Press Releases

David C. Driskell & Friends: Creativity, Collaboration, and Friendship

May 28, 2024


Marking the Fourth Stop for National Traveling Exhibition

MAY 14 2024, Philadelphia, PA – Arthur Ross Gallery of the University of Pennsylvania is pleased to present David C. Driskell and Friends: Creativity, Collaboration, & Friends, an exhibition that explores the work of renowned artist, art historian, and curator David C. Driskell and his relationships with figures including Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Keith Morrison, Hale Woodruff, and more. In this fourth iteration of the national traveling exhibition, a curatorial focus will be on form and color in abstraction, on view June 15 – September 15, 2024.

In 1976, Driskell curated the pathbreaking exhibition Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750–1950, which was critical for expanding the presence of contemporary and historical Black American art in American museums.  Many of the artists who were featured are included in this exhibition. David C. Driskell & Friends: Creativity, Collaboration, and Friendship shines a light on the recent recognition of African American and African Diaspora art as integral to the art historical canon. Driskell was a critical catalyst of this drive for greater visibility both as a scholar and artist, a dual path that is explored in this important exhibition.

The current iteration of the national traveling exhibition, co-curated by Sheila Bergman, Curlee Raven Holton, and Heather Sincavage, will focus on abstraction in the works of Driskell, Charles Alston, Romare Bearden, John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Claude Clark Sr., Aaron Douglas, Melvin Edwards, Felrath Hines, Earl J. Hooks, Margo Humphrey, Lois Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Norman Lewis, Richard Mayhew, Sam Middleton, Keith Morrison, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Betye Saar, Alma Thomas, Charles White, Williams T. Williams, Ellis Wilson, and Hale Woodruff. Organized in collaboration with Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, the inaugural Faculty Director at the Arthur Ross Gallery, David C. Driskell & Friends: Creativity, Collaboration, and Friendship will foreground the artists’ use of form, color, and their interest in the places that make up the vast African Diaspora.

“This exhibition exemplifies the lighting rod of change that the artworks and curatorial vision by David C. Driskell represent,” said Emily Zimmerman, Director of Exhibitions and Curatorial Affairs at the Arthur Ross Gallery. “As a university art gallery dedicated to transformative scholarship, it is a pleasure to present the work of a group of artists that changed the course of art history to canonize the work of Black American and African Diasporic artists in the 1970s. It was radical then and remains a vital chapter in art history.”

David C. Driskell & Friends: Creativity, Collaboration, and Friendship highlights the artistic legacy of David C. Driskell and the importance of his relationships with fellow artists, holding a significant place in the art canon.  The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog featuring artwork, photographs, essays, and extensive material on Driskell’s life and works.

This traveling exhibition debuted at the Sordoni Art Gallery of Wilkes University and has been exhibited at the California Museum of Photography at the University of California,Riverside and The David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland before the Arthur Ross Gallery. It will also travel to the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University, the Frist Art Museum, and the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University.

David C. Driskell & Friends: Creativity, Collaboration, and Friendship is organized by The Driskell Center, University of Maryland.  This exhibition and related programming are supported by the Teiger Foundation.


David C. Driskell, Mask Series II, 2019. The David C. Driskell Center, University of Maryland. Gift of Raven Fine Art Editions.



Sarah Brown McLeod 

Roberta Zertuche 


The Arthur Ross Gallery is a catalyst for creativity, and its mission is to Engage, Educate, and Inspire. The Arthur Ross Gallery is a resource for the entire University community, across schools and departments, and the local community and scholars worldwide. We are a learning lab where people engage with important, and often rarely seen, art and artifacts from a diverse range of time periods, media, and cultures.

The gallery was founded in 1983 with a gift from Arthur Ross to share his joy of art by bringing important works to campus to inspire new generations. The Arthur Ross Gallery is in the landmark Fisher Fine Arts Library building designed by Frank Furness, in the center of Penn’s campus.

220 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Between Walnut and Spruce Streets

Located in Fisher Fine Arts Library



David C. Driskell (1931-2020) was a leading American artist, scholar and curator who organized more than 35 exhibitions of work by fellow Black artists and was central to establishing African American art as a field of study. He worked primarily in collage, mixed media, and printmaking. He retired from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1998 as Distinguished University Professor of Art and taught for more than a decade at Fisk University, where he curated numerous shows highlighting Black artists. He received a National Humanities Medal in 2000. In 2001, the University of Maryland established the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and the Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora, which now holds a majority of Driskell’s original artworks and papers.