By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Often in an exhibition, there’s some sort of universal theme that ties the pieces all together. In Cedarburg Art Museum’s exhibition “Eye of the Beholder: African Americans Collecting Art” the pieces are each unique aside from the fact that they are all on loan from various African American collectors.
Evelyn Patricia Terry, the guest curator for the exhibition, said that art and the collecting of art is subjective.
“The work that people collect is from their point of view. There’s no wrong or right way,” she said.
Terry has always been interested in art. As a child she enjoyed drawing, but she never viewed art as a viable career path. Her mother, who encouraged her children to pursue a higher education, suggested that Terry study home economics at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM).
While Terry knew how to sew and cook, she struggled in her classes. Then she took an art class and was hooked. At the end, her teacher recommended a career in the arts.
“My mom’s going to kill me,” Terry thought. But she soon found herself in Mitchell Hall, which houses the UWM art department, in a print making class and was immediately smitten. Although she had to drop out and switch to MATC, Terry later returned to UWM and earned two degrees.
She later attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned a master’s in fine arts. During this time, Terry briefly moved to Florida, got married, had children and divorced.
Through it all, she continued to make her art, curate exhibitions and collect.
Terry was first introduced to the world of collecting through a visiting professor who brought pieces from his collection to show the class. Entranced by the idea, Terry soon began collecting pieces that she enjoyed. Today, she has over 300 pieces.
During the time it took to curate “Eye of the Beholder” Terry joked that if all else failed, she had enough pieces for a display.
There are different types of collectors, she stressed. Everyone has their own story on how they got into collecting and how they approach it, hence the name of the exhibition “Eye of the Beholder.” It’s a nod to 24 collectors who agreed to share pieces from their collection for an exhibition that now has 70 artworks.
The exhibition took eight months to curate. Some of the collectors are artists and others are introduced to it via partners, family or friends. A lot of the pieces featured in the exhibition are pieces that are culturally relevant to that collector, Terry said.
Terry personally tries to collect work from the artists around her. Another collector collects works done by black or African American artists and yet another collects work by women that features women.
Collecting is personal in more ways than one. Each piece was chosen for a reason and means something to the person collecting it.
The exhibition is now open and will be on display until Sunday Sept 27. The museum is located at W63N675 Washington Ave. Due to the pandemic; the number of guests is limited. For additional information visit the museum website https://www.cedarburgartmuseum.org/current.