SCAD Museum of Art presents “Virginia Kiah from Art School to Educator: 30 Years of Portraits”


Keiffer, Michael, and Clarence Mitchell (My Nephews), oil on canvas, by Virginia Kiah c. 1940s-50.
Keiffer, Michael, and Clarence Mitchell (My Nephews), oil on canvas, by Virginia Kiah c. 1940s-50.

The SCAD Museum of Art presents the exhibition “Virginia Kiah from Art School to Art Educator: 30 Years of Portraits,” July 27- Aug. 30 at the SCAD Museum of Art, 227 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Savannah, Ga. The reception and exhibition are free and open to the public.

Notable artist and former Savannah College of Art and Design Board of Trustees member, Virginia Jackson Kiah was born June 3, 1911, and discovered a passion for art at a very early age. Growing up in Baltimore, Md., she attended Frederick Douglass High School. After overcoming racial obstacles, Kiah earned a B.A. from the Philadelphia Museum School of Art in 1931 and an M.A. from Columbia University in 1950. She also studied at the University of Pennsylvania and the Art Students League of New York where her teachers included notable portraitists Robert Brackman and Vincent Drummond. In 1950, Kiah came to Savannah with her husband, Calvin Lycurgus Kiah, and taught art at Beach High She remained committed to civil rights and showed remarkable leadership as the promotional and membership secretary of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP during the 1930s, following the lead of her mother Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson, known as the “mother of the Civil Rights movement” and a former president of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP.

Her portraits have been shown in the U.S. House of Representatives and hang in several public and private collections throughout the country. In 1986, Kiah received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. The following year she joined the college’s Board of Trustees.

In 1993, SCAD’s Kiah Hall (formerly the “Gray Building” headquarters of the Central of Georgia Railroad at 227 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.) was named in her honor. Today it houses the SCAD Museum of Art.

The exhibition is cosponsored by the Telfair Friends of African American Arts.

For more information about the exhibition and to arrange group tours, call 912.525.7191, or visit www.scad.edu/scadmuseum.

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