October 12, 2018 -January 15, 2019Curated by Maleke Glee

Featured Artists:
  • Guy Miller
  • Lionel Frazier
  • Monique Muse Dodd
  • Tim Davis 
  • Zsudayka Nzinga Terrell
  • Joan Gaither
  • Kimberly Cunningham
  • Lloyd Foster 
  • David Cassidy 
  • Beverly Price

On January 16, 1865, Union General William T. Sherman issued special field order No. 15, which would later be colloquially known as “40 Acres and a Mule.” This order intended to relinquish over 4,000,000 acres of land, which stretched across the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, to people who had been recently freed from enslavement. Given the racial relations and economic stasis of the time, this was widely received as radical act. This attempt in racial equity was firstly introduced during a convening in Savannah, Georgia with Sherman, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, and twenty Black leaders. The order also included language that would safeguard these Black communities from white residency. These Black communities would be a promised land, a safe haven from white racists, and a space led by and exclusively for African Americans. This order, which would have forever changed the American racial and economic landscape, was overturned by President Andrew Jackson. In lieu of this broken promise, Black Americans have pursued the contrived “American Dream.” Black Americans have created self-sustained enclaves – spaces of shared resources, communal morale, and rich cultural assets.

40 Acres Deferred highlights the ways in which, even with oppressive systems actively dismantling the rights outlined in our constitution, Black Americans have created spaces that affirm liberty, justice, and happiness. The presenting artists apply varied mediums and stylization in the interpretation of their individual and collective narratives. These narratives follow in the legacy of African American artists who have explored personal, regional, and national trends within the historical moments that shape American culture. The featured artworks explore Black American migratory patterns, the process of homemaking, and socio-economic autonomy. These contemporary pieces have embedded remnants of the past in subtle influence, narrative, or stylization. For African Americans, the 40 Acres Promise has been deferred, just as our governmental right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, Black Americans thrive in their spaces; with each passing year, the power of ownership is communicated in the pursuit of legacy building, economic mobility, and cultural preservation. The artists featured in 40 Acres Deferred are paving a new legacy informed by their experience within landscape; their work is derived from the footsteps of their forebears and the environment that has shaped them.