Terra Foundation Report 2019–22

This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World installed at the Hood Museum of Art, January 5–July 23, 2022. Photo by Rob Strong. Copyright 2022 Rob Strong

Letter from Sharon Corwin, Terra Foundation President & CEO

In late 2020, the Terra Foundation initiated a strategic planning process that began with deep listening and learning from our partners and peers within the fields of American art and philanthropy. We embarked on this work acknowledging the imperative and collective responsibility to question existing narratives of American art and to broaden the range of the stories we tell to ensure that the full richness and complexity of American art are represented. We also understood the need to rethink the methods, models, and systems that structure both our own philanthropic work and practices in the field. Only through such reassessments can we address inequities in funding and support systemic changes in American art and in museum practice more broadly.

Our planning process focused on reimagining our approach to supporting the American art field and developing a new conception of the mission, vision, and values that guide our work. Reflecting our commitment to partnership and collaboration, we engaged in dialogue with partners and philanthropic peers to better understand the needs of the field. Ultimately, our strategic planning clarified the nature of our vision and values and culminated in our new mission: In partnership with organizations and individuals locally and globally, the Terra Foundation fosters intercultural dialogues and encourages transformative practices to expand narratives of American art.

In 2020, we provided relief grants to institutions worldwide that were impacted by the unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 pandemic. We funded programs, staff, and general operations related to American art. In response to institutions renewing their focus on developing exhibitions and installations drawn from their own collections, we launched Re-envisioning Permanent Collections, a grant program that supported organizations delving deeply into their collections with the aim of revealing the multiplicity of artworks and voices that have shaped, in the past and up through the present, the artistic and cultural heritage of the United States. These grants provided funding for the planning and implementation of permanent collection reinstallations and for the development of temporary exhibitions drawn from museum collections. Over two rounds of grantmaking, the foundation supported 80 institutions—including 43 first-time Terra Foundation partners—across 34 states and 70 cities in the U.S., with $5.6 million in Re-envisioning Permanent Collections grants.

In the summer of 2022, we embarked on a new strategic direction aligned with our new mission. Expanded narratives of American art are now at the center of each project we support. To encourage inclusive and equitable approaches to scholarship and learning, our strategic framework focuses on the people, content, and practices associated with each project in local and global contexts.

Strategic Framework

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We encourage all supported projects to focus on the diversity of voices to be represented and the expanded range of content to be presented, as well as the application of transformative practices to the research, development, and sharing of each project. This commitment to inclusive and equitable practices across project development and implementation is intended to contribute to positive structural change within the field across cultural institutions worldwide.

Grants Awarded

Green map of the world with blue dots marking various countries. Each dot has a number indicating the number of grants given to organizations in that country.

Over the past three fiscal years, the foundation supported 474 projects amounting to a total of over $30 million. This illustrates a fraction of our grantmaking since 2005 (pictured), when the foundation began its grant program to support American art projects around the world.

It is important that our work encourages the telling of stories reflective of the multivocality and complexity of American art history. We are continuing to realign our responsive grant programs in these new directions, and our strategic framework is now prioritized in the convenings, exhibitions, and collections programs. We will keep testing these strategies and approaches and will modify program requirements based on feedback from our community of partners and peers. 

Our approach to the foundation’s own collection of American art also embodies our new mission. The Terra Collection-in-Residence initiative, a loan partnership program with university and research museums worldwide launched in 2022, invites museums to broaden and deepen the stories they tell with their collections. Loans from the foundation’s collection are intended to provide opportunities for interdisciplinary research and teaching with American art and to encourage the presentation of expanded scholarship and pedagogies.   

In our efforts to work co-generatively, we continue to seek out strategic and philanthropic partnerships worldwide to support projects that reimagine the histories, systems, and practices of American art. We are also committed to an ongoing process of learning from our partners in order to adapt our strategic directions so that they best reflect the needs of our communities of partners. 

Guided by our values and vision to illuminate diverse histories, inspire present connections, and create equitable futures, we support partners who use equitable practices and advance inclusive narratives to redefine American art. We are delighted to share examples of these supported projects with you in the following highlights of our grantmaking over three fiscal years, beginning in July 2019 and ending in June 2022.

Sharon Corwin
President & CEO

Collections Grants

Collections grants provide support for organizations within and outside the United States to reinterpret and re-present their collections through reinstallations or temporary exhibitions drawn from these collections. The collections grant program was launched in 2020 as Re-envisioning Permanent Collections, an initiative created during the COVID-19 pandemic in part to support organizations whose exhibitions necessarily relied heavily on their own collections rather than on loans. At the same time, the program recognized the urgency of addressing inequities in the existing presentations and discussions of American art.

