African, African-American art gallery to open in Jester

Rachel Freeman

Under a few small white walls, hidden away on the second floor of a university dorm, a new art exhibit nears its opening date.

The John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies is funding a new art gallery on the second floor of the Jester Center near the Sanger Learning Center. The $1.1 million project will finish by mid-January 2016 and create space to host African and African-American art.

The exhibits will focus on the African diaspora from galleries around the world, and they will be open to the UT community and the general public, according to manager of University operations Laurie Lentz.

Stephanie Lang, program coordinator for the Warfield Center, said she believes the gallery will help raise awareness about African and African-American art and culture. Although the Warfield Center already owns many pieces of art, this new facility will have state of the art equipment, which will enable the center to loan from other galleries and display pieces on a larger scale, according to Lang.

“The gallery will expose people to art from African Diaspora, which has been lacking,” Lang said. “This project will help everyone in the community to see examples of varied backgrounds and perspectives, which is always a great thing.”

Biology senior Ashley Oliphant said she is excited to have an increase in diversity of art and awareness of black culture on campus. Oliphant said she has never been to a gallery that focuses on African and African-American art and said she is excited to visit the exhibits once they open.

“It’s dope that this gallery is opening,” Oliphant said. “It’ll be nice to have somewhere to go other than the Malcolm X lounge to appreciate a display of African and African-American inspiration.”
Business sophomore Owen Schoenfeld said he thinks the money could have been spent elsewhere, but he said he considers the gallery’s addition a good move on the University’s part.

“Even for people who this doesn’t have a direct relevance to, it’s still important,” Schoenfeld said. “There’s a lot of diversity on campus, and this is one way to represent it. The gallery will help represent how the University — particularly as one from the South — is taking steps in the right direction towards appreciating cultures of all races equally.”