A Sense of Purpose: A Collector's Life with Art
African American Art from the Arthur Primas Collection

Haitian Landscape by Aaron Douglas

Family Guide for this Exhibit

January 19-March 17, 2013

Reception and Lecture: February 8 at 7pm


Michael Eddens,
Oklahoma Arts Council 
Director of Arts Education Programs

Alyson Atchison,
Curator of Education and Capital Galleries. 

Free and open to all. 


Though the 69 works by 26 artists represent only a fraction of the pieces in Arthur Primas's vast collection, they each reveal his collecting focus.  All of the artworks illustrate a struggle for freedom, whether from slavery as Howardena Pindell's Slavery Memorial Narratives or from societal and monetary pressures such as Tafa Fiadazibe's Welfare Mom.
"[My] collection has been assembled because each work of art captured my eye and pulled me in.  It might have been the movement in the piece, or the combination of colors. Whatever it was, it caused me to pause and listen for the message," Arthur Primas wrote.

Many of the artists in this exhibit are well-known African American artists, including Jacob Lawrence, Charles White, and Aaron Douglas.  All of the works have powerful stories behind them, sometimes a personal story from the artist's history, like Hughie Lee-Smith's Navy Sailor which references his own time in the Navy during WWII.  Others reference broader political struggles, such as Tafa Fiadazibe's Terrorists and Freedom Fighters. This work lists the names of many people and organizations declared terrorists at one time or another including the IRA, FBI, the KGB, and Nelson Mandela, who was on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorists for many years.  

  • Allied Arts
  • Oklahoma Arts
  • National Endowment

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