Featuring nearly 100 artworks, the exhibition is the first retrospective of celebrated Maryland artist Oletha DeVane, and traces the artist’s extensive career, from her early paintings and works on paper to video artworks and interactive sculpture, including works on view for the first time.
A prolific artist, wayfinder and storyteller, DeVane has spent decades learning and making art about the most profound phenomena of our human condition: spirituality, mythology, and transformative experience, including experiences of hardship. Over the last five decades, as she traveled in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, she became inspired by the stories and characters she encountered. Her artwork brings the unexpected to light, while finding new nuances in the old and familiar, and surprising intersections among those cultures.
A highlight of the exhibition is a large-scale carved sculpture, Nkisi Woman-Universal Nkisi (2021–22), which will be activated over the course of the exhibition by visitors who are invited to add beads to its surface. The nkisi is a Kongo cultural figure invested with sacred energy, and this sculpture will catalyze communion and community-building. The work reflects DeVane’s fascination with how materials convey meaning and reemerge as myths and memories.
The exhibition also celebrates Oletha DeVane’s collaborative activities. Her long-standing collaboration with writer and media personality Tadia Rice, Beyond Bars: Prison Women Speak, will be updated for the exhibition in the form of new video works.
Oletha DeVane: Spectrum of Light and Spirit is organized by curator Lowery Stokes Sims.
Admission is free. The CADVC is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Please note that masks must be worn in the CADVC at all times. We appreciate your cooperation.
Parking is free during evening and weekend hours, and metered parking is available other times. Please visit here for directions and parking information.
Oletha DeVane: Spectrum of Light and Spirit will be accompanied by several public programs:
Thursday, September 22, 5 to 7 p.m. — Opening Reception
Tuesday, September 27, 5 to 7 p.m. — An “Art from Inside” panel discussion in association with the exhibition Prison Nation at UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
Thursday, October 6, 12 p.m., Saturday, October 8, 3 p.m., and Saturday, October 29, 3 p.m. — Periodic activations of Nkisi Woman-Universal Nkisi sculpture with guest facilitators
Thursday, October 13, 4 to 6:30 p.m. — A College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Colloquium Panel on Resilience will be followed by extended hours at the CADVC
Thursday, December 8, 6 to 7:30 p.m. — Closing panel discussion at the CADVC
About Oletha DeVane
For the last four decades, DeVane has been a prominent presence in the Baltimore area art scene as an arts administrator, curator and educator in the arts. She began her undergraduate studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1968, where she studied with poet/artists David Franks and Joe Cardarelli, who in her words “fed” her “curiosity about poetry and language as they relate to visual art.” In 1973 DeVane went to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst to pursue her graduate degree, where her advisor was painter Nelson Stevens, a key figure in the AfriCobra group. She also took advantage of a course on Black Women and African Studies, offered by Johnnetta Cole and Esther Terry, which provided her with “a wealth of knowledge and challenge in thinking about the role of women and claiming self-determination.”
Image: Oletha DeVane, Garden of the Heart, 2021, mixed media, 47 x 36 inches. Photo by Mitro Hood.Learn More