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World, $75,000
The Hood Museum of Art’s first major thematic installation of its American art collection featured Euro-American, African American, Latin American, and Asian American artists, and—for the first time—traditional and contemporary Native American art alongside early-to-contemporary non–Native American art. Accompanied by public programs, an academic conference, and a scholarly publication, the exhibition surveyed artistic responses to the natural world, contending with themes such as climate change, food acquisition and security, and individual and community relationships with the environment.

“As a collaboratively curated project, This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World, raises as many questions as it answers. A main goal of our exhibition is to urge us to consider our own relationships with the natural world and our hopes for its future. It is also a project that we hope will encourage our colleagues to ask difficult questions and engage in meaningful dialogues about what constitutes ‘American’ art as well as who has the power to define it,” said Jami Powell, Curator of Indigenous Art, Hood Museum of Art.

“As a collaboratively curated project, This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World . . . is also a project that we hope will encourage our colleagues to ask difficult questions and engage in meaningful dialogues about what constitutes ‘American’ art as well as who has the power to define it.”

Jami Powell, Curator of Indigenous Art, Hood Museum of Art
A photograph of a brightly lit museum gallery featuring three large contemporary paintings, a canoe, and an object in a case.

This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World installed at the Hood Museum of Art, January 5–July 23, 2022. Photo by Rob Strong.

The Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, Nashville, TN, The Sculpture of William Edmondson: Tombstones, Garden Ornaments, and Stonework, $51,600
This monographic exhibition drawn from the permanent collection of the Cheekwood Estate & Gardens was the first large-scale museum examination of William Edmondson’s career in over twenty years. Drawing upon new scholarship to reevaluate the breadth of the artist’s sculptural output, the exhibition was centered on their collection of 22 Edmondson sculptures—the largest public collection of his work.

“Cheekwood was honored to present The Sculpture of William Edmondson: Tombstones, Garden Ornaments, and Stonework. Installed in the artist’s hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, the exhibition highlighted Cheekwood’s significant holdings of Edmondson and Edmondson-related works. The project’s goals were to present the exhibition, to publish an accompanying catalogue, and to complete a digitization initiative resulting in new scholarship around Edmondson’s work and exposing a broader audience to the artist’s legacy within the context of American art. The project highlighted Cheekwood’s significant art collection and encouraged audiences to engage with art and artists both in-person and virtually,” said Sarah Katherine Woodhull, Senior Manager of Institutional Relations, Cheekwood Estate & Gardens.

People viewing an exhibition of stone sculptures. The sculptures are white stones in various shapes resembling animals and seated human figures.

Visitors to The Sculpture of William Edmondson: Tombstones, Garden Ornaments, and Stonework, 2021, Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. Photo by Warner Tidwell.

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA, reinstallation of American art galleries, $75,000
The Seattle Art Museum says of its American art galleries reinstallation: “For the first time in 15 years, the Seattle Art Museum reinstalled its American art galleries, driven by a desire to reinterpret its historical collection to meet the present moment. Previously, the installation did not fully consider the many histories and perspectives that have driven cultural production in North America from the seventeenth century to World War II, particularly those in the Pacific Northwest. American Art: The Stories We Carry takes a dramatically different approach, bringing the historical American art collection into conversation with Native, Asian American, African American, Latinx, and contemporary art. Of note are a gallery curated by artist Inye Wokoma, and new commissions of work by Wendy Red Star and Nicholas Galanin, among others. This framework brings forward historically excluded narratives and artistic forms, opening up new opportunities for curiosity, critique, and connection. The results are indebted to an extensive collaboration among curators, staff, artists, community advisors, and supporters.”

Theresa Papanikolas, Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art, Seattle Art Museum, added: “My hope for equity in the arts going forward is that the exploration never ends. Notions of equity are constantly going to change, and this is important work that we need to keep on doing.”

A group of people look at a painting while a person addresses them, talking about the painting. The painting features a group of people set against a city skyline.

Seattle Art Museum, American art galleries, 2023. Photo by Alborz Kamalizad.

“My hope for equity in the arts going forward is that the exploration never ends. Notions of equity are constantly going to change, and this is important work that we need to keep on doing.”

Theresa Papanikolas, Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art, Seattle Art Museum

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis, IN, reinstallation of Native American Gallery, $75,000
Comprising around 400 objects drawn primarily from the Eiteljorg’s collection, augmented with select loans—and informed by the museum’s 30-plus-year-old Native American Advisory Council and consultation with local Native nations, tribal representatives, and artists—the reinstallation of the Native American Galleries is organized around the themes of relation, continuation, and innovation.

