An exhibition of the works of four artists who were critical in establishing a presence for African Nova Scotian art in Nova Scotia is now on display at the Dartmouth Heritage Museum at 26 Newcastle Street.
"Discovery: African Nova Scotian Art Pioneers", on loan from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Shelburne County Museum as well as from private lenders and one of the artists, is designed to increase awareness and celebration of African Maritime art.
"We are very pleased to be part of something new like this exhibit," said Crystal Martin, curator of the museum. "We were approached by David Woods, of the Black Artists Network of Nova Scotia about this exhibit and we are proud to share it with the public."
The exhibit includes work from one living artist, Audrey Dear-Hesson of Dartmouth and three others.
Martin says people may not know them as mainstream artists but they deserve to be recognized .
"Along with Audrey Dear-Hesson, we have work from New Brunswick born Edward Mitchell Bannister, who died in 1901, Edith MacDonald-Brown, who grew up in Africville and passed away around 1956 and George McCarthy from Shelburne who lived from 1860 to 1906."
In 1876 one of Bannister's paintings was selected for competition at an important exhibition to be held in Philadelphia. He won first place. The jury attempted to deny him the prize because of his race.Other artists threatened to withdraw if Bannister's prize was revoked so he was awarded the prize.
Besides painting, Bannister was known for his home in Boston that was a safe house on the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves from the south.
McCarthy, from Shelburne, is the creator of the oldest known painting attributed to an African Nova Scotian artist. His work, View of Town of Shelburne was painted in 1888.
MacDonald-Brown was born to an upper middle class family and received her art education in Montreal. Her paintings were kept in her family.
Eighty-three-year-old Dear-Hesson is the first known African Nova Scotian graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art . She received the Lieutenant Governor's Award as the top student of her graduating class in 1951. Her exhibition works include pottery, leatherworks, mixed media and jewellery.
Art Talks will be held on their lives and work of each of the artists
On Feb. 9 at 2:30 p.m. - David Woods and Audrey Dear-Hesson‘s feature talk will be called "Pioneering Spirit" and will include tales from the life of Dear-Hesson.
Feb. 23 at 2:30 p.m. - "From Unexpected Places" - Artists Edith MacDonald, Ruth Johnson and the art of Africville. Presenters are Geraldine Parker and David Woods.
March 9 at 2:30 p.m. - "Uncelebrated Genius" The life of painter Edward Mitchell Bannister. Presenters are Dr. John Grant, author - The Maroons in Nova Scotia.
March 23 at 2:30 p.m. - The Shelburne McCarthy's - Portrait of an exceptional Black Loyalist Family. Presenter: Lewis Jackson, Shelburne Historical Society.
For more information, call 464-2300
Viewing times at the museum - Tuesday - Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 p.m.-5 p.m. and closed Sunday and Monday