color aquatints for the Limited Editions Club’s reprinting of Wright’s, Down by the Riverside.  The aquatints were printed by James Stroud of the Center Street Studio, Milton Village, Massachusetts “Norrie Fund.”

These prints on loan from the Mott-Warsh Collection are from a portfolio issued separately, in which Wilson included two additional prints, Death of Lulu and The Death of Mann, arguably the bleakest and most powerful images in the series.


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