On August 26, Scripps College’s Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery will present Gettin’ It Done: A Selection of Work by Elizabeth Catlett, Samella Lewis, Betye Saar, Emma Amos, Alison Saar, Letitia Huckaby, LaToya Hobbs and Kenturah Davis. The exhibition, which continues through October 15, features almost 50 works by celebrated Black artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, September 16, from 6 to 9 p.m. Both the reception and Gallery admission are free and open to the public.
In particular, Gettin’ It Done will highlight pieces from the Samella Lewis Contemporary Art Collection at Scripps, which focuses on works by women and artists of color. The collection, which honors the legacy of Scripps College Professor Emerita of Art History Samella Lewis, was created in 2007 by former Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Director of the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery Mary MacNaughton ’70, Scripps alumna and artist Alison Saar ’78, and Professor Emerita Susan Rankaitis. Lewis, who died in May 2022, was an art historian, curator and celebrated visual artist. She was the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in fine art and art history at the Ohio State University and the first tenured Black professor at Scripps.
“Through her art, her teaching, her writing, and her advocacy, Dr. Lewis profoundly impacted not only Scripps College, but the entire fields of art and art history,” says Erin M. Curtis, Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Director of the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery. “This exhibition not only celebrates her accomplishments, but explores the themes that animated her work, particularly the realities of Black life in the United States during the 20th century.”
In addition to pieces in the Samella Lewis Contemporary Art Collection, the exhibition will feature artworks loaned by the Talley Dunn Gallery of Dallas, the Matthew Brown Gallery of Los Angeles, and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation in Portland, OR. Additional key lenders to the exhibition include LaToya M. Hobbs, Robert E. Holmes, Alitash Kebede, JoAnn and James Newton, and the estate of Samella and Paul Lewis.
“The work in the exhibition expresses humanity and hope, while shedding light on the complexities of Black women’s experiences,” says Curtis. “Mentorship is a key theme in the exhibition: Elizabeth Catlett taught Samella Lewis at Dillard University, and Samella Lewis mentored Alison Saar at Scripps College. Gettin’ It Done is imbued with Dr. Lewis’ creative force and singular vision.”