Join us: Thursday, April 21st (@ 6PM; Int’l. Room at Kettering University, 5th Floor.)
I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to present my family’s collection of African-American fine art to about 100 Kettering University students. The show was due to take place during Black History Month, but had to be rescheduled due to bad weather. For months, I’ve been in conversations with Kettering’s staff: Mr. Ricky D. Brown, (Associate Director, Office of Multi-Cultural Student Initiatives) and mainly through Ms. Stephanie M. Jones (Assistant Director, Office of Multi-Cultural Student Initiatives and Office of Student Life). This event seeks to educate, encourage, and engage others regarding African-American art and subject matter.
While nothing radically changed my life as Jesus Christ has, the Lord uses this genre to definitely enhance my life, my family’s, and to inspire others. Years prior, I thought art was useless folly for the upper-echelon and wealthy. Because I didn’t appreciate it (…at the time) or quite frankly understand it, I had no use for it in my life so I thought. That all changed…thank God…on January 23rd, 2009 when Davida and I purchased our first artwork (entitled, The Disciples See Christ Walking on the Water) by the late, great, African-American master artist, Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859 – 1937).
Tanner was an exceptional artist, as well as an extraordinary man. His father, Bishop Benjamin Tanner, did his best to mold his son into his footsteps. The preacher’s son tried to let his father know that he appreciated his guidance, as well as preaching and encouragement for parishioners to invite Jesus Christ into their daily lives. In contrast, the younger Tanner’s calling differed from church pulpit to canvas paintings. He once stated, “…I will preach with my brush.” However, after seeing his son’s passion and prowess as an artist, his father relented. Although Henry Ossawa Tanner didn’t follow Bishop Tanner’s lead into the pulpit, he offered his gifts and unique skills without reservation using “…images, not words, to extend an invitation.” [The latter quote was written by David Neff in Christianity Today magazine’s June 3, 2015 article entitled, “Preacher with a Paintbrush.”]
The next year, I was unexpectedly downsized, and I knew we’d have to sell our precious art asset. It was sold via an art dealer in NYC and we received enough to meet the needs of our family. As a result, to this day, I thank God for art! I’ve found great joy learning about African-American fine art, artists, and their beautiful creations.
I love the old gospel hymn, How Great Thou Art. While I know this speaks to God’s sovereign greatness, I am also appreciative that the Lord has given me insight to better understand beauty from His hands, as well as the hands of others. Although my name is Anthony J. Artis, and I do not draw, I sincerely esteem folk like Henry Ossawa Tanner who so marvelously can!