Local professor's art on display at Smithsonian

A University of Houston-Downtown professor is getting a permanent exhibit at the new wing of the Smithsonian opening this Saturday.

HOUSTON- Saturday will mark the grand opening of a big museum in Washington, DC.

The Smithsonian will debut a new building, dedicated exclusively to African-American life, history and culture.

One piece of art on display comes from a professor and artist here in Houston, Ray Newsum. 

Although his art is seen around Houston and the entire country, it's a painting called "After the Storm CNN" that he believes that has catapulted him beyond the walls of University of Houston-Downtown where he's taught for 40 years.

He painted the work after watching countless hours of the network's coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

"I focused on one station and that was CNN because it was on 24 hours and was thinking about what I could do," Newsum said.

Now 10 years later, this and another of his creations have been picked by curators at the National Museum of African-American history and culture in Washington, DC.

"DC is like New York: it attracts an international audience," Newsum said.

Both works are now part of their permanent collection.

"There's no museum that rivals it. It is so fantastic," he added."This one to me is like being in the Whitney or the Met because of the grand stature of it."

While he's an artist first, he's quick to point out his other important job as a professor of UH Downtown. That is where many of his murals occupy the walls and where his teachings resonate.

"Their purpose here is to succeed and when they graduate to contribute to society," Newsum said.

If you can't make it to DC, some of Newsum's work is on display currently at the Houston Museum of African-American culture on Caroline Street.

Newsum turns 66 in November and says this break for him is a lesson to his students to never give up.

 

(© 2016 KHOU)


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