Catherine C. Blackwell
Catherine C. Blackwell, Educator
Oil on canvas, 16" x 20", Collection of the Artist, Version No. 2, painted in 2015
Catherine C. Blackwell was an educator who was held in very high esteem and regard, especially in Detroit. The Catherine C. Blackell Institute of International Studies, Commerce and Technology (in Detroit) is her namesake. Her awards and honors are too numerous to list here. In addition to her reputation as an educator she was known for the collection of African art that she personally assembled during her travels to Africa over a period of some 40 years. Catherine C. Blackell was not just a traveler, she was a sort of explorer. She traveled so much and is so well known abroad that she was considered an informal ambassador to Africa. Catherine C. Blackell began her travels to Africa and her art collection in 1960. The Collection was only just beginning when she was made principal of Bagley Elementary School in the mid 60's where she used the art as an educational tool. The Collection is the tangible result of her own life journey to explore new ways to expand the minds of "her kids". It was her idea and she did it on her own dime long before it was fashionable for African Americans to collect art of that type. I was one of the impressionable little ne'er-do-wells in attendance at Bagley when Catherine C. Blackwell presided over it. Now the Catherine C. Blackwell Collection is maintained by museum professionals and exhibited at Universities. After a space of 33 years I met Catherine C. Blackwell at her home to prepare to start a much larger and more ambitious painting than shown above. Preparations included painting a 16 x 20 inch "study" of her face. The larger painting was not completed but I repainted the "study" in 2015 several years after she died and posted it above.

"Ms. Blackwell" is gone and still she lives. New generations carry the torch. And like her, "We shall not cease from exploration".
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