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“A Journey of Creative Genius,” an exhibit of works by Philadelphia-based artist Paul Keene, will be on display at Lafayette College’s Portlock Black Cultural Center February 5 through March 10 as part of Lafayette’s celebration of Black History Month.

The works will include acrylic on paper, acrylic on canvas, mixed media, etchings, oil on canvas, and oil on paper. A public reception will be held for Keene at 4 p.m. Thursday, February 24, at the Portlock Center.

He has worked as an Artist in Residence at Lafayette College’s Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI). As a visiting artist, Keene produced a major work for the College’s collection, a large multicolored etching that has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

“His work as an artist at Lafayette has served as an inspiration for many of our students who have had the opportunity to work with him as participants in EPI’s apprenticeship program,” says Curlee Raven Holton, associate professor of art and director of the printmaking institute. “The students who assisted Keene in the execution of his prints often comment on the richness of his personal vision.”

Last year, Keene’s art was included in an exhibit of works by prominent Mexican and American graphic artists at Easton’s de Arte Magick Galleria, as well as in Lafayette’s 1999 celebration of Black History Month.

Keene, whose art career spans over six decades, was inspired by an early teacher, Philadelphia artist Allan Freelon, as well as by the reputations of other black artists who succeeded against great odds. His talent was recognized early on by gallery directors and art institutions, which included his works in many local, national, and international exhibitions. He participated in Philadelphia’s WPA Arts Project (1939-40) while showing in the Carlen Gallery in Philadelphia and the Downtown Gallery in New York City. Keene’s work was regarded highly enough to be included in exhibitions with such noted American artists as Romare Bearden and Horace Pippin. Art historian James Porter documented his art in the famous text Negro Art in 1943.

Keene received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from The Tyler School of Fine Arts and his Master’s of Fine Arts from Temple University in 1948. From 1948 to 1951, he studied at the Academie Julien in Paris, France. During this period, he worked and exhibited with European artists Pablo Picasso and Fernand Leger.

Support for the exhibition has been provided by the Black History Month Committee, the Art Department and the Experimental Printmaking Institute, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of Intercultural Development, the Afro-Studies Department, and the Riley Temple Performing and Visual Arts Fund. In addition, Lewis Tanner Moore has provided curating assistance.

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