Akron Art Museum presents RETOLD: African American Art and Folklore

Akron, OH: RETOLD: African American Art and Folklore will open at the Akron Art Museum in the Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries on Saturday, November 4. The exhibition was curated by guest curator Dr. Tameka Ellington featuring artworks from the Cochran Collection of African American works on paper. Dr. Ellington organized the show by connecting the art with stories and experiences from traditional African folklore.  

“Wes and Missy Cochran have demonstrated fantastic insight and commitment in assembling a collection of hundreds of works by some of America’s most talented Black artists,” said Akron Art Museum Senior Curator Dr. Jeff Katzin. “It is our privilege to draw an exhibition from their collection, and our responsibility to form a meaningful story from the works they have lent us. I am very pleased that Dr. Tameka Ellington has come on board to do just that. RETOLD is the result of her strong creative vision.” 

RETOLD is divided into four subsections: remembering, religion, racialization, and resistance. The show focuses on remembering the ancestors and traditions of African culture, the religions that originated in that culture, the history of racialization and its prevalence today, and the continuing resistance that commenced at the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade and carries on today.  

Forty artists represented in the show all hold one similar truth: their story of joy and struggle in the African American experience.  

“For nearly 20 years of scholarship, I have been on a mission to educate the world about the beauty and humanness in African and African American culture, art, and fashion,” explained Dr.  Ellington. “With RETOLD the glorious journey continues.”  

Visitors are invited to feel a warmth and closeness to Africa by seeing the different elements of African culture.  

“The Museum is committed to introducing unique art experiences to diverse audiences. RETOLD showcases an impressive range of African-American artistry,” said Jon Fiume, John S. Knight Director and CEO of the Akron Art Museum. 

“For Missy and me, the most rewarding part of collecting is being able to share the collection, so we appreciate the Akron Art Museum taking on this project,” shared Wesley Cochran, owner of the Cochran Collection.  

For media inquiries and image requests, please email Matthew Hribar at mhribar@akronartmuseum.org 

For more information about the Akron Art Museum, visit akronartmuseum.org. Join the conversation on social media using #AkronArtMuseum and follow the Museum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. 

RETOLD: African American Art & Folklore is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, The Lehner Family Foundation, Mary and Dr. George L. Demetros Charitable Trust, the John P. Murphy Foundation, and the Kenneth L. Calhoun Charitable Trust.