Norman S. Rice Memorial Lecture | Unnamed Figures: Black Presence & Absence in the Early American North

Speaker: Emelie Gevalt, Curator of Folk Art at the American Folk Art Museum.

Admission: FREE

This program will explore the themes in the current American Folk Art Museum exhibition, Unnamed Figures: Black Presence and Absence in the Early American North, which features two watercolors by the 19th century American artist, physician, and scientist James Eights on loan from the Albany Institute.

Drawing on extensive new research from the show as well as her doctoral dissertation, Gevalt will present rare examples of early African American representation in the Northeast through portraiture, landscape, needlework, sculpture, and other vernacular forms. Brought together for the first time in what The New York Times calls a “vitally important, deeply moving" exhibition, these objects prompt new considerations of old images, offering a window onto Black representation in a region that is often overlooked in narratives of early American history.

Norman S. Rice was an integral part of the Albany Institute of History & Art and the Albany cultural community for nearly 70 years, from his arrival as curator in 1953, through a 19-year tenure as director, and then director emeritus following his retirement in 1986, until his death in 2021. Many of the great treasures that visitors and researchers to the Albany Institute enjoy and appreciate today came to the collections through Norman’s diligent and unstinting efforts. Over the decades he visited countless private collections and guided several important donations to the Institute. He attended numerous auctions, explored galleries and shops, and donated many exceptional treasures himself, all to enrich the museum’s holdings.

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