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Maude Kerns Art Center Presents
African Roots:
A Charles H. Tatum Retrospective

Exhibit Dates
April 10 - May 15

Opening Reception:
Friday, April 10, 6 - 8pm

The Maude Kerns Art Center is proud to present a retrospective of the work of Oregon sculptor Charles H. Tatum, opening with a public reception on Friday, April 10, from 6 – 8 pm. Title Sponsors for “African Roots: A Charles H. Tatum Retrospective” are Nancy Pobanz and David Wade. The exhibit is on view through May 15.

Tatum (1937 – 2008) was the first African American sculptor to have work exhibited at the University of Oregon Museum of Art (now the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art), in 1991. The retrospective at the Maude Kerns Art Center brings a large body of Tatum’s work back to Eugene nearly 25 years later. The retrospective exhibit includes original wood sculptures, assemblages, and castings in bronze and crystal. Also featured are large “Environmental Photographs,” the product of a collaboration between Tatum and photographer David Czuba, showing Tatum’s sculptures set within the natural environment in sites along the Southern Oregon coast and in Northern Illinois. Reproductions of the photographs will be available for purchase, as well as reproductions of the original sculptures in bronze and crystal.

Tatum was born and grew up in rural Mississippi. He explored Caribbean and Philippine art and culture during his tours of duty in the navy, and began sculpting in wood and creating assemblages in Los Angeles and Compton, California during the late 1960s, There he was deeply influenced by a group of artists at the Watts Towers Art Center and the Compton Communicative Arts Academy who were exploring African motifs, sculpting techniques, and assemblage within the context of modern African American sculpture.

In the early 1970s Tatum relocated to Portland, Oregon, where he worked with other artists on the Albina Mural Project, depicting 600 years of black history. In his sculpture, Tatum worked directly with the forms he saw in the grain of the wood, creating figurative pieces that reflected his African roots and more abstract sculptures and assemblages that combined carving, salvaged metal, and found objects.

An Exhibit Talk by Patricia Soltys, Tatum’s longtime partner, takes place at the Art Center on Thursday, April 30, from 6:30 – 7:30 pm. Soltys will discuss West African art and how it relates to Tatum’s work. She also will reveal the stories behind the creation of certain sculptures.