Skip to Content Skip to Home

Gantt Center Celebrates Women's History Month with Art and Programming By and About Women

From private collections to children’s films the impact of women in the arts is evident this season

2018 has been dubbed “The Year of the Woman,” and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture has plenty of #blackgirlmagic on its calendar during National Women’s History Month. A robust slate of woman-themed exhibitions featuring the art collections of Dr. Dianne Whitfield-Locke and Judy Diamond, a vibrant mixed-media exhibition by artist Lillian Blades, a children’s film festival featuring films developed by former television actress Karyn Parsons, and workshops on collecting and arts management led by renowned art expert Dr. Halima Taha provide visitors with myriad representations of the arts.

“We are pleased to have such a rich demonstration of the impact of women in the arts this season,” says Gantt Center President & CEO David Taylor. “Creating avenues for female artists and collectors of color to present their work is an important part of our work.”

The Gantt Center is currently exhibiting the private collections of two African-American female collectors – Dr. Dianne Whitfield Locke of Washington, D.C. and Judy Diamond of Charlotte. Dr. Whitfield-Locke, who along with her husband, Dr. Carnell Locke, has amassed over 1700 works by master and contemporary African-American artists. The exhibition, titled By and About Women: The Collection of Dr. Dianne Whitfield-Locke and Dr. Carnell Locke, highlights selected works from their extensive collection which were either created by female artists or feature women as the subject. Masterpieces by pioneering women including Betye Saar, Camille Billops, Samella Lewis, Elizabeth Catlett, Emma Amos, Lois Mailou Jones, Faith Ringgold, and Augusta Savage headline the exhibition. The Lockes have also gathered work by E. J. Montgomery, Howardena Pindell, and Jacob Lawrence’s wife, Gwendolyn Knight. Additionally, works by multi-media artists such as Robin Holder, Clarissa Sligh, Margo Humphrey and Alison Saar also appear in the exhibition. A committed supporter of African-American artists and arts institutions, Dr. Whitfield-Locke is passionate about collecting and has served on the board of the International Review of African American Art, the most significant publication in the field -- now based at Hampton University – and has been a major supporter of the James Porter Colloquium at Howard University and the David Driskell Center at the University of Maryland.

Judy Diamond and her husband Patrick, also avid art collectors, focus on the themes of family, religion and love in their exhibition titled A Creative Journey: The Judy and Patrick Diamond Collection. Among the master artists featured are Romare Bearden, Margaret Burroughs, Jacob Lawrence, Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett, Richard Hunt, Hale Woodruff, Sam Gilliam, and Henry O. Tanner, as well as younger artists like Radcliffe Bailey and Cedric Smith. The Diamonds began collecting out of a desire to learn more about the many significant contributions made to American culture by artists of African-American descent and to provide their son with an introduction to the importance and richness of their African-American heritage. The quality of their collection has allowed them to gift works to the Art Institute of Chicago Museum as well as Charlotte’s own Mint Museum of Art.

Bahamian-born artist Lillian Blades uses picture frames, buttons, flowers, wood blocks, mirrors and other objects to represent both her past and present in her exhibition titled Lillian Blades: Mirrors of Life. Every angle of Blades' works encompasses discovery – physically, emotionally and mentally. Her images pay homage to her ancestral background and West African and African-American traditions while being both mesmerizing and reflective. Blades, who resides in Atlanta, was the 2016 Visual Artist awardee for The National Black Arts Festival and a recipient of an Award of Excellence in Visual Arts by The Bahamas Consulate in 2016.

All three collections will be available for public viewing through July 29, 2018.

On March 24, the Gantt Center will host its first Children’s Film Festival as part of its Family First series presented by Novant Health. The festival, led by former The Fresh Prince of Bel Air actress-turned-education advocate Karyn Parsons, begins at 1:00 p.m. and features short, animated films that highlight the courageous stories of African-American trailblazers who overcame insurmountable odds. The featured films bring to life the legacies of Virginia slave Henry “Box” Brown, who mailed himself to freedom in Philadelphia; America’s first prima ballerina Janet Collins; and traffic light inventor Garrett Morgan. Each feature is narrated by acclaimed actors including Queen Latifah, Chris Rock and Alfre Woodard. Parsons will share insights and answer questions after each film. She will also host workshops at Renaissance West STEAM Academy on Friday, March 23 to discuss her films with students there.

Rounding out the month is noted authority on art collecting and arts management, Dr. Halima Taha, who will lead two sessions on Saturday, March 31, 2018. At 1:00 p.m., Dr. Taha will host an interactive workshop, Art School + The Art World: Filling the Gap, for arts students and emerging artists, teaching best practices for a successful career as a visual artist. At 5:00 p.m., Taha will guide art collectors and art enthusiasts during Collecting and Protecting African-American Art with Dr. Halima Taha, a discussion about all facets of collecting, protecting, buying and selling art, including how to protect yourself from forgeries and price gougers. Details on each program can be found at


The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture is a multi-disciplinary arts institution located in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina. Founded in 1974, the Gantt Center’s mission is to present, preserve and celebrate excellence in the art, history and culture of African-Americans and those of African descent through visual and literary arts, dance, music, film, educational programs, theatre productions and community outreach. The Gantt Center features fine art exhibitions from around the world and is home to the nationally celebrated John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art, which was generously donated by Bank of America, and is accessible online.

Named for Charlotte civic leader and former mayor Harvey Bernard Gantt, the Gantt Center is housed in an inspired and distinguished award-winning structure designed by architect Philip Freelon, co-designer of the new Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Posted on Thursday, March 08, 2018

Return to list

Get the latest from the Gantt & subscribe to our mailing list.

Your support helps the Gantt present exceptional exhibitions, leading scholars and engaging programs that celebrate the African-American story.

Back to top