African American Women in Art Exhibit Opens

The UCR Libraries display curated by renowned artist Charles Bibbs includes work commissioned for “The Secret Life of Bees.”

Painting with image of Whoopie Goldberg in "The Color Purple"

“The Color Purple” by Wataru is part of an exhibit honoring African American women.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Images of African American women as church lady, soul sister and black Madonna fill display cases in “The Spirit of African American Women in Art” exhibit in the lobby of the Tomás Rivera Library at the University of California, Riverside. The artwork will remain on display throughout February in a celebration of Black History Month.

Curated by internationally known artist Charles Bibbs, the exhibit includes 13 depictions of African American women in artwork and ranging from acrylics and charcoal to photography and lithographs. Among the works are two pieces by Bibbs:  “Tubman’s War,” a mixed media presentation of Harriett Tubman, who escaped slavery to become a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad; and “The Black Madonna,” commissioned for the film “The Secret Life of Bees” and created using a process known as giclee – digital prints made on ink-jet printers.

“It is wonderful to have art works by African American artists of the caliber of Charles Bibbs and his colleagues exhibited in the UCR Libraries in celebration of Black History Month,” said Ruth Jackson, university librarian. “This is the first such exhibit to be hosted by the libraries and represents what we hope will be future opportunities to further expand the UCR Libraries’ role as a cultural as well as an intellectual center.”


Charles Bibbs

UCR Libraries will host a panel and reception featuring Bibbs and other artists of color on Feb. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Rivera Library lobby. The event is free and open to the public. Parking costs $6. Reservations are requested by Feb. 24; contact Carole Meyer-Rieth at (951) 827-3221 or

Bibbs, who lives in Riverside, is one of the top-selling African American artists in the country. His works have appeared in exhibitions at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles, the Howard University Blackburn Gallery in Washington, D.C., the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, the Museum of African American Art in Los Angeles, and the Tokyo International Fine Art Show.

“Black Madonna” by Charles Bibbs

He has received numerous awards and honors, among them the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the African American Chamber of Commerce, the United Negro College Foundation Honoree Award, and the NAACP Freedom Community Award. He is the founder of Images Magazine, Art on Tour, Art 2000 Visual Arts Association, and the Inland Empire Music and Arts Foundation, and is the co-founder of the Creative Quarantine, an artist and residence program, and the Bibbs Mentorship Program, which educates and supports aspiring artists.

In addition to “The Spirit of African American Women in Art” exhibit, the UCR Rivera Library is also hosting on the main floor an exhibition by the UCR office of African Student Programs documenting the history of the African American student life experience at UC Riverside. This year marks the 40th anniversary of African Student Programs. For more information on the exhibit, contact Ken Simons at (951) 827-4576 or

“Few people remember or are aware of the fact that the Black Voice newspaper was originated on our campus by African American students during the 1970s as a means of having a voice in the future direction of the university,” Jackson said. “As the most diverse campus within the University of California and the 4th most diverse in the nation, this is a unique opportunity to learn more about the history, growth and development of multiculturalism and race relations within the UC system, at UCR, and in the city of Riverside.”


Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Ruth Jackson
Tel: (951) 827-3221

Ken Simons
Tel: (951) 827-4576

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