Black Archives exhibition displays journey of art collector

The Black Archives debuted an exhibit Friday.

“Distant Places: The Artistic Journey of Eugene Aaron” was organized by Florida A&M student curators and featured FAMU alumnus Eugene Aaron’s donated artworks. 

Many of the art pieces Aaron donated are works he collected while traveling to America, Cuba, Paraguay and Suriname. His collection describes his journey going to these areas.

Aaron decided to donate his work to FAMU because his collection became too large. He believes FAMU is a great university that deserves to have a great art collection. 

“I did want to share them with the outside world,” Aaron said. “Based on the way they’ve been received, I’m really happy that I have. They’re beautiful works, and people should see them.” 

Murell Dawson, one of the supervising curators, explained how Aaron’s work fit perfectly within the museum’s mission.

“We are charged with preserving and displaying and safeguarding memorabilia on African-Americans, especially throughout the Diaspora,” Dawson said. “His collection was a perfect fit. His story was a perfect fit. His role as an alumnus was a perfect fit.”

Dawson titled the exhibit. She thought it described the art collection well.

Aaron said he began collecting art in America in the mid-1980s. When he went overseas with the U.S. Foreign Service, he became interested in the different cultures. Whenever he visited a new area, he would go to a local art gallery. 

“The pictures are different because they come from different cultures and different peoples,” Aaron said. “But I think there’s some commonality. Many of the countries I served in were developing countries.” 

Aja Roache, another supervising curator at the museum, said the student curators worked very hard to organize the event.

“They had to select the artwork, installed the art exhibition and they had to put the artwork up,” Roache said. 

Qadeera Allen, a sophomore visual arts student from Fort Lauderdale, is one of the student curators who helped put the exhibition together. Allen said her experience with this project has been wonderful.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Allen said. “It has broadened my knowledge on setting up exhibitions, such as the research and the steps and process that you have to take to prepare for one.” 

FAMU students were able to participate in the exhibition by reading poetry and playing music selections on the saxophone, guitar, keyboard and drums. The music was from FAMU’s Music and Entertainment Industry Student Association. 

Dominic Eaton, a freshman computer engineering student from Pensacola, Fla., described the artwork Aaron donated as nice and moving.

“I think it is amazing he chose us out of the many schools he could have donated his art to, to support FAMU,” Eaton said.