“With strong breath, our art speaks the voices of those who came before, through the hands of those who are now, for the ears of those who are yet to come. This new exhibition, Expressions of Life: Native Art in North America, is a rare and courageous celebration of those voices. The curators, artists, mountmakers, and curriculum developers all gathered in a communal and groundbreaking way to give full throat to those voices first and foremost. This is what the art deserves. It is what will fascinate the audiences. It is what the Eiteljorg had the courage to do. Come. Listen. Engage in the conversation. We are all welcome here,” said Karen Ann Hoffman (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin), whose work and storytelling are featured in the new galleries.

A gallery installation featuring Native American objects in brightly lit glass cases.

The Eiteljorg Museum’s new Native American Galleries, featuring Expressions of Life: Native Art in North America, showcasing Native art, told through the voices of Native Americans in a multi-sensory, state-of-the-art space. Photo courtesy of Hadley Fruits Photography and the Eiteljorg Museum.

El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY, planning and development for collection reinstallation, $75,000
El Museo del Barrio in New York City held convenings and community-led scholarly workshops dedicated to promoting new perspectives on the institution’s holdings, with the aim of informing the reinstallation of the museum’s collection so that it reflects the rich diversity of Latinx art and visual culture.

El Museo del Barrio’s curatorial department expands on the exhibition planning and development conversations by observing: “Our primary focus with the Terra Foundation research grant was on a series of closed-door think tank discussions with the purpose of creating new perspectives and scholarship about the collection. These conversations, which took place in person and over Zoom during the spring of 2022, ultimately included more than 40 artists, community members, researchers, and museum professionals. In October 2022, we hosted a public-facing program. The six invited speakers contextualized El Museo’s unique collection within historical intersections of art, activism, and Latinx culture. Learnings from these events continue to guide our research process in preparation for an upcoming permanent-collection exhibition, opening in May 2023. Contributions from both think tank and symposium participants will be collected in a publication to accompany this exhibition.”

Composite screen capture of a virtual meeting. Many smaller squares featuring individual people are grouped together to form four blocks of squares set against a black background.

El Museo del Barrio, convening participants

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, Into View: Bernice Bing, $75,000
The exhibition Into View: Bernice Bing is the first rotation of the new exhibition series “Into View,” devoted to bringing pressing social issues in contemporary art into view. Celebrating the museum’s acquisition of 20 paintings and works on paper, the exhibition follows Bing’s career to consider how various stages of the artist’s life—including the influences of Richard Diebenkorn and Saburo Hasegawa and her Fulbright-supported trip to China in the 1980s to study calligraphy—were manifested in her art practice and community activism.

The Asian Art Museum added: “Into View: Bernice Bing is the first in an ongoing series of collection exhibitions championing the work of under-recognized modern and contemporary Asian American artists—part of the recent transformation of the Asian Art Museum that reimagined the visitor experience to more fully reflect the story of Asians in America. Bernice Bing—San Francisco-born, Chinese American, a woman, and a lesbian—created emotionally charged canvases, masterpieces of expressionism that grapple with her outsider status. But by incorporating personal letters, photos, and other intimate ephemera, curator Abby Chen offers audiences a rich, resonant portrait of the artist, one that radiates with Bing’s determination to build the inclusive, supportive artistic community she ultimately never had—a community the Asian Art Museum now proudly belongs to. Bing’s impact on the Bay Area cannot be overstated, and the more open, cross-cultural, and vibrant art scene we enjoy today is thanks, in part, to her life’s work.”

Woman seated in the driver’s seat of a car with no roof. She is smoking a cigarette and looking at the viewer.

Bernice Bing, 1965. Photographer unknown. Photograph courtesy Estate of Bernice Bing.

Exhibitions Grants

Exhibitions grants provide support for organizations within and outside the United States to plan and present temporary exhibitions comprised primarily of loans.

The Block Museum of Art, Chicago, IL, A Site of Struggle: American Art against Anti-Black Violence, $355,000
Originating at the Block Museum and traveling to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, A Site of Struggle explores how artists have engaged with the reality of anti-Black violence and its accompanying challenges of representation in the U.S. The exhibition’s inclusive development process serves as a model for collaborative learning in the field.

A Site of Struggle explores how art has been used to protest, process, mourn, and memorialize anti-Black violence within the United States in the period between 1895 and 2013, starting with the rise of anti-lynching activism and ending with the founding of Black Lives Matter. Through the lens of artistic expression, it contextualized contemporary struggles with racial violence within a wider and deeper history,” said Janet Dees, Steven and Lisa Munster Tananbaum Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Block Museum of Art. “The project was developed through a collaborative and consultative process that involved Block Museum and Northwestern University staff; faculty, students, and members of the Evanston, IL, and Montgomery, AL, communities where the exhibition was on view; as well as academic scholars and museum colleagues. This process fostered broad-based investment in the project and seeded and strengthened relationships that will continue to grow. A multi-faceted structure of care supported a range of responses elicited from visitors to the exhibition and has been cited as a model by colleagues in the field.”

