“To Whom Much Is Given” is a project developed by curator, Malika N. Pryor, that was ten years in the making. It considers the lives and histories of trailblazers — Josephine Love, founder of Your Heritage House Fine Arts Center for Young People and Dell Pryor, proprietor of Dell Pryor Galleries — who crushed racial, gender and age barriers with the power of their unrelenting excellence. The opportunities they engendered for others have colored and framed Detroit’s artistic and arts institutional canvas for more than half a century.
The centerpiece of the project — a mixed media exhibition — will chronicle Love and Pryor’s work using personal collections, archives and commissioned literary and contemporary works from various artists. The exhibition opens on Oct. 1, 2022 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Josephine Love and Dell Pryor
It was over ten years the idea to celebrate Josephine Love and Dell Pryor, two of Detroit’s greatest arts advocates and creatives, was sparked in curator and arts administrator, Malika N. Pryor. However, it wasn’t until 2019 that she found a way to bring it to fruition. “I saw an ad for the Knight Arts Challenge, I’d just relocated back to my hometown, and thought to myself, this is a way for me to work from a place of love, to finally do something I’ve been wanting to do with the funding I need to get it done.
“To Whom Much Is Given,” a project that includes three major programs exploring the professional lives and histories of trailblazers. The two women — Love, who passed in late 2003 and Pryor, who is still curating at 94 years old — overcame racial, gender and age barriers with the power of their unrelenting spirit and their commitment to a culturally representative arts landscape in Detroit — a legacy that spans seven decades.
Three Phases Across Detroit
Whether mentoring artists or non-profit founders, or bringing world class artists into conversation with the local community, Love and Pryor brought Detroit art to the world and did their part to introduce Detroit to world class art. Between classes, students were likely to encounter master artists like Elizabeth Catlett and Jacob Lawrence while walked the halls of the victorian mansion on E. Ferry and. Emerging artists seeking to expand their practice or be seen as capable creatives could make their way to the Dell Pryor Galleries and if Dell saw something in you, that was often the beginning of a professional career.
In August, the project launched the first of its three initiatives: “Mission I’m Possible,” a youth arts program. Hosted by the historic Scarab Club, a cohort of youth, ages 12-16 from all across Detroit, spent their mornings discovering various Black arts movements, talking with Detroit-based arts entrepreneurs and learning from master artists like Carol Morisseau. In the afternoons, they took courses in painting, drawing, and photography modeled after the professional yet whimsical teaching approach embraced by Your Heritage House instructors.
The second program, “TWMIG: A Mural Experience,” is an installation and event celebrating Pryor and Love with a portrait mural to be painted by noted artist, Ijania Cortez. To be located at the corner of Cass and Forest in Midtown Detroit, the installation sits between their former businesses and just blocks away from Dell Pryor Galleries’ final location. The formal unveiling takes place on Sept. 30 as part of the Detroit Month of Design.
The anchor of the project — a mixed media exhibition — will chronicle Love and Pryor’s work using personal collections, archives and commissioned literary and contemporary works from various artists including Anita Bates, jessica Care moore, James Charles Morris and others.
“Of my grandmother’s nine grandchildren, five are practicing artists or are art professionals. Half of her six-children became arts practitioners as well as entrepreneurs. There is something about the way that she directly nurtured us that has made us all creatives.”Malika Pryor
“To Whom Much Is Given” is made possible by the support of the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation and is fiscally sponsored by the Wright Museum. Visit towhommuchisgiven.org for more information on additional programs and events.