portrait of lorraine hansberry looking out of gold frame on red background
Vitus Shell, Lorraine Hansberry; Collection of Hattiloo Theatre

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Sweet 16 | Artful Presence: Portraits from the Hattiloo Theatre Collection

Apr 17, 2022 - Jul 10, 2022

Presented by: The Joe Orgill Family Fund for Exhibitions

Organized by: The Dixon Gallery and Gardens

This spring, come experience something new and exciting at the Dixon! Each of our sixteen gallery spaces will feature an independent, Dixon-organized exhibition. From whimsical Rococo German porcelain to contemporary American abstraction, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and be inspired by in Sweet Sixteen.

Artful Presence: Portraits from the Hattiloo Theatre Collection

This exhibition features a selection of portraits of renowned Black playwrights, actors, and other figures from the collection of Hattiloo Theatre in Memphis. Founded in 2006, Hattiloo is the only freestanding Black repertory theater in the Mid-South and one of only four such theaters in the country. In its fifteenth season, the theater has mounted more than fifty theatrical productions from The Wiz to Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Hattiloo's art collection began in 2008, when Ekundayo Bandele, Hattiloo Director and CEO, began commissioning Black artists in Memphis to create portraits of significant figures from the history of Black theater. The works christened the theater's new building at Overton Square, opened in 2014, and ties Hattiloo to a broader Black arts movement in Memphis. Championed by Bandele, the Hattiloo collection has consistently grown over the years, and is today the only collection of its kind in the United States. This exhibition marks the first time that these portraits have been on view outside of Hattiloo Theatre and celebrates the work of the playwrights and actors who have contributed to the rich history and vibrant contemporary presence of Black theater through the lens of some of the most consequential artists working in Memphis today.

Sponsored by: Opus East Memphis

Kate and Michael Buttarazzi, Karen and Preston Dorsett, Theodore W. and Betty J. Eckels Foundation, Andrea and Doug Edwards, Amanda and Nick Goetze, Anne and Mike Keeney, Nancy and Steve Morrow, Irene Orgill, Gwen and Penn Owen, Chris and Dan Richards, Irene and Fred Smith, and Adele Wellford