A collage of artist Steve R. Allen's Olympics work created over the years as "official" artwork for the games. Allen has served as an official artist for eight Olympic games. (Photo and Copyright held by Steve Allen)

In a move to demand equity in the business of Art for Black people, renowned international Artist Steve R. Allen is gifting select HBCU’s coveted pieces of Art featured in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture as part of a multimillion-dollar gifting initiative.

Born in a one-room shack in North Carolina and without any formal art training, Mr. Allen’s artworks have been acquired by private collectors around the world. The self-taught artist served as the official artist for eight Olympic Games. Five of Mr. Allen’s artworks hang in the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture Founding and Permanent Collection in Washington, D.C. His extensive body of work has taken him all over the world and stimulated international dialogue about the significance of art on social justice.

Throughout his career, Mr. Allen has noted the lack of representation on the business side of art as it relates to high end auction houses and mind-boggling private banking transactions that value artworks as tradable assets. His HBCU gifting initiative serves as social commentary on the financial value of Black art in American culture and is a demand for equity amongst Black people in the business of art.

“This gift, along with those that follow, aligns with my mission to expose the variety of visual contributions of African American artists to students, scholars and collectors and, moreover, to demand equity for my brothers and sisters in the business of art. My intention is to strengthen the position of Black institutions as innovative places for teaching art and revealing its power and financial value,” says Allen. “I cannot think of a better way to honor my mother, Rev. Dr. Rebecca Bowden Allen Johnson, an alumna of Shaw University, and brother Arthur Lee Allen’s, legacies than by providing Black and other audiences around the country with access to these artworks.”

The Atlanta University Center in Atlanta, Georgia (which includes Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, ITC Interdenominational Theological Center), Florida A&M (Tallahassee, FL), and Stillman College (Tuscaloosa, AL), are the initial recipients of the coveted Art and will host formal receptions in 2022 to mark the occasion.

Mr. Allen’s papers were acquired by Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library alongside other luminaries including Langston Hughes, Alice Walker and Josephine Baker.

For more information about Mr. Allen’s charitable giving and programming, please visit the Steve R. Allen Foundation.

This article was curated by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

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