Anna Russell Jones: The Art of Design was originally scheduled to open in early March 2020, marking anniversaries of both the 15th and 19th Amendments, as well as Women’s History Month.
Instead, we watched helplessly as the COVID-19 pandemic devastated our communities and the world–forcing the Museum to close its doors for over a year. As we continue to mourn those we lost, we dedicate our reopening and this exhibition to our AAMP family and community who have supported us through this difficult year.
It is one of our greatest pleasures to showcase objects from our permanent collection, but this exhibition is exceptional because it highlights a rarely known and highly accomplished early 20th century designer, Anna Russell Jones. ARJ was widely known to her contemporaries in the field, as she worked creating wallpaper and carpet designs, and as an educator, illustrator, and freelance artist—with her own design studio—a staggering accomplishment for a Black woman in the early 1900s.
AAMP would like to sincerely thank our guest curator Huewayne Watson, artist and lecturer of African and African American Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, for bringing this exhibition to fruition. Huewayne’s passion and interest in the life and work of Anna Russell Jones (which began when he was an IMLS Fellow here at the Museum) is evident in this important exhibition.
Special thanks to the AAMP Board of Directors and the entire AAMP staff; sincere thanks to AAMP’s ever-ready Exhibitions Manager and Artist-in-Residence Richard J. Watson; and a warm welcome and thanks to Alexandria Bingham, AAMP’s Curatorial Assistant. Sincere thanks to our army of top-notch preparators, and to designer Michele Cooper and Cooper Graphic Design, who helped us create the beautiful didactics for the exhibition. In addition, we liked to extend a thank you to our photographer and videographer Daniel Jackson, of Embassy: Interactive, for his beautiful work. As always, we are grateful for the support of our members, donors and friends; to PECO for their ongoing support, and the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation for their support of this exhibition.
The acquisition of the Anna Russell Jones collection was championed by Nannette Acker Clark, former Executive Director of the Museum in the early 1990s. It was her foresight that led the Museum to acquire this wonderful and important work for our permanent collection. Along with hundreds of rug, wallpaper and medical designs, the collection also contains materials such as correspondences, photographs, scrapbooks, personnel records, objects, and printed materials. We are so pleased to have these materials here at AAMP to share with future generations of artists, scholars and AAMP visitors.