The renowned, eight-time Olympic Atlanta-based artist Steve R. Allen is generating opportunities for the artistically inquisitive Black youth through a new and generous initiative, where Allen will gift his own multi-million dollar artwork to historically Black colleges and universities.
Allen, who has five artworks that have found their permanent home at the Smithsonian Museum of Art, has created new “museum editions” of these esteemed pieces for the gifting initiative. By placing African-American art in these schools, this will create room for necessary discussions about the art world and inspire young artists to follow their creative dreams. Along with the donations, Allen will also hold lectures about art as a business, and discuss how artists of color can bring visibility to their work in an environment that often rejects them.
“[The initiative] will give the young people – and some of them not so young – an opportunity to see some of this work up close and personal,” Allen said in conversation with Lois Reitzes of WABE. “Also, I live not far from the AIDS center, and we have discussed my doing some symposiums and some conferences, and possibly some in-person classes with the young people so that they can see that in the art field, that it’s possible to go from being born in a one-room shack, which I was, to having your work in the greatest museum in the world, the Smithsonian.”
In 2008, Allen established the Steve R. Allen Foundation, which operates art programs globally and primarily focuses on bringing art to young aspiring artists. Based in Atlanta, Allen’s goal is to help expose the youth to the vast world of visual arts and bring opportunities for one-on-one mentorship.
“There are very few opportunities to interact with an actual living and working artist,” said Allen. “For them to be able to see someone like myself because I was one of those little children at one time, it’s very important to me. Hopefully, it inspires them.” Learn more about the Steve R. Allen foundation and how you can help support young artists throughout the world by visiting www.steverallenfoundation.org.