Three people in a museum gallery look at contemporary art objects.

A Site of Struggle: American Art against Anti-Black Violence, Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, 2022. Courtesy of the Block Museum of Art. Photo by Sean Su Photography.

“The project was developed through a collaborative and consultative process . . . A multi-faceted structure of care supported a range of responses elicited from visitors to the exhibition and has been cited as a model by colleagues in the field.”

Janet Dees, Steven and Lisa Munster Tananbaum Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Block Museum of Art

Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, Boston, MA, Simone Leigh: Sovereignty, $150,000
Simone Leigh represented the United States at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, presenting Simone Leigh: Sovereignty, commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The large-scale sculptural works joined forms derived from vernacular architecture and the female body, rendering them via materials and processes associated with the artistic traditions of Africa and the African diaspora. Sovereignty mixes disparate histories and narratives, including those related to ritual performances of the Baga peoples in Guinea, early Black American material culture from the Edgefield District in South Carolina, and the landmark 1931 Paris Colonial Exposition.

“We are grateful to the Terra Foundation for American Art for supporting Simone Leigh: Sovereignty at the Venice Biennale and her upcoming survey exhibition,” said Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director of the ICA. “Both presentations, as well as the forthcoming publication, expand the art historical canon to include overlooked narratives in U.S. histories. Leigh’s art addresses what the artist calls an “incomplete archive” of U.S. history and Black feminist thought, with sculpture that insists on visibility for the intellectual and physical contributions of Black women.”

Abstract sculpture of a female form located in front of a building with a thatched roof.

Simone Leigh: Façade, 2022. Thatch, steel, and wood, dimensions variable. Satellite, 2022. Bronze, 24 feet × 10 feet × 7 feet 7 inches (7.3 × 3 × 2.3 m) (overall). Courtesy the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery. Photo by Timothy Schenck. © Simone Leigh.

KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany, Martin Wong: Malicious Mischief, $175,000
Martin Wong: Malicious Mischief is the first large-scale monographic exhibition in Europe of Chinese American artist Martin Wong. The foundation supported the show’s travel to four venues, featuring more than 100 artworks around thematic groupings of place, framing the artist as a key proponent of U.S. countercultural scenes.

“Martin Wong is recognized for his depictions of social, sexual, and political scenographies from the 1970s through 1990s in the U.S. Poetically weaving together narratives of queer existence, marginal communities, and urban gentrification, he stands out as an important countercultural voice,” said Krist Gruijthuijsen, Director of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art. “As the first extensive display of Wong’s works in Europe, Martin Wong: Malicious Mischief is initiated by the KW Institute for Contemporary Art and will be presented in four European institutions: Museo CA2M, KW, Camden Art Centre, and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The support from the Terra Foundation for American Art means that KW, in partnership with the participating venues, can present a guiding voice in this discussion and become a platform for community outreach, which is imperative to our understanding of and work as contemporary art institutions.”

Two paintings hanging in a gallery with royal blue walls. A sculpture about 12 inches tall and a few feet wide in the shape of a heart is in the center of the gallery.

Martin Wong. Malicious Mischief, 2022. Installation view of exhibition at Museo CA2M, Madrid 2022. Photo by Roberto Ruiz. Courtesy of Museo CA2M

Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, Devour the Land: War and American Landscape Photography since 1970, $100,000
Beginning its trajectory in the 1970s, this exhibition showcased connections between environmental activism and photography that expand to our contemporary moment through approximately 160 photographs across six thematic groupings.

Makeda Djata Best, the Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography at Harvard Art Museums, observed: “Photography exhibitions on the environment are often not associated with curators of color. I hope this project helps to shift expectations around who works on what kinds of topics. Communities of color face distinct challenges, and while there has been activism around this issue, this is not included in the story of environmental photography. I wanted to broaden how we think about landscape, especially in urban areas, and to demonstrate that you don’t have to live in rural areas to be a part of the natural world.” Read more in an interview with Best.

Photograph of a greenhouse with glass paneled walls and roof. An orange glow emanates from the inside.

Lucas Foglia, American (b. New York City, 1983), New Crop Varieties for Extreme Weather, Geneva Greenhouses, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, New York, 2013. From the series Human Nature. Archival pigment print. Harvard Art Museums, Richard and Ronay Menschel Fund for the Acquisition of Photographs, 2019.312. © Lucas Foglia; image courtesy of the artist.

Convening Grants

Support for convenings is available for programs that foster exchange and collaboration. Supported programs should advance innovative and experimental research and professional practice in American art and address critical issues facing the field.

Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford, CA, “IMU UR2: Art, Aesthetics, and Asian America” $25,000
This two-day convening at Stanford University brought together artists, curators, and scholars to reimagine the histories and futures of artists of Asian descent through a convening that emphasized dialogue, experimentation, and deep engagement with images.

