Black History Month is a powerful occasion to recognize, learn from, and reflect on Black stories, histories, and legacies in America. Join us in taking this time to celebrate and highlight Black artists and some of the books that we have had the privilege to publish on these artists.
In 1998, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art organized Beverly McIver’s first solo exhibition in the Southwest United States, presenting the emerging artist to a new audience in Scottsdale. McIver’s reputation as an artist was confined largely to her home state of North Carolina until she moved to Arizona to teach at Arizona State University.
Since then, McIver has become a respected and recognizable artist within the national art scene. She has accumulated more awards and honors than many artists receive in a lifetime, which she pays forward by teaching younger generations about the power of art and the hard work it takes to make it a career. There are numerous artists today who credit McIver for their professional achievements.
McIver grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, as one of three daughters—including her sister, Renee, who has developmental disabilities—of a single mother who worked multiple domestic jobs to make ends meet. The artist’s paintings are reminders to herself and her audience of the journey she endured in order to understand the many aspects that collectively shape her identity. The images are also powerful statements about larger issues that affect and challenge everyone, including stereotypes, self-acceptance, family, otherness, illness, death, and, ultimately, freedom to express one’s individuality.
McIver’s work can be found in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Nelson Fine Arts Center Art Museum at Arizona State University, and the Mint Museum, to name a few. McIver is the Ebenshade Professor of the Practice in Studio Arts at Duke University, and prior to this appointment, taught at Arizona State University for 12 years. Recent honors include a yearlong residency at the American Academy in Rome, where she was featured in Beverly McIver e il colore nero, a documentary for Italian television. In 2017, she received the lifetime achievement award from the Anyone Can Fly Foundation in a ceremony hosted by Faith Ringgold. McIver was named one of the “Top Ten in Painting” in Art in America in 2011. Raising Renee—a feature-length documentary film produced in association with HBO by Academy Award-nominated and award-winning filmmakers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan—tells the story of McIver’s promise to care for Renee when their mother dies. The film played in festivals around the country, was nominated for an Emmy® for Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming, and is now available on Amazon Prime.
We are honored to be co-publishing the exhibition catalog for Beverly McIver: Full Circle, organized by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) and guest curator — and director of Scottsdale Public Art — Kim Boganey. It was during Beverly McIver’s first solo exhibition at SMoCA in 1988 that the artist and curator first met, and began a professional relationship and personal friendship based on their joint pursuit, as women of color, of nontraditional careers in the arts.
The exhibition is open February 12th, 2022 – September 4th 2022, and presents more than 50 works that demonstrate the diversity of Beverly McIver’s thematic approach to painting over 25 years.
From early self-portraits in clown makeup to more recent works featuring her father, dolls, Beverly’s experiences during COVID-19 and portraits of others, Full Circle illuminates the arc of Beverly McIver’s artistic career while also touching on her personal journey. McIver’s self-portraits explore expressions of individuality, stereotypes, and ways of masking identity; portraits of family provide glimpses into intimate moments, in good times as well as in illness and death.
The show includes McIver’s portraits of other artists and notable figures, recent work resulting from a year in Rome with American Academy’s Rome Prize, and new work in which McIver explores the juxtaposition of color, patterns, and the human figure. Full Circle also features works that reflect on McIver’s collaborations with other artists, as well as her impact on the next generation of artists. The complementary exhibition, In Good Company, includes artists who have mentored McIver, such as Faith Ringgold and Richard Mayhew, as well as those who have studied under her.
This stunning exhibition catalog includes a conversation with Beverly McIver by exhibition curator Kim Boganey, as well as two essays: one by leading Black feminist writer Michele Wallace, daughter of Beverly’s graduate school mentor Faith Ringgold, and another by distinguished scholar of African American art history Richard Powell.