Terra Foundation Awards $2.5 Million to US Arts & Culture Organizations for Permanent Collection Projects

  • CHICAGO, Illinois
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  • May 04, 2021

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Alma Thomas, Red Atmosphere, 1973, acrylic on canvas, 35″ x 52″, Tougaloo College Art Collections, 1973.072, Purchased by Tougaloo College with support from the National Endowment for the Arts

The Terra Foundation for American Art has announced the awarding of nearly $2.5 million in grants to 35 arts and cultural organizations in the United States. These grants support projects through the foundation’s new two-year exhibition grant initiative, Re-envisioning Permanent Collections: An Initiative for US Museums. 

The Terra Foundation established this grant program to encourage museums to delve more deeply into their collections to reveal a fuller multiplicity of artworks and voices that have shaped, in the past and up through the present, the artistic and cultural heritage of the US.

Ralph Arnold, Love Sign II, 1995. Collage with found images, acrylic paint, and graphite, image courtesy South Side Community Art Center

The grants support permanent collection reinstallation planning and implementation as well as the development of temporary exhibitions drawn from museum collections. The foundation’s commitment to prioritizing equity and inclusion and to evolving the field of American art at large extends beyond artistic content and encompasses support for new, more inclusive models of research, interpretation, and collaborative engagement in exhibition planning and development. 

The first round of funding supports projects taking place across 30 US cities, including four that will be implemented in Chicago by, respectively, the Field Museum, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Rebuild Foundation, and South Side Community Art Center. 

“These projects reflect the important work being done in the field to expand narratives of American art in order to embrace more inclusive histories that reflect a diversity of voices and experiences in the telling of those stories,” said Sharon Corwin, Terra Foundation for American Art President and CEO. “We share this commitment to re-envisioning American art history and are honored to support these grant recipients from across the country in realizing their projects.”

The full list of Re-envisioning Permanent Collections grantees and projects is given below. Among the recipients is the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, which aims to advance dialogues regarding what constitutes American art. Its first major thematic installation of the museum’s American art collection will feature not only Euro-American, African American, Latin American, and Asian American artists, but also—for the first time—traditional and contemporary Native American art alongside early-to-contemporary non–Native American art. Accompanied by public programs, an academic conference, and a scholarly publication, the exhibition will survey artistic responses to the natural world, contending with themes such as climate change, food acquisition and security, and individual and community relationships with the environment. 

Will Wilson, Citizen of the Navajo Nation (Diné), Auto Immune Response no. 5, 2004, archival pigment print, Purchased through the William S. Rubin Fund; 2019.6. © Will Wilson

“As a collaboratively curated project, This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World, raises as many questions as it answers. A main goal of our exhibition is to urge us to consider our own relationships with the natural world and our hopes for its future. It is also a project that we hope will encourage our colleagues to ask difficult questions and engage in meaningful dialogues about what constitutes ‘American’ art as well as who has the power to define it,” said Jami Powell, Hood Museum of Art Associate Curator of Native American Art. “Through the generosity of the Terra Foundation, we are thrilled to be able to share this project, and the possibilities and challenges of engaging, growing, and reimagining permanent collections in meaningful and relevant ways.” 

Another project is the reinstallation of Tougaloo College’s art collection through the interpretive lens of freedom, which will consider the connections between modernism and the struggle for civil rights. The collection—including works by artists Romare Bearden, Fritz Bultman, Richard Mayhew, Robert Motherwell, Thomas Sills, and Alma Thomas—will be presented alongside historic images from the college’s civil rights archives, addressing a period in American history when a racially integrated group of artists advanced the cause of Black equality and freedom. 

“I am moved and inspired by the founders of the Tougaloo College Art Collection. We can learn from their heroic acts and the legacy that they left. The founding committee, The New York Art Committee for Tougaloo College, was led by the remarkable Dore Ashton, who, in 1963 during the modern American Civil Rights Movement, organized the donation of exceptional works of modern art to Tougaloo College, establishing the first modern art collection in Mississippi. The committee set out to advance freedom in America by using art as the focus and the magnet, and the opportunity to re-envision these gifts, and later gifts from David C. Driskell and Romare Bearden, in a permanent installation is a love letter to these remarkable activists. We are incredibly grateful to the Terra Foundation for their partnership and support as we seek to preserve and present this very important civil rights story,” said Turry M. Flucker, Tougaloo College Art Collections Curator and Director.

