carrie-mae-weems-blue-black-boy_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — The work of three distinctive African-American female artists on display at the Museum of Art-Fort Lauderdale evokes images that touch on history, culture and human behavior.

Connecting all of their works is the issue of identity in various forms: physical, emotional, personal, racial, sexual and historical.

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The artwork is among more than 50 pieces of contemporary paintings, sculptures and photographs owned by Francie Bishop Good and her husband, David Horvitz, of Fort Lauderdale.

The work is deftly displayed at the museum in an exhibit titled, With You I Want to Live.
The collection focuses on female contemporary artists with innovative visualization in painting, photography and video from the 1960s to the present.

“Carrie Mae Weems, Kara Walker and Ellen Gallagher are among the best-known, African-American artists working today,’’ Good said in an email to the South Florida Times.  “Their works explore issues of race and identity each in their own unique ways, and I do think they are excellent examples of the artists’ bodies of work.”

Good continued: “What these artists represent is consistent with our vision for our collection. They do have an edge. 
They are especially well done.  They raise questions about our place in the world and our relationships with one another.’’

The title, With You I Want To Live, is taken from Tracey Emin’s neon wall sculpture that is currently in a separate exhibit at the museum.

With Fort Lauderdale now arguably a new art mecca, art lovers are being offered a sneak peek into the private galleries of several local arts activists, philanthropists and collectors.

“Collecting is a very personal adventure, and Francie Bishop Good and David Horvitz have been very generous to share their choices and their enthusiasm for the art of today,’’ Irvin M. Lippman, the museum’s executive director, said in a prepared statement. “Fort Lauderdale is privileged to have such assiduous collectors, and in a broader sense, it is exciting that we will be able to feature so many young artists whose work will be shown here for the first time.”

Kara Walker is a contemporary African-American artist who is best known for her room-sized montage of black cut-paper silhouettes, eliciting a controversial attitude to race, identity and gender issues for African Americans, especially for women.  Walker also uses violent images from historical textbooks to show the exploitation of enslaved Africans during the antebellum South, as seen in her works at the museum.

In Walker’s Untitled (Male Figure), she incorporates the eighteenth-century, traditionally proper Victorian medium which features the striking images of a black man carrying a presumably lynched man on a stick. In her Untitled (Female Figure), the mammy image holds a child upside down to suggest the themes of power, repression, history, race and sexuality.

Ellen Gallagher’s work also explores issues of race and identity. In Untitled, 2002, she depicts black female silhouettes with white stringy hair that is entwined. Using repetition of images found in magazines, her mixed media on paper depicts African Americans’ hair and facial features.

Upon close inspection of Gallagher’s work, within the multiple sea creatures with different hairstyles are texts that name synthetic hair: “Genuine Human Hair,” “Wonder Wig” and “Freedom Puff.”

“It’s all about women and their identity. I think that it is wonderful, powerful works that very simply ask you some basic questions about the biases that people have,” Lippman said.

Also in the exhibit is the work of Carrie Mae Weems, an award-winning photographer and artist who has created a rich array of photographs that focus on issues of racism, gender relations, politics and personal identity.

In the museum display, Weems’ Blue Black Boy and Magenta Colored Girl color photographs address the objectification of African Americans by using different shades of color to examine race and gender issues.

Many collectors in South Florida such as Good and Horvitz are now opening up the walls of their homes and inviting the public in to share their personal tastes, hoping to impact the entire local community of collectors, donors and artists.

“There is a growing contemporary art scene in Fort Lauderdale,’’ Good said. “To some extent, this is a spill-over from the highly vibrant Miami contemporary art scene.  Fort Lauderdale has always had its artists and its collectors.  There is an interest in contemporary art, and there are real opportunities in Broward to participate.”

Photo by Khary Bruyning. “Blue Black Boy” by Carrie Mae Weems


What: With You I Want to Live exhibit, now through Oct. 12, 2009.

Where: The Museum of Art-Fort Lauderdale, One East Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

When: Daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours on Thursdays until 8 pm.

Cost: Adults, $10; $7 for students 6 to 17, as well as military and seniors (65+). College students with a valid ID, children 5 and under, students 6 to 17 with a Broward County Library card, and museum members are admitted free. On Mother’s Day, May 10, mothers will be admitted for free.

Contact: For more information, call 954-525-5500 or visit