“‘IMU UR2: Art, Aesthetics, and Asian America’ brought together 40 Asian diaspora artists, makers, curators, and scholars to rethink and reimagine the pasts and futures of Asian American art. Hundreds of people gathered in-person and virtually for this event, which fostered intergenerational conversations about activism, aesthetics, solidarity, and categorization, as well as the affordances and limitations of institutionalization,” said Marci Kwon, Assistant Professor, Art & Art History, Co-Director, Asian American Art Initiative, Cantor Arts Center.

Five speakers are seated on a brightly lit stage against a digital screen featuring an abstract painting by Wifredo Lam. One of the speakers is talking and gesturing with his hands. The other four speakers watch while they listen to the person speak.

Stanford University, Cantor Arts Center, Asian American Art Initiative, October 28–29, 2022, symposium "IMU UR2: Art, Aesthetics, and Asian America Art," Photo by Harrison Truong.

FRONT Exhibition Company, Cleveland, OH, “The Art Futures Forum,” $25,000
This collaborative two-day convening featured conversation around how museums and other arts institutions can better reflect and serve the needs of their communities. The forum considered the scholarly work of art historians and the institutional exhibitions and programs that bring particular stories to life for the public.

“The goal of the project was to stir up much needed conversations around the role of visual arts institutions in equity and social justice. We engaged scholars, arts administrators, artists, community activists, arts leaders, and appreciators of the arts and brought them together for this two-day event, a collaboration between CWRU, Assembly for the Arts, and FRONT International. We discussed urgent issues of equity in the arts, specifically those around power and the ways that predominantly white art institutions can create more relevant and impactful programming reflective of the diverse needs, interests, and aspirations of Greater Clevelanders, with a focus on Black and Brown communities. The connections made that day are now fueling innovative, collaborative, and transformative projects or programs that will be funded by our region’s major foundations,” said Deidre McPherson, FRONT Director of Artistic and Community Initiatives.

A diverse group of people seated at long tables in a classroom setting. They are paying attention to someone or something outside the frame.

FRONT Art Futures Forum, September 17, 2022, Samson Pavilion, Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic. Photo by Asia Armour, courtesy of Deep Roots Experience.

Photography Network, New Brunswick, NJ, “Intersecting Photographies,” $30,000
The Photography Network says of its first in-person symposium, “Intersecting Photographies”: “[It] made the work of two extraordinary women, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier and art historian Tina Campt, come alive for an audience of hundreds of artists, curators, students, and scholars. It was an incredible opportunity to have these speakers, two of the most impressive figures working with photography today, appear both online and in person at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium. Both exhorted the assembled community to use their work as platforms to, as Frazier put it, ‘spring forward for social justice and equity.’ The hybrid symposium drew together an international array of attendees united by their commitment to disentangling photography’s complicated legacy, and it established our newly formed organization as a leading-edge association dedicated to exploring the most compelling issues of our time.”

Five people gather around an open book featuring nine antique photographs of individuals. One person holds the book open with gloved hands and speaks to the group while another person takes a photograph with their cellphone of the open page.

Photography Network symposium "Intersecting Photographies," 2022, National Museum of American History Saturday workshop led by Shannon Perich. Photo by Caroline Riley.

Art Design Chicago

Art Design Chicago is a platform for collaboration and exchange developed with cultural practitioners throughout Chicago. The initiative seeks to catalyze transformative approaches to co-creation and community engagement and stimulate expansive narratives of Chicago art and design, past and present. Grants support community engagement, research and development, exhibitions, convenings, public programs, and publications result in a series of exhibitions and programs.

Center for Native Futures, Chicago, IL, Mound Summit, $25,000
The Center for Native Futures (CfNF) hosted its inaugural bi-annual Mound Summit, which facilitates conversations around the theme of Native and Indigenous Futurisms, in December 2021. Monica Rickert-Bolter, Center for Native Futures, said, “The virtual daylong conference brought together a dozen Indigenous scholars, writers, performers, and artists with more than 200 audience participants. The event was divided into three panel discussions, which featured in-depth conversations with Natives working within institutions and participating in artistic circles across the country. By offering this platform, the panelists connected their similar experiences and ultimately built a larger sense of community. At the same time, audience members were introduced to and heard firsthand the insights offered by these Indigenous creatives and academics. The foundation’s financial support allowed CfNF to host an intellectual and artistic gathering of people from all backgrounds and showcase Native brilliance. CfNF is excited to expand its outreach and provide a forum for more Indigenous scholars and creatives for the 2023 Mound Summit.”

Thirteen small squares set against a gray background. Twelve squares feature photographs of people and one square reads “Center for Native Futures”.

