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College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Floyd Newsum

A Survey - 1970 to 2018
February 8 - March 29, 2018

The O'Kane Gallery's survey exhibition celebrates the art and service of Professor Floyd Newsum who has taught painting at the University of Houston-Downtown since 1976. Newsum has inspired students and the UHD community through his teaching and professional contributions. Newsum's artistic career spans 41 years and includes more than 92 solo and group exhibitions. Most recently, Newsum's paintings, After the Storm CNN and Ghost Series Sirigu, Janie's Apron, were acquired by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. He spent his childhood years in Tennessee earning a BFA from Memphis College of Art in 1973 and an MFA from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1975. In addition to many private collections his works are included in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, University of Maryland College Park and Xavier University, New Orleans. His 2003 sculptural work and public art commission Planters and Stems graces the center of Houston's downtown at Main Street Square.

From his early 1970s realist portraits of African American acquaintances to his recent more abstract art, Newsum's paintings contain undercurrents that are deeply spiritual and socially acute. His work is often filled with a signature combination of marks, and abstract patterns along with iconography that includes fish, birds, ladders, and women, all of which derive from his memories or literary interests. The seemingly innocent and childlike imagery belies his sophisticated use of West African mythologies and Christian symbolism. The importance of human relationships, family, spiritual hope, reflections of the Civil Rights Movement and cultural and world events, all lend a multi-dimensional quality to his work. In his own words, Newsum has said "I want to provoke thought or conjecture from the viewer. My paintings are a collection of thoughts in a single composition, with the power to present more than one interpretation."

Photograph of art by Natalia Anciso - Primos 2015 Pen and Water color
After the Flight, The Land and Sea Shall Meet, 55 x 40 1992

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