Art + Soul Honors Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims

Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims

Mark your calendars for the best party of the year! Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) will host Art and Soul, the sixth anniversary celebration of the Fund for African American Art, on Saturday, February 9, featuring entertainment by Jillionaire and A. Randolph and The Smash Room Project. Art lovers can enjoy an evening of networking, artistic performances, cocktails, music, and dancing. Don’t have your tickets yet? There’s still time to purchase them here.

This year, PAMM has the privilege of honoring Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims, whose career in the arts spans decades from curator to director, and has been integral to the fund for African American art at PAMM.

Sims chatted with PAMM before the big night about what the fund for African American Art at PAMM means to her, her involvement, and more.

PAMM: It is PAMM’s commitment to reflect the diversity of our local community. These generous gifts provide the museum an opportunity to continue to build our collection in ways that support this mission. Through the museum’s exhibition program, this community has been exposed to some incredibly powerful and important African American artists. What does the PAMM Fund for African American Art mean to you?
Sims: The PAMM fund is a powerful indication of the museum’s recognition of the richness and variety of the American diasporic community in and around Miami and globally. The recognition that these artists have garnered over the last few decades not only justifies the museum’s investment in their work and commitment to the recognition of their talent and contribution to the history art.

Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims

As an early adviser to the PAMM Fund for African American Art, what was some of the advice/recommendations that you gave to the museum?
I recently had a conversation with Toni Randolph, who was one of the individuals who first met with Jorge Pérez when the idea of the fund supported by him and Knight Foundation was first discussed. She reminded me that she called me for advice on how to proceed and I advised her to think about forming an African American affiliate group such as the successful ones at the Detroit Institute of Art (which was perhaps the earliest) and of course the Museum of Modern Art. And then I advised that the money be put into an endowment to insure its continued growth and impact.

What are some of the challenges of representing artists of color in museums?
From my point of view there would be no challenges…you simply show them as part of the usual program of installations and collect their work when it demonstrates a degree of accomplishment and achievement. But that is naive in light of the need for art museum professionals to be proactive in recognizing the viability of that strategy. From what I have observed over 40 plus years in the field, the most desirable situation would be one in which the representations of artists of color would be respect the specificity of their cultural impulses, be mindful of when that is not the artist’s primary purpose, and perceive the relationship of the work of artists of color to that of their peers.

What does it mean to you to be honored at Art + Soul?
Well, I responded positively because of the wonderful people associated with PAMM over the last few decades who have invited me to participate in programming around artists of color and engaged in their dialogues around how to get to the moment where we have arrived today. Of course, I would do whatever Franklin Sirmans asked me (within reason) and I think of all the individuals who have welcomed me to Miami: Toni and Carl Randolph, Marvin Holloway, Marilyn Holifield, Regina and Ron Fraser, and salute the work of Carole Hall, who with her husband Ira, was a great support to me when I was at the Studio Museum in Harlem.


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