When asked about the importance of such events, especially on the campus of FAMU, Valencia Mathews, dean of the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, said,
“I think one of the major things is that it allows us the audience the opportunity to see what artists are doing and how it impacts what's happening in life. It gives our audiences an opportunity to come in and learn from it and enjoy it, so long as we're talking about entertaining and giving the audience an opportunity to enjoy what's happening and learn from it I think we have done our job.”
“It's a small program, but the thing that is significant about it is that they continue to produce work themselves, and they continue to exhibit the work of other artists,” Matthews added. “I think it's a lab for our students and as long we continue to do those things on a high level then we are certainly fulfilling our mission.”
The Foster-Tanner Fine Arts Center is named after William P. Foster, founder and former director of FAMU’s Marching 100 band, and the African-American artist Henry O. Tanner.
Aja Roache, gallery director of the Foster-Tanner gallery, said, “We offer this all media exhibition meaning it’s not limited to specific forms of art. It’s open for everyone to participate in the only stipulations are that it has to be artwork created in the past two years and the artist has to be over the age of 18. Here at the gallery you will always find something everyone can appeal to and reflect on.”
The Foster Tanner gallery has been serving the university for more than 50 years. As stated on the university’s official website, www.famu.edu, the Foster-Tanner gallery has hosted many international and national art viewings. Faith Ringgold, Thembinkosi Goniwe, Elizabeth Catlett, Jun Zhao, Sonya Clark and selections from the Bernard and Shirley Kinsey Collection are a few honorable artists who have showcased their work in the gallery. The gallery focuses on the promotion and incorporation of visual art and music.
“What people do not realize, is that everything is art and you don't have to pick and choose what you like and what you don't like. The medium that I love is clay, most times when people think of doing art they think of painting and drawing but clay has been around for thousands of years,” said Glendia Cooper, a showcased artist at the exhibit. Cooper’s clay sculptures titled “Sugar Hill” & “Gabrielle and Annie Mae” were shown at the exhibit and have an estimated value of $900.
The gallery is known for showcasing top-notch works of art, especially from African culture.