In West African language and culture, sankofa reminds one to remember and learn from the past. Sankofa, often symbolized with a bird looking backwards or a stylized heart, also means to bring forward the good from the past and use it in the present in order to progress. This grounds the Sankofa Society: Friends of African American and African Art.
The Sankofa Society: Friends of African American and African Art is a congenial group of people who appreciate, collect, and support African American and African art. Our purpose is three-fold: to support the Birmingham Museum of Art in acquisitions, to educate about art created by people of African descent, and to promote art of the Diaspora locally, regionally, and nationally. We fulfill our mission through membership dues, educational travel, seminars, lectures, and reaching out to other institutions and groups who are interested in African American and African art. Additionally, the Sankofa Society invites and welcomes artists to our city as a way to cultivate a meaningful and long-term relationship with the artist, the museum, and most importantly, Birmingham.
$250 per member
$100 per junior member (under 40)
Sankofa: Past. Present. Future. The 5th Annual Sankofa Society Soiree, Saturday, August 24
On August 24th, the Sankofa Society: Friends of African American and African Art held its 5th annual Sankofa Society Soirée, a festive evening of art, conversation, music, food, and dancing. Guest of honor, Chicago artist Kerry James Marshall, was celebrated for his achievement in the international art world, but also for his ongoing commitment to his hometown of Birmingham. Local artists, Dr. Art Bacon and Dr. William Colvin were also recognized by the Society. In addition to viewing Marshall’s painting, School of Beauty, School of Culture, guests toured the exhibition Collecting the African Diaspora – a collection of works purchased by the Sankofa Society for the Museum, and the newly opened, Civil-Rights-themed exhibition, Etched in Collective History.
- Invitations to Sankofa Society receptions, educational events, exhibition previews, and the annual Sankofa Society Soiree
- Travel with Society members and Museum curators to auctions, art fairs, galleries, and museums
- Curatorial consultations for members who collect or want to begin collecting
- Subscription to Museum Members' Newsletter, and invitations to Museum events and exhibition
- 10% discount in the Museum Store and Terrace Café
- Reduced rates for Museum art classes
- Free passes to blockbuster exhibitions
- Dues 90% tax deductable
- Invitations to private events with curators, collectors, artists, and art dealers
Mr. Mike Kemp, President
Dr. Art Bacon
Dr. William Colvin
Judge Ralph Cook
Mr. Jack Drake
Dr. Stacy Haynes
Ms. Gaynell Hendricks
Ms. Renee Kemp-Rotan
Mr. Jim Sokol
Mr. Henry Turner
updated January 2013
Sankofa: Past. Present. Future. The 5th Annual Sankofa Society Soiree
Saturday, August 24
Exhibition Preview: Collecting the African Diaspora
6pm //Thursday, June 6 // Bohorfoush Gallery
Dr. Jeffreen Hayes led a preview tour of the exhibition Collecting the African Diaspora. Dr. Hayes highlighted key works of art that the Sankofa Society acquired for the museum.
Artist Luncheon with Artist Theaster Gates
11:30am // April 26
VIP Reception with Odili Donald Odita
March 15, 2013, 5-6pm, at beta pictoris gallery
Sankofa met and greeted with artist Odili Donald Odita at local gallery beta pictoris. Odita had a exhibition of new works on paper.
Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum, Dr. Bridget Cooks,
March 14, 2013
Dr. Bridget Cooks, associate professor of art history and African American studies, gave a lecture on her groundbreaking book Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum. In Dr. Cooks's book, she discusses several African American exhibitions that challenged the status quo in American museums at the times they were presented. Following her lecture, Dr. Cook signed copies of her book.
Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN
January 12, 2o13
Sankofa traveled to Nashville, TN to see Carrie Mae Weems's retrospective at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.
The Armory Show, New York, NY
March 6-10, 2013
Sankofa members traveled to The Armory Show art fair. 2013 marked the 100th anniversary of the fair. This trip was be filled with private collection and studio visits as well as Armory Show related events.
Trip to Miami, FL for Art Basel Art Show
Curators Ron Platt and Jeffreen Hayes, as well as the Collectors Circle for Contemporary Art and the Sankofa Society, attended Art Basel in Miami Beach, the most prestigious art show in the Americas. More than 260 leading international galleries will showcase works by more than 2,000 contemporary artists. The trip was rounded out by visits to private collections, artists’ studios, galleries, and museums.
Sankofa Presents: Dr. Darryl Atwell
Dr. Darryl Atwell collects contemporary art with a special focus on emerging and mid-career artists. He has been collecting for over 10 years and is well-versed in art history and the art market. Dr. Atwell spoke about his collection and the various ways collectors can contribute to the arts.
VIP Reception with John Bankston
October 2012 at beta pictoris/Maus Contemporary
Sankofa Society members were invited to a private reception with artist John Bankston on the occasion of his exhibition opening at beta pictoris gallery/Maus Contemporary. Bankston’s exhibition, titled, is a suite of eight new works on paper. The artist met Sankofa Society members and discussed his work and artistic process.
Trip to (e)merge art fair, Washington, DC
The Sankofa Society traveled to Washington, DC to attend the (e)merge art fair. (e)merge provides a platform for emerging international artists and educational opportunities to learn about the artists and their work. This trip included VIP access to artists, major collectors, and institutions. We also visitedt two prominent art collections in the DC area, visited Library of Congress to learn about their Fine Art collection, and visited area museums.
Lunch and Learn
How do we feel when we see the Black female body and how it is represented in works of art? This Lunch and Learn was a critical converastion with Dr. Jeffreen Hayes on the image of the Black female body in the works included in the BMA exhibition Intimate Interiors.
Sankofa Society Soirée Weekend: August 2012
VIP Reception for Theaster Gates
The Soirée weekend began with a VIP Champagne Toast Reception for Theaster Gates. Sankofa members kicked off the weekend with an intimate evening with the honoree.
Soirée: Intimate Evening of Art
This year’s theme, Intimate Evening of Art, connected with the exhibition Intimate Interiors. The 2012 honoree was Chicago-based artist and urban planner Theaster Gates. Gates, an artist engaged with urban communities and their histories, creates art and art performances that speak to American identity and culture, more broadly, and the Black experience, more specifically in the United States.
Trip to Chicago, IL
The Sankofa Society spent a long weekend in Chicago, filled with visits to museum and artist studios.
Pinder Visits Birmingham
Chicago-based artist Jefferson Pinder made his first trip to Birmingham. During his visit, Pinder began research on a site-specific project planned for the Lyric Theatre. The project is part of the Museum’s year of commemorative events related to the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and the Civil Rights Movement.