The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Sep 21, 2013

Perez Art Museum Miami launches African-American art collection with Knight funds

Posted by marika.lynch

Faith Ringgold’s Black Light Series #1: Big Black (1967), now a part of the Perez Art Museum Miami's permanent collection. Photo credit:

When it opens on the Miami waterfront in December, the Perez Art Museum Miami will have a collection devoted to contemporary African-American art, thanks to a $1 million gift from Knight Foundation and real estate developer and art collector Jorge M. Perez, the Miami Herald reported. For Knight, the funding is a way to ensure the new museum both reflects and engages the community that surrounds it.

"Diversity is one of our great assets. Collections that reflect the range of our cultures might challenge us; but if it’s great art, it will not only inspire us, it will connect us to one another and to our Miami home,” Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation’s president, said of the gift.

PAMM has already purchased three works for the collection. According to the museum, they include Faith Ringgold’s Black Light Series #1: Big Black (1967), the first of a series in which the artist explored a dark palette and a painting that was shown in 2012 at the museum; Al Loving’s Untitled #32, (1975), an important example of Loving’s work produced during a dynamic period in the early 1970s when he began to literally rip apart his paintings and then sew back together the pieces of his canvases; and Xaviera Simmons’s Untitled (Pink) (2009) whose photographs reference and challenge Western notions of the “pastoral” or “sublime.”

To help guide acquisitions, a group of art professionals will serve on an advisory board for the collection. In addition to PAMM's Director Thom Collins and Chief Curator Tobias Ostrander, members include Naomi Beckwith, the Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Carole F. Hall, former editor of African-American interest books at John Wiley & Sons Adler Guerrier, Haitian-born artist living and working in Miami; Tumelo Mosaka, contemporary curator at the Krannert Art Museum in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois; Lowery Stokes Sims, Charles Bronfman International Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York; and Michele Wallace, an English professor at the City University of New York.

In 2007, Knight Foundation also provided a $10 million endowment grant to PAMM, to ensure that 40,000 Miami-Dade students will enjoy the collection annually.

The collection of African-American contemporary art is so far unnamed.

“We believe that there are likeminded patrons out there who believe in the idea of this fund allowing the museum to create a more diverse collection and because of that, we’ve chosen not to name the fund based upon our gift,” Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation’s vice president/arts told the Herald. “We want to give somebody else the chance to step up and take advantage of that opportunity.”

Back to top