Center for Native Futures, Mound Summit panelists, December 2021

Museum of Vernacular Arts and Knowledge, Chicago, IL, Black Arts Movement School Modality, $25,000
Over the course of two weeks in August 2021, an intergenerational group of students, artists, and scholars from across the United States and around the world met over Zoom to learn about the Black Arts Movement (BAM) from a group of creatives who were central to its flowering in Chicago during the 1960 and ’70s. A nationwide movement led by Black artists and intellectuals, BAM called for creative expression reflecting pride in Black history and culture to awaken Black consciousness and achieve liberation.

The course, dubbed the Black Arts Movement School Modality by its creator, Romi Crawford, Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, explored ideas and knowledge structures that emerged from the movement in Chicago. In describing her goals for BAM School Modality, Crawford said, “The idea of ‘school’ was an important and recurring motif for BAM artists who organized free institutes, workshops, and other teaching and learning experiences in tandem with their artmaking. I wanted to capture the weight of this impulse that was so central to the movement, and to create space for the artists to teach what they know, because universities have not made room for them for systemic reasons.” Read more in a story about BAM School.

Computer screen with people on a group call.

Screenshot of participants in Black Arts Movement School Modality, conceived by Romi Crawford, 2021.

Strategic Initiatives

Strategic Initiatives provide investment in organizations’ capacity building or support for programming efforts to address inequities in current and historical presentations and understandings of American art history. These grants often support programs or test new ideas that challenge the status quo and help reimagine the narratives, practices, and presentations of American art.

Palais de la Porte Dorée, Paris, France, “Sharing Museums,” $73,651
Sharing Museums, a conference held at Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration Palais de la Porte Dorée in Paris, France, brought together museum directors, artists, thinkers, and journalists from countries around the globe for a conversation on diversity, migrations and diaspora, colonial history, and restitutions impacting museums and cultural organizations. The convening invited participants to offer insights on site-specific and shared experiences and to explore different methods, models, and practices that inform the field, allowing cultural institutions to engage with critical approaches and rethink their place and role in society.

“With Sharing Museums, we have collected and combined the views and practices of museums worldwide as they consider their societal role, focusing on three issues that are key to coexistence and remembrance: social cohesion, diversity, and relations between Western countries and former colonies. This international format allowed the sharing and contrasting of viewpoints and the mutual enrichment of the institutions’ practices with new ideas. The audience, composed of actors from the field of culture, students, academia and, more generally, members of the public interested in heritage issues, were given the opportunity to hear about current achievements that may serve as potential sources of inspiration for endeavors in France, and in other countries, since the presentations were available online and will be published. The project signals the institution’s commitment to fostering social cohesion and to work on an international level,” said Constance Rivière, Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration – Aquarium tropical, and Sébastien Gökalp, Director, Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration.

A photograph looking down toward an auditorium stage on which seven people are seated. One person on the stage holds a microphone and addresses the room.

Musées partagés octobre 2022. Photo Anne Volery © Palais de la Porte Dorée

Soul of Nations Foundation, Florence, Italy, residency and professional development program at the Soul Center for the Arts, $150,000
Soul of Nations brings together an international cohort to co-create a semi-virtual, semi in-person program around shared Black and Native American diaspora experiences. Based in Italy, this program allows artist fellows to engage with local communities and bring new learnings, methods, and art back to the U.S. at the conclusion of their residencies.

Darnelle Casimir, Administrative Coordinator, Soul of Nations Inc., observed: “Soul of Nations endeavors to provide emerging and renowned Indigenous and Black visual artists from the United States and Italy with the opportunity to research the modern and historical juxtaposition of distinction and unification among American and European cultures, exhibit original works of art that further cross-cultural dialogue regarding the displaced BIPOC experience, and engage in public restorative healing practices and workshops in the birth country of Christopher Columbus, all the while unearthing the regal legacy of the Tuscan Prince—Alessandro de’ Medici—the first Black head of state in the modern Western world. Partnering with the Terra Foundation for American Art for Soul Center for the Arts’ exhibitions, residency, and humanities programs are helping to ensure the stability and expansion of this unique opportunity that fosters American arts and culture from a contemporary and sociocultural empathetic perspective. Together we can be the voice!”

A black-and-white image of an obscured face with a paper cutout set upon a nose. The cutout has drawn-on eyes and a mouth.

Oumou Aidara, Self Portrait, 2020, photo courtesy of the artist and Soul of Nations

IFF, Chicago, IL, Chicago’s Cultural Treasures, $1,000,000
Five Chicago-based philanthropic organizations—the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Polk Bros. Foundation, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the Walder Foundation—provided $11.75 million in funding for Chicago’s Cultural Treasures, an initiative that supported 40 organizations that contribute to the history, culture, vibrancy, and identity of communities of color in greater Chicago. This regional program is part of the Ford Foundation’s larger America’s Cultural Treasures initiative to acknowledge and honor the diversity of artistic expression in the U.S.

