Juneteenth Celebrations Ignite with 'Black Art in the Sun' Exhibition in Morris County


Art in the Atrium's 31st Annual Exhibit Showcases Diversity and Talent of African American Artists Across New Jersey.

Last night, Morris County launched its Juneteenth festivities with "Black Art in the Sun," an exhibition of African American art. This was the 31st annual display, arranged by Art in the Atrium (ATA) and the County Commissioners, showcased in the Administration and Records Building.

According to ATA's CEO Simone Craig, the event has a rich history. 

"My parents and their friends, Artie and Jackie Bolden of Whippany, and Earl and Erin Shaw of Harding—cofounders of Art in the Atrium—knew the importance of the art displayed here to be reflective of the diverse community in Morris County," Craig explained. "They put up a Black History Month exhibit in January of 1992. They thought that show would just be a one and done… 31 years later, we are now the largest exhibitor of Black fine art in New Jersey.”

The exhibition, which has grown to be the largest African American art show in the state, began last month with a mission to showcase 222 works by 55 artists. The artwork will remain available for public viewing until August 18

The exhibition was funded in part by the Morris County Commissioners, Morris Arts, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ron E. A. Powell, known as "REAP," is the featured artist of this year's exhibition, with 75 of his pieces on display. Powell's artwork, along with the pieces from his fellow artists, symbolize the theme of the event. 

Commissioner Director John Krickus and Ron E. A. Powell.

"Black Art in the Sun speaks volumes in symbolisms and analogies, one being African American art having a true presence and freedom to shine in this world," Powell said.

The opening reception for "Black Art in the Sun" began a Juneteenth weekend packed with events organized by local nonprofit organizations, including a Juneteenth Party Celebration at Morris Museum and a Freedom Day Festival at the Morristown Green.

A visitor takes a moment with one of Ron E. A. Powell’s pieces.

The Atrium Art Gallery is open to the public during regular business hours, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, and until 7:30 pm on Thursdays. The exhibition remains in place until August 18, 2023. Most of the artworks are available for sale, with details and pricing available in free catalogs or online at morrisarts.org.

ATA, a non-profit, Black-led cultural institution, was founded in Morristown, New Jersey, in 1991. Its mission is to showcase the value of Black visual arts and their role in culture. For more information, visit artintheatrium.org.

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