5 - 9 p.m. May 16, 2014


Come celebrate the opening of Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College! Stephanie Heydt, the Margaret and Terry Stent Curator of American Art at the High Museum of Art and Philip Verre, COO of the High Museum will discuss the restoration, preservation, and exhibition of the murals.

  • 5 – 8 p.m.: Art on the Spot
  • 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.: Music by OperaCréole
  • 6 p.m.: Discussion with Stephanie Heydt and Phillip Verre, Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College

About Rising Up

In 1938 Atlanta-based artist Hale Woodruff was commissioned to paint a series of murals for Talladega College, Alabama, one of the first colleges established for blacks in the United States. Installed in the institution’s newly constructed Savery Library, the six murals portray noteworthy events in the rise of blacks from slavery to freedom. Though he painted the murals for a local audience of students and faculty, Woodruff intended their impact to reach beyond Talladega’s campus. They attracted national attention.

In 2011 a team of conservators and art handlers removed Woodruff’s six murals from the walls of the library. The crew assembled scaffolding to reach the murals, which were installed at nine feet high on facing sides of the library’s entrance hall. Originally painted on canvas by Woodruff in his Spelman College studio in Atlanta, the murals were gently pried from the walls to which they had been directly affixed. Areas of flaking were stabilized before transit with tissue applied using easily soluble materials.

The conservation process addressed the effects of aging on the works. The Talladega murals have been left undisturbed in the lobby of Savery Library for more than seventy years-and with good fortune. Without direct exposure to the harmful effects of sunlight, the vibrant colors of Woodruff’s original palette have remained intact. Nevertheless, a good cleaning and the addition of a support or backing have ensured that the murals will be enjoyed by future generations of Talladegans.

Today the murals remain symbols of the centuries-long struggle for civil rights. This project, a collaboration between the High Museum of Art and Talladega College, conserves these works and presents them to a national audience for the first time.

About OperaCréole

Opera and classical music in New Orleans and around the world have always included the contributions of persons of color. Since the 19th Century, Creoles of New Orleans have made contributions to the music and culture of New Orleans. It is their participation in opera, as well as the music of Africa, Spain, and Haiti that contributed to the birth of jazz. We are dedicated to researching and performing lost or rarely performed music, and sharing with the community the contributions of our people to this musical art form, not only in New Orleans, but around the world. Current OperaCréole singers: Crystal Morris, Valerie Jones Francis, Eldric Bashful, Ebonee Davis Tyrone Chambers, Aria Mason, Brandon Richardson, founder Givonna Joseph, and Ivan Griffin. Not pictured is Prentiss Mouton, our newest member.

OperaCréole’s singers are professional artists, educators, and international soloists with roots in New Orleans, “America’s First City of Opera.” Members of the ensemble have recently been featured in solo roles in New Orleans Opera’s productions of Madame Butterfly, Samson et Dalila, Il Trovatore, Salome, and Porgy and Bess. They were recently Artists in Residence at Illinois State University. Many of us are also members of the AGMA-affiliated New Orleans Opera Chorus.

This event is related to the exhibition Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College.