Almost 20 years after North Carolina Central University was founded, Dr. James Shepard appointed Marion Parham Cordice as the Director of Art Studies. In 1977, NCCU opened an art museum that has become well known for its significant art exhibitions and extensive collection which includes masterpieces from artists such as Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett and Barkley Hendricks. According to the current Museum Director Kenneth Rodgers, “The act of collecting and preserving objects is at the center of the NCCU Art Museum’s domain and this must continue.”
Over the years, NCCU Department of Art has published more than 40 educational pieces and exhibition catalogs. In 2002, a publication was named “Catalog of the Year” by the NC Museum’s Council. Notable alumni include artists Ernie Barnes, Willie Nash, Ivey Hayes, Beverly McIver and Stephen Hayes. Alumni have also become successful educators, graphic designers, photographers, art consultants and gallery owners.
Today the NCCU Department of Art is headed by Connie Floyd. Visual communications and digital art are strengths of the department. Former Department Chair, Melvin Carver began a study-abroad program with the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana.
The NCCU Department of Art’s anniversary events will highlight the accomplishments of alumni and faculty. The celebration will begin in September with the opening of the Isabel Chicquor Tribute exhibition. The late Chicquor, a former NCCU professor, was a nationally recognized artist of photography, drawing and sculpture. In November, the NCCU Art Museum will present an exhibition of artwork by alumni. Additional anniversary events will include a wine and painting workshop as well as a series of lectures and receptions. The final event will be a banquet with a silent auction of art donated by current and retired faculty as well as local artists.
The anniversary events will provide the department with funds to increase student scholarships, expand the Art Museum and grow its staff. Kenneth Rodgers noted that the NCCU Department of Art and Museum “should continue to play a significant education role in the university community and beyond, teaching African American art history and providing exhibitions to introduce students to the best examples of African American artist’s work”. Support from alumni and the community is critical to ensuring this institution can continue to thrive for another 75 years. For more information about anniversary events, visit www.nccu.edu/artmuseum.