UMES Mosely Gallery Presents Purpose and Promise

  • Thursday, January 29, 2009

    UMES Mosely Gallery Celebrates Black History Month with
    Purpose and Promise the Art of Bryan Collier

    Collier, Bryan PaintingPRINCESS ANNE, MD-Award winning book illustrator and painter Bryan Collier displays his work February 2-27 in the Mosely Gallery on the UMES campus as part of the Black History Month celebration.  A reception for the show, "Purpose and Promise," takes place on Thursday, February 12, from 4-6 p.m.  The artist will be on hand for a discussion on his art and a book signing.       

    Collier grew up in Pocomoke, the youngest of six children. His interest in art started early. "At home and at school, I was encouraged to read. I remember the first books with pictures that I read by myself were 'The Snow Day' by Ezra Jack Keats and 'Harold and the Purple Crayon' by Crockett Johnson. I liked the stories, but I really liked the pictures," he said.  He developed a unique style of painting that incorporated both watercolors and collage.

    "Collage is more than just an art style," he said. "Collage is all about bringing different elements together. Once you form a sensibility about connection, how different elements relate to each other, you deepen your understanding of yourself and others." Collier won first place in a congressional competition and his art subsequently was displayed in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. He was also awarded a scholarship through a national talent competition to the Pratt Institute in New York City, where he later graduated with honors with a bachelor of fine arts.

    While attending school in New York, Collier began to volunteer at the Harlem Horizon Studio and Harlem Hospital Center with a program that provides working space and materials for self-taught artists in the community. He went on to become the program director, a position he held for 12 years. Collier still works with the program in Harlem as a volunteer, feeling a deep sense of responsibility to be a positive role model for kids.

    "It gives the community, the schools, the kids and the parents the opportunity to come together for a very positive uplifting cause - the building and re-building of self-esteem, teaching the appreciation of art, and keeping the kids connected, involved and away from negative influences," he said.

    Meanwhile, he made the decision to focus his time and attention on illustrating children's books full time. It wasn't easy getting his art published in books; Collier tried for seven years before he got his break with the publication of his book Uptown.

    Today, he spends his time working on his book illustrations, creating his own studio pieces and going into classrooms to talk with teachers, librarians and students about books and art.

    "I get so much from those school visits. With the books I've been doing, I have this amazing opportunity to bring my art and the process of making artwork and books into the classroom," he said.

    Collier has illustrated and written several books, including "Rosa," "These Hands," "Freedom River" and "Uptown." He is currently on tour with his new children's book on Barack Obama, which is sponsored by Macy's. 

    "We are thrilled to have Bryan Collier exhibit with us at the Mosely Gallery.  He is such a talented and accomplished artist and illustrator and will be an inspiration to our students and the public," said Dr. Anke Van Wagenberg, gallery director.

    The exhibition is sponsored by the Somerset County Arts Council, Delmarva Power and the Links Inc., Princess Anne Chapter.  The Mosely Gallery is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.   For more information, call 410-651-7770.

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    Gail