About This Exhibition

Permanent Collection of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. Generously donated by Bank of America Corporation.

Organized by the Harvey B. Gantt Center

Since the establishment of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Afro-American Cultural and Service Center in 1974, women have been at the core of its foundation. As the organization evolved to the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, the foundation of strength, vision and dedication — despite challenges and tribulations demonstrated by the Gantt’s founding mothers Drs. Bertha Maxwell-Roddey and Mary Harper — still stands decades later.

As we approach the milestone celebration of 45 years as an institution and 10 years in our award-winning facility this year, we take another look at the imprint of women on our society and pay homage to the women who helped make the Gantt Center a reality. Our two founding mothers envisioned and then established a place that would stem the erasure of Charlotte’s African-American heritage. The Gantt stands proudly today as a prominent public space that celebrates African-American art, history and culture, as well as the multi-dimensional role of African-American women in our country.

This exhibition, A Woman’s Work: Selections from the John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African American Art, encompasses a multitude of women and their many roles, identities and experiences. It places the focus of attention on the black woman – as the center of family, as a sister, worker and the epitome of womanhood. Interlaced with unwavering love, kinship and perseverance, the works on display combine vivid imagery, light sketches, intricate patterns and a sense of reality and wonder.

Alexys Taylor on "A Woman's Work"

About the John and Vivian Hewitt Collection

Vivian HewittWe wanted the John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African American Art to be used as an educational tool for young people and to acquaint the general public with African-American artists who…were not in the mainstream.
– Mrs. Vivian Hewitt

For over a 50-year period, John and Vivian Hewitt visited galleries, artists' studios and exhibitions, collecting hundreds of paintings, etchings and sketches. The John & Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art is an assemblage of fifty-eight two-dimensional works celebrating the expression and passion of twenty artists, including Charlotte-born Romare Bearden and other master artists, Margaret Burroughs, Jonathan Green, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Ann Tanksley and Henry Ossawa Tanner.

Return to list

Image credits: Woman Washing Clothes, 1970, Charles Alston, Hewitt Collection, Generously Donated by Bank of America