Art League donates ‘Black Orheus’ book to public library

Published 5:37 pm Wednesday, July 19, 2023

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Suffolk Art League recently presented its annual book donation to the Suffolk Public Library. 

The book, “Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club,” is a catalog of images from the Chrysler Museum of Art’s exhibit that was on display from October 2022 through January 2023. 

The organization donates an art-related book or collection of books to enhance the Suffolk Public Library’s Arts and Culture collection. This year’s selection is from the Chrysler Museum shop, featuring a full-color catalog of the exhibit co-organized by the Chrysler Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art. 

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The Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club exhibit is a collection of more than 125 objects from the Mbari Artists and Writers Club featured in the arts and culture magazine, Black Orpheus which the Mbari Club published from 1957-67. 

The Mbari Artists and Writers Club was an artistic organization of Nigerian-based artists from all artistic expressions, which promoted modern African and international artistic practices rooted in African culture. The Mbari Club’s publication featured artists from across the globe including American painter, Jacob Lawrence. Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) was an American Afrocentric, “Dynamic Cubist” painter who used a bright color palette and repeated shapes and patterns that transcended a modern interpretation of everyday life. 

Lawrence’s illustrative narrative of African American way of life and historical events gained him recognition as a prolific painter and a trailblazer in the art world. 

Lawrence was one of the first African American artists to have a painting acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1941, during the height of segregation. The exhibit allowed viewers to experience the lesser-known Nigerian Series of paintings by Lawrence from one of his many influential visits to the country during the 1960s. 

The local community had the pleasure of viewing this culturally rich exhibit at the Chrysler Museum last year, SAL officials said in a news release. The Suffolk Art League found the exhibit catalog an appropriate donation for the expansion of the library’s collection due to the vast cultural richness of African Diasporan artists recording the historical importance of African culture during a poignant time in history across the globe from the American Civil Rights Movement and Nigerian Independence. 

For information on this or any other program offered by the Suffolk Art League, call 757-925-0448 Tuesdays through Thursdays 10 am to 4 pm, email or visit or its social media platforms on Facebook and Instagram.