11/19/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/19/2021 12:55
American Express announces $1 million sponsorship to museum and its work to highlight artists of African descent
American Express hosted artists Julie Mehretu and Kehinde Wiley at an intimate event for Platinum Card Members on November 17 at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York that gave the world-renowned artists a platform to talk about their passion for the special community that surrounds The Studio Museum in Harlem.
Wiley and Mehretu shared the stage with Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator at the Studio Museum, and Rafael Mason, Senior Vice President, U.S. Premium Products and Loyalty Programs at American Express. To kick off their panel discussion, Mason announced that American Express would be contributing $1 million to the Studio Museum to support its work as the nexus for artists of African descent, locally, nationally and internationally. Mehretu and Wiley had both participated in the Studio Museum's prestigious Artists-in-Residence program in the early 2000s.
Wiley is considered a visionary portrait painter, counting President Barack Obama as one of his subjects, and he uses distinct, vibrant botanical backgrounds. Mehretu is a celebrated contemporary artist, known for her multi-layered, large-scale abstracts.
Artists like herself do what they do because they are trying to invent something, connect it to other parts of culture, drive a new conversation and create opportunities for others, she said. Museums that support artists - especially emerging artists - and communities - create places "where new futures are possible," said Mehretu.
Wiley said he has been a part of the Harlem art world for 20 years and he has realized that influence reaches so much farther than its 125th Street address in Manhattan. He gives credit to the Studio Museum and its approach: "You start to see this advance of a new embrace of the Black body in art, a new embrace of African artists from all over the world, not just the American story but an international story."
Golden spoke with pride in describing her alumni. "Both of these artists are innovators. They've taken on a form - painting - and reimagined it … Kehinde in invigoration and thinking about portraiture in profound ways; Julie through abstraction and imagining, and future, and thinking about what we can't see."
Both Mehretu and Wiley have created new American Express Platinum Card designs that will be revealed in Miami on December 1, 2021, and will be available to Card Members as a Card design option beginning in January 2022.