South Side Community Art Center, Chicago, IL, a four-year project to expand the center’s capacity to preserve its art and archival collections, $750,000
The nation’s only continuously operated community art center established as part of the Works Progress Administration, Chicago’s South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC) was created in 1940 by Black artists and remains a vital cultural resource, presenting exhibitions, programs, and events that engage audiences with Black art and artists. The Terra Foundation’s grant supports a four-year project to expand SSCAC’s capacity to preserve its art and archival collections and to make these collections and the stories they tell accessible to the public and to researchers. The collection features art by individuals who were instrumental in SSCAC’s founding and by many others with strong connections to the institution.

“I am thrilled beyond measure to receive this grant to reconstruct the capacity, practices, and protocols for our archives and collections. The Center’s archives proudly house thousands of documents, ephemera papers, photographs, and slides from past stakeholders and contributors that reflect the diverse art history of Chicago’s South Side community and the broader narratives of Black Art History around the country,” said Monique Brinkman-Hill, Executive Director of the South Side Community Art Center. “I view this grant as integral in helping the Center more effectively protect and reimagine both our archives and collections, and, importantly, to provide the type of sustainability that can be appreciated for generations to come.”

The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY, “Unearthing the Archive,” $1,000,000
Since it opened in 1968, the Studio Museum in Harlem has championed Black art and culture. Through its exhibitions, education and public programs, publications, events, permanent collection, artist-in-residence program, and many other activities, the Studio Museum has defined historical themes and concepts, set scholarly standards, and provided support for generations of artists. Unearthing the Archive marks the first time the Studio Museum has comprehensively researched and shared its history and legacy in the shaping of American art. Initiated as the museum constructs its new building to meet the needs of the institution and its communities, Unearthing the Archive is a research, archival, and publication project that investigates the museum’s past to better understand its role as a nexus for Black art in Harlem.

“The history of Black visual culture has for too long been uneven and underrepresented, due in part to a lack of primary materials,” said Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem. “Our Unearthing the Archive project, undertaken as the Studio Museum prepares to open its first purpose-built home in more than half a century of operation, will create change by mining a resource that exists nowhere else: our unparalleled abundance of documents and related holdings of Black artists working over the past 50 years. We are deeply grateful to the Terra Foundation for its generous support of this project, which advances a goal our two institutions share: the aim of introducing deeper research into American art history and expanding its canon.”

“The history of Black visual culture has for too long been uneven and underrepresented, due in part to a lack of primary materials. Our Unearthing the Archive project . . . will create change by mining a resource that exists nowhere else: our unparalleled abundance of documents and related holdings of Black artists working over the past 50 years.”

Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator, The Studio Museum in Harlem
A black-and-white photograph of a group of people dressed in business attire walking together between two buildings in New York City.

A group photo of (front L-R) Councilman Fred Samuel, Mayor Edward I. Koch, Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, C. Elaine Parker, Terrance Moan, (rear L-R) Charles A. Shorter, Jr., Commissioner Bess Myerson, Fred Price, circa 1979, courtesy of The Studio Museum in Harlem

Terra Foundation Collection

The Terra Foundation uses its art collection to foster intercultural dialogue and expand narratives of American art. The foundation makes its collection—more than 750 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, and sculptures by 242 artists working between the 1750s and the 1980s—available throughout the world through loans and exhibition projects. Through the Terra Collection-in-Residence initiative, artworks are loaned for extended periods to invited university and research museums within and outside the United States.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, Terra Foundation collection loans for Winslow Homer: Crosscurrents
“We are grateful to the Terra Foundation for supporting Winslow Homer: Crosscurrents in New York and London with a generous grant and key watercolor loan. The critically acclaimed effort explored the canonical painter’s work through the resonant and timely lens of conflict, a theme that crosses his prolific career. It foregrounded Homer’s imagery of the Atlantic World—particularly, its grounding in issues of race, enslavement, and imperialism as well as the fragility of human life—in dialogue with major examples of his wider production. In the process, this critical framework challenged and complicated the popular conception of the artist as the quintessential ‘Yankee’ realist who painted mostly Northeastern subjects. The approach also underlined the resonance of his artistic practice to contemporary audiences. The Terra’s dazzling watercolor, A Garden in Nassau, typifies Homer’s approach to depicting the tropical environment as he alludes to difficult histories and social concerns with aesthetic brilliance,” said Stephanie Herdrich, Associate Curator of American Painting and Sculpture, and Sylvia Yount, Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge of the American Wing, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A photograph of a gallery installation featuring seven works of art in gold frames.

