Introduction and Acknowledgments

Dr. Robert E. Steele

The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park, is proud to present An American Consciousness: Robin Holder's Mid-Career Retrospective. The exhibition, its accompanying catalogue, and Arts Education Program, follow the Center's mission to collect, present, and document the work of African American artists as a part of the narrative of American art. Moreover, during the academic year 2009–2010, the Center celebrates and highlights the contribution of African American female artists to the visual arts. This year, we launched this celebration with a lecture by Prof. Emma Amos, a painter, printmaker, weaver, and retired Professor of Art at Mason Gross School of Art, Rutgers University. We will continue with the exhibitions An American Consciousness: Robin Holder's Mid-Career Retrospective and Her Story: Margo Humphrey Lithographs and Works on Paper, along with a symposium: "Autobiography/Performance/Identity: A Symposium on African American and African Diasporan Women in the Visual Arts." The year-long celebration will end with the 2010 Distinguished Lecture in the Visual Arts in Honor of David C. Driskell with Elizabeth Catlett as the guest speaker.

An American Consciousness presents an in-depth examination of Robin Holder's three decades as a printmaker. During those decades, Holder became professionally involved with such artists as Robert Blackburn, Elizabeth Catlett, Ernest Crichlow, and Al Loving who where among the most important voices of the Black Arts Movement. Working in series, Holder addresses issues rooted in American culture: immigration, racism, and jazz. A storyteller, Holder is moving back and forth from autobiographic works to historic and global issues such as the Holocaust and child labor. Holder also follows the footsteps of many of her contemporaries such as Charles Alston and Norman Lewis as she created several public art projects in New York City. This exhibition is curated by the Center's own Deputy Director, Dorit Yaron, who wrote her master's thesis on the work of Robin Holder. Through her knowledge and examination of Holder's art and career during the last ten years, Yaron uses her expertise to point out not only the aesthetics and beauty of Holder's work but the thoughts and principles that are incorporated into it. For the exhibition catalogue's essay "In Her Own Words," Yaron and Holder discuss many different aspects of Holder's work as an artist and an art educator, including her artistic choices, the creative process, the importance of art education, among others, while exploring personal experiences and growth. Thus, through viewing and reading the catalogue, one may be able to truly understand in-depth the work that Holder has been doing for the last three decades.