Barry Portier, co-chair of the new group, said he is excited about his new role at the North Carolina Museum of Art.
"I'm a firm believer that you have to know where you came from and know about your history in order to understand where you are now and where you're going," he said. "The main reason this group was formed was to have a group that would spearhead the acquisitions of African art and art by black Americans here in the U.S. and show the connections."
The museum just acquired an untitled work by North Carolina native John Biggers that shows two African women protectively flanking a community of African-Americans. Abena Busia, a poet and scholar from Ghana, said that kind of influence is not limited to visual arts.
"You can see that influence everywhere -- in music, the visual arts. I think people don't recognize that it exists even in the oral arts and novels and so on," she said.
The Friends of African and African-American Art hope their efforts will improve education and show there is a role for both kinds of art in the museum.
"Very often, those two groups are competing when we're talking resources, so it's wonderful to see that this group is interested in both and interested in keeping that coherence of conversation going," Busia said.
The John Biggers painting is one of the new group's first success stories. It will be formally installed in October.
Anyone who is interested can do their part to improve the acquisition of African and African-American art by joining the new group by calling
. Membership is $50 annually and family membership is $90 annually.
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