Winslow Homer: Crosscurrents, April 11—July 31, 2022, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology / Terra Foundation for American Art, Oxford, UK, Terra Collection-in-Residence, $100,000
The world’s oldest university museum, opened in 1683, the Ashmolean at the University of Oxford, UK, uses the Terra Foundation artworks on loan to develop classes for undergraduate and graduate students, provide training and career-development opportunities for faculty and early-career researchers, and prompt new interpretations for permanent collection works. One painting and 37 prints are on loan for a period of four years (September 2022–September 2026).

“At the Ashmolean Museum in the University of Oxford, the Terra Collection-in-Residence has begun opening doors to exciting new teaching and new research. In a workshop, images by Mary Cassatt, Bertha Lum, and Arthur Dow were brought into dialogue with nineteenth-century Japanese prints, asking questions about the translation not only of language but also of images and ideas,” said Dr. Jim Harris, Teaching Curator, Ashmolean Museum Research Fellow, Somerville College, University of Oxford. “This year’s Terra Visiting Professor, Christopher Reed, is using the collection to help masters’ students consider the impact of Japanese print on early twentieth-century U.S. printmakers. Planning is underway for a day-conference this summer, bringing together early-career researchers from English literature, philosophy, history, and other disciplines to examine questions raised by the prints and their artists. And later this term, the museum will host two micro-internships for undergraduates who will work with the Terra Foundation prints to start researching and constructing a new, online resource for teaching modern American history at high school level.” Learn more about Terra Collection-in-Residence.

A group of people looking at two prints set upon small easels atop a long table.

Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology, Oxford, UK, workshop with the University’s Translator-in-Residence Polly Barton, Curator of Japanese Art Clare Pollard, and Teaching Curator Jim Harris, who brought images by Mary Cassatt, Bertha Lum, and Arthur Dow into dialogue with nineteenth-century Japanese prints, 2023.

Georgia Art Museum / Terra Foundation for American Art, Athens, GA, Terra Collection-in-Residence, $100,000
The Georgia Museum of Art located at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, opened in 1948, and holds collections of American art, European art, and decorative arts and works on paper for instruction and exhibition. The Terra Foundation loans are intended to fill gaps in the museum’s collection of American art and culture and activate individual artworks in the permanent collection. Five paintings are on loan for a period of four years (June 2022–June 2026).

“The Terra Collection-in-Residence program fills crucial gaps within our permanent collection galleries and amplifies the existing narratives we tell about the history of American art. [The Terra Foundation’s] John Singleton Copley portrait has fostered new, richer conversations between northern and southern colonial portraiture, which are traditionally segregated in the study of early American painting. Now, hanging alongside the southern portraitists Henry Benbridge and Jeremiah Theus, Copley’s painting helps us explore issues like transatlantic female identity and self-fashioning, including through a new partnership with the fashion history program at the University of Georgia,” said Jeffrey Richmond-Moll, Curator of American Art, Georgia Museum of Art. Learn more about Terra Collection-in-Residence. Learn more about Terra Collection-in-Residence.

“The Terra Collection-in-Residence program fills crucial gaps within our permanent collection galleries and amplifies the existing narratives we tell about the history of American art.”

Jeffrey Richmond-Moll, Curator of American Art, Georgia Museum of Art
Four portrait paintings in gold frames hanging on a gallery wall.

The Terra Foundation for American Art’s Portrait of a Lady in a Blue Dress by John Singleton Copley in We the People: Portraiture and Identity, a new section of the permanent collection galleries at the Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia. Photograph by Alvaro Santistevan.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, long-term Terra Foundation collection loans
Since 2005, a rotating selection of works from the Terra Foundation collection has been on view at the Art Institute of Chicago. This partnership allows local, national, and international audiences to view objects from the collection and helps the Art Institute deepen and expand narratives of American art, inviting new interpretations throughout its Arts of the Americas galleries.

“With key loans from the Terra Foundation’s collection of paintings, our presentation of the arts of the Americas is truly enriched, broadening the representation of makers in our galleries while also playing to strengths. In the Art Institute’s recent [2022] reinstallation of American modernism, for instance, Marsden Hartley’s Painting No. 50 makes for an impactful sight line, participating in a dialogue about multiple modernisms in the early twentieth century—from Hartley in Berlin and Frank Lloyd Wright in the Midwest to Maria Martinez and Georgia O’Keeffe in the Southwest and Isamu Noguchi in Chicago, alongside many others,” said Annelise K. Madsen, Gilda and Henry Buchbinder Associate Curator
Arts of the Americas, The Art Institute of Chicago.

A photograph of a museum gallery featuring eight paintings of various sizes, a display case of ceramic vessels, and a desk.

Arts of the Americas collection installed in Gallery 265, The Paul and Gabriella Rosenbaum Gallery, The Art Institute of Chicago

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