Romare Bearden’s Li’l Dan The Drummer Boy: Literary Perspectives

When April 16, 2018, 5:00 PM
Where Atkins Library Halton Reading Room, Main UNC Charlotte Campus
Speaker(s) Mark West and Janaka Lewis
Registration Details & Deadlines
Cost $0.00
Who is Invited General Public
Parking Details Visitor parking is available in the Cone parking deck for a minimal fee.

Join UNC Charlotte's English Department's Chair/Professor Mark West and Associate Professor Janaka Lewis for a presentation on the literary aspects of Romare Bearden's Li'l Dan The Drummer Boy book and related exhibit currently on display in J. Murrey Atkins Library’s first-floor exhibit space.

The presentation by West and Lewis will be Monday, April 16, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM in the Halton Reading Room in Atkins Library.

The library is presenting Li’l Dan the Drummer Boy, an exhibition of original watercolor and marker drawings from the only children’s book ever written and illustrated by legendary American artist and Charlotte native, Romare Bearden (1911–1988). Bearden's book is the story of Dan, a slave on a Southern plantation who loves to play his drum. When a company of Union soldiers announces that the slaves have been set free, Dan has no place to go, so he follows the soldiers who make him their mascot. When Confederate soldiers attack, Dan discovers that he is the only one who can save his friends.

Completed in 1983 and published posthumously, the book contains a personal introduction by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. describing his own memories of the artist. The Li’l Dan the Drummer Boy exhibit consists of 23 framed illustrations with accompanying text panels. It will be on display on Atkins Library’s first-floor exhibit space until May 5. The exhibit is made possible by Jerald Melberg Gallery.

Romare Bearden was born in Charlotte in 1911. Although he spent the majority of his young adult life in Pittsburgh, PA and later moved to New York City, he made frequent visual references to his North Carolina roots when his artistic career blossomed during New York City's Harlem Renaissance in the mid-20th century. During this period, he developed his famed collage methodology which remains his strongest legacy. The richness of his work can be attributed to his acknowledgement of a diverse array of influences that include old master religious works, modernist paintings, African ritual objects, Byzantine mosaics, Japanese prints, Chinese paintings, and the harmonies and rhythms of jazz and the blues.

Throughout his life, Bearden depicted many rituals and social customs of 20th Century rural Black America. The images of spiritual ceremonies, baptisms and burials, industrial factory life, musical arrangements and daily life recalled from his childhood in North Carolina ste the themes that critics and collectors most frequently associate with his work. Bearden's collages and prints are beautiful to behold and fantastic to contemplate.

Though Bearden is best known for his collages, he also is acknowledged for his works in watercolor. These watercolors were largely created during the winters Bearden spent with his wife, Nanette, in her native St. Maarten. They reflect the tropical vegetation and vistas of the region. Additionally, he produced editions of prints based on many of his collages.

Bearden received numerous awards and honors during his lifetime including the National Medal of Arts in 1987, the State Medal of North Carolina for Art in 1976, and the Frederick Douglas Medal of the New York Urban League in 1978.

Bearden's most comprehensive retrospective to date premiered in 2003 at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Past traveling retrospectives have been organized by the Museum of Modern Art (1970), the Mint Museum of Art (1980), the Detroit Institute (1986), the Studio Museum in Harlem (1991), and the Council for Creative Projects (1992).

Bearden’s works are now housed in the permanent collections of major American museums, including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Brooklyn Museum, The High Museum of Art, The Hirshhorn Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Mint Museum, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Studio Museum of Harlem, and The Whitney Museum of American Art.


Skip to toolbar