Bearden 100

#47 Untitled (The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah) - 1965-66
By Romare Bearden

Selected by Joyce Owens

Untitled (The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah) - 1965-66

Bearden’s narrative work, “Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah”, is a sketchily literal interpretation of the Biblical event described in Genesis; his collage is applied systematically in a patchwork pattern. I was interested in the interplay of his ideas and materials producing layered content and meaning. He used a subtle palette and a spare design. Also interesting is the possible rationale for this work. I wonder if he felt some correlation between the burning of the Biblical cities and his present, at that time during the Civil Rights violence against African Americans. Did he think America was a modern Sodom and Gomorrah?

Joyce Owens

visual artist, curator, professor
Chicago, Il

Life Support - acrylic and collage on canvas, 2010

I address on-going destruction in my work “Life Support” that addresses man-made
losses. I worry about how we treat our planet and our people. Collaged elements that include fabric and found papers on canvas extend into space as low relief sculpture in my organic and flowing acrylics work. A superb colorist, Bearden is subtle in “Sodom and Gomorrah”; the event of mass death is powerful in itself. He uses a monochromatic blue and white color scheme with contrasting reds and yellows added sparingly. “Life Support” employs all the colors of nature. Bearden’s moon, sun or planet, like my own in the piece, reminds us that on earth we are part of a larger universe.

Owens is a graduate of Howard University's B.F.A. program and earned an M.F.A.
from Yale University in painting. Owens is the curator of the galleries at Chicago State University and teaches drawing and painting.

Owens has exhibited her work on four continents: North America, Europe, South
America and Africa. A partial list of her invitational exhibitions include: The Wright
Museum in Detroit, the Swedish Embassy in Stockholm, NATO Headquarters in
Brussels, the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art,
The DuSable Museum of African American History, the Koehnline Museum, The Irish Heritage Center, The Museum of Science and Industry Black Creativity, and Columbia College’s Book and Paper Center. She has been selected for juried exhibitions at the Madd Art Gallery in St. Louis, Missouri; Butridge Gallery, Austin, Texas and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pennsylvania. Her art has been represented at the National Black Fine Arts show in New York by ArtJaz Gallery, Philadelphia, Parish Gallery, D.C. and Nicole Gallery, Chicago. Owens exhibited at The Spertus Museum, South Shore Arts, Indiana; The University of Alabama, Connecticut College (curated by Barkley Hendricks) and Woman Made Gallery, Chicago in group exhibitions where she also won two solo exhibitions. Owens exhibited in a two-person exhibition at the Museum of Greater Lafayette in Indiana in 2011 and numerous galleries including Gallery Guichard, Nicole Gallery, the South Side community Art Center, Jackson Junge Gallery, in Chicago and Just Lookin’ Gallery in Maryland.