Savannah College of Art and Design, SCAD, will be opening the exhibition of “Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom,” on Thursday, October 3 at the Museum of Art (MOA).
This exhibition will showcase a collection of manuscripts, letters and photographs of the Douglass family collected over the years by Savannah native, Dr. Walter O. Evans. People will have the opportunity to look at antiques of work from renowned artists like Jacob Lawrence, Betye Saar, and Charles White. Along with new commissions by Onyedika Chuke, TR Ericsson, Glyneisha Johnson, Le’Andra LeSeur, and Charles Williams.
SCAD has had a close and personal relationship with Dr. Evans over many years. He and his wife, Linda J. Evans, donated approximately 70 works of art that span from 100- 150 years old to the SCAD MOA in the hopes of bringing light to African American art and artists back then throughout today’s era.
Kari Herrin, Executive Director of Museums and Exhibitions at SCAD said, “This exhibition is especially unique in that it presents a wide variety of modern and contemporary artworks in dialogue with archival manuscripts, letters, and photographs from Douglass and his family. ‘Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom’ is the latest in SCAD’s long and rich history of showing work by African American artists in its museums and galleries.”
SCAD has multiple displays showcasing African American art and its amazing artifacts. Evans collection specifically, has been one of their best and well-known showcases.
Dr. Evans, a retired general surgeon, is most known for his exquisite exhibitions of African American art work that he has collected over the years. Evans took an interest in art after being invited to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Evans said, “This is one of the grand art institutions in this country. I went to the library and started reading up on the art and artists that I would see. That’s when I feel in love with going to museums, art and artists.”
After medical school and undergrad at Howard University, he began investing in African American art. Evans said, “All of the museums I went into around this country and Europe, I didn’t see much of African American art unlike today. I have a couple daughters who I wanted to see African Americans very credible and great art work.” He wanted to bring awareness to Black art and artists.
Douglass is one of the greatest and most iconic figures in not only African American history, but American history. Evans said, “He was the most photographed person in the 19th century and world. He was advisor to every president starting with Lincoln up until his death. He was born a slave, had to escape and flee the country until his freedom was bought by two British ladies.”
While collecting African American art work throughout the years, he came across the Frederick Douglass collection. Evans said, “The Douglass paper became available to me through a dealer in New Haven. I knew almost all the antiquarian book dealers in this country, and they would call me first when they had something significant. That’s when I found out this particular antiquarian dealer had the Douglass material.”
This will be the last exhibit Evans and SCAD will share of the Frederick Douglass family collection to the public. Evans stresses the importance of preserving the art work and keeping it in its best condition. However, he is hoping that a lot of people come out, see the exhibit and go home to do their research on something that caught their attention.
SCAD encourages people to come out for this last and once in lifetime opportunity. The Museum of Art is located at 601 Turner Blvd and the exhibit will remain open until the end of January.
For further information please visit scadmoa.org.