“Window” by Ernest Crichlow, oil on canvas, 1980. Photo courtesy LSMOA.

On exhibit: Reflections at LSUMOA

Write what you know. Those words of wisdom are often imparted to budding novelists and poets. And though their tools are paintbrushes instead of pens, the artists whose works are featured in the new exhibition “Reflections: African-American Life from the Myrna Colley-Lee Collection” at the LSU Museum of Art embody that same ideal. The result of their creative efforts is powerful enough to prompt viewers to reflect on not just what divides us but also what ties us together.

“The focus of so many of these artists is to work from what they know—a personal experience particular to being African-American—but also the personal experiences that all of us share, or that we share as Southerners,” says LSUMOA curator Courtney Taylor. “The core of all the work is the human experience.”

For this show, Colley-Lee, a noted costume designer and resident of the Mississippi Delta, selected 50 works from top 20th-century artists including Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett and Charles White. “Many of these artists were involved in the Black Arts Movement and other activist art movements that sought to present or grapple with the idea of a cohesive representation of African-American identity,” Taylor says.

The museum will partner with Forward Arts to present spoken-word poetry in response to these artworks during the monthly Third Thursday event on August 17. Colley-Lee will give a talk about her collecting on September 7.

“This exhibition is a great way to reflect on how personal experiences add up to a life,” says Taylor, “an African-American life, Southern life and life in general.”