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Black History Month at Cummer Museum means the world to Jacksonville artist

Some events at the museum in February include work by Black artists, free Friday performances and virtual conversations.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is celebrating Black History Month through in-person and virtual events. 

That includes work by Black artists, free Friday performances, and virtual conversations. This means the world to a Jacksonville-born artist. 

"It really just occurred to me how little I saw of myself whether that was seeing Black women or people of color in general in fine arts spaces," Erin Kenrick said. 

Artist Erin Kendrick grew up coming to the Cummer Museum.

"This space is now more inclusive," Kendrick said. "This space is now more open. This space is now more welcoming to all people."

Now she sees herself in artwork at the museum.

"The painting behind me is called Simone," Kendrick said.

Kendrick put paint to canvas bringing Simone to life and the story of her economic and social oppression. 

"It's important for people to be able to see artwork that reflects themselves. It's very important to learn the history. There's so much history that's untold here in our communities," said Wanda Willis, director of community engagement and inclusion at the Cummer Museum. 

That history includes Black representation in art and work by Black artists. That includes sculptures by Augusta Savage who was born in 1892 in Green Cove Springs. 

Kendrick believes having her artwork and the art of other Black artists at the Cummer Museum helps to bring the history and culture of people of color to life so more people see themselves represented in art.

"To have come this far and to have work here at the Cummer Museum, which was so much a part of my childhood, it's really an honor. It's really a full-circle moment," Kendrick said.

This is just the beginning for Kendrick and other Black artists featured at the Cummer Museum.

"For all of us, there's really no where to go but up," Kendrick said. "This is like a first step to us becoming more nationally-known names and doing more internationally as well."

The artists are making their voices and faces heard so the community can see people of all backgrounds and colors in local art.