In Chicago, the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC) will examine the intersections of Chicago’s LGBTQ and Black art histories through the exhibition Love is Universal. It will focus primarily on the Black gay male artists who were closely connected with the center between its founding in 1940 and into the 1980s, exploring the ways SSCAC served as a haven for Black LGBTQ artists, when few other venues were willing to exhibit their work. The exhibition will offer historical context for social life at the center, examining the complicated, intersectional relationship between Black and LGBTQ civil rights movements.

“The South Side Community Art Center is excited to be a part of the Terra Foundation’s Re-Envisioning Permanent Collections grant program. Our grant for Love is Universal will allow us to share a new and revelatory story about the rich contributions made by Black LGBTQ artists to modern and contemporary Black art. We envision that it will also reflect the diversity in both the Black and LGBTQ communities, while at the same time help us to broaden connections between and within our communities,” said Monique Brinkman-Hill, South Side Community Art Center Executive Director.

At El Museo del Barrio in New York City, six convenings and community-led scholarly workshops dedicated to promoting new perspectives on the institution’s holdings will inform the reinstallation of the museum’s collection, fostering conversation across an expanded art historical canon to reflect the rich diversity of Latinx art and visual culture. The Cheekwood Estate & Gardens in Nashville, Tennessee, will promote new scholarship on the work and legacy of African American artist William Edmondson, centered on their collection of 22 Edmondson sculptures—the largest public collection of his work. Broadening the narrative of American art history to include the field of Deaf studies, the Rochester Institute of Technology Dyer Art Center will present the center’s collection of art by Deaf and hard-of-hearing artists, exploring various perspectives on Deaf lives, communities, and overlooked histories. 

Letters of inquiry for the second round of funding for Re-envisioning Permanent Collections are due November 1, 2021. Guidelines for funding are available online. 

The first round of Re-envisioning Permanent Collections grantees and projects are:  

  • Cahuilla Basket Weavers, Emil Steffa, and Their Legacies, Benton Museum of Art, Pomona College, Claremont, CA
  • Reinstallation entitled American Voices: Re-Interpreting the National Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
  • Collective Vision—Curating in Cohorts, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, IA
  • Publication entitled The Future Is Indigenous, accompanying a reinstallation of the Native North American Hall, The Field Museum, Chicago, IL
  • Reinstallation entitled Henry Darger: Behind the Scenes, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Chicago, IL
  • Reinstallation entitled Facsimile Cabinet of Women Origin Stories, Rebuild Foundation, Chicago, IL
  • Love is Universal, South Side Community Art Center, Chicago, IL
  • Reinstallation of Native American Gallery, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis, IN
  • Reinstallation entitled The New Story of the South: A 20th Anniversary Exhibition, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA
  • Never Settled: American Art from Indigenous Perspectives, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, MA
  • Reinstallation of National Historic Landmark Buildings Special Collections, Boston Athenæum, Boston, MA
  • Reinstallation of the Native American and American collections, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA
  • Reinstallation of the permanent collection, The Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA
  • Reinstallation entitled Conspicuous Consumption: The Price of Luxury in American Art (1675–1870), Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA
  • American Wing reinstallation, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
  • American Landscapes, David C. Driskell Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
  • Reinstallation of American Southwest art collections, Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME
  • Art, Music, Feminism & The Mid-Century Quest for Change, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Reinstallation entitled Re-Imagining Native/American Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN
  • Reinstallation entitled FREEDOM: Tougaloo College, Abstract Expressionism and the Civil Rights Movement, Tougaloo College Art Collections, Tougaloo, MS
  • Reinstallation entitled Leading with Objects: Engaging the Community in Institutional Change, UNC Greensboro, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC
  • This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
  • Reimagining the Brooklyn Museum’s American, Arts of the Americas, and Decorative Arts collections, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
  • Reinstallation titled IDENTITY REIMAGINED: Reframing La Colección, El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY
  • Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
  • Monuments, New-York Historical Society, New York, NY
  • Shaped by the American Dream: Deaf History through Deaf Art, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
  • Reinstallation entitled Expanding the Narrative of American Art: Foregrounding Under-represented Stories, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH
  • Black Artists of Oregon, Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR
  • Marisol and Warhol Take New York, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Reinstallation entitled Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee, Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN
  • Persevere and Resist: The Strong Black Women of Elizabeth Catlett, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN
  • The Sculpture of William Edmondson: Tombstones, Garden Ornaments, and Stonework, Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, Nashville, TN
  • Reinstallation entitled A New Vision for American Art, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
  • Reinstallation entitled (Re)Frame: Haub Family Collection of Western American Art, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA

For all foundation grants awarded, please see the grants database. 

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