March 14, 2021—Like many other cultural institutions around the country, the August Wilson African-American Cultural Center (AWAACC) had to put its 2020 exhibition plans on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I was delighted to learn that the delay has resulted in the expansion of the center’s vision for an extraordinary exhibition honoring the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, which will now open in fall 2021.
August Wilson: A Writer’s Landscape will explore the people and places of Pittsburgh where Mr. Wilson was born and raised, and which were the inspiration for his award-winning, 10-play American Century Cycle. The plays explore the African-American experience in each decade of the 20th century and were all produced on Broadway. Mr. Wilson won many awards, including seven New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards; a Tony Award for Fences; and two Pulitzer Prizes—or Fences and The Piano Lesson. He also was the recipient of the National Humanities Medal, given to people whose work deepen the nation’s understanding of the humanities and broaden citizen engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects.
The expansion plans for this first-ever exhibition dedicated to Mr. Wilson’s life and works, include multi-sensory exhibitions and virtual programming spread across 3,600 square feet of the August Wilson African-American Cultural Center. Presented in three sections, or acts, the exhibition will showcase the universal themes Mr. Wilson tackled in his work, along with artifacts from his life and notable productions of his work.
The AWAACC developed this project in partnership with Constanza Romero Wilson, Mr. Wilson’s widow and executor of the August Wilson Estate, and his longtime collaborator David Gallo, the Tony Award-winning scenic designer. The exhibition is being created with the assistance of leading design firms, scholars, and local artists. Major support is being provided by the Hillman Foundation and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation for support of the design, creation, and implementation of the exhibition. BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania is providing support for virtual programming and future upgrades.
The expansion plans also brought in two new collaborators—the August Wilson Archives housed at the University of Pittsburgh, and New York Public Radio, which produced the audio recordings of Mr. Wilson’s 10 plays.
I highly encourage the readers of Arts & Culture Connections to make plans—COVID-aware plans—to visit the beautiful AWAACC and see this historic exhibition honoring one of our cultural champions and literary legends. And don’t forget to check out this year’s Black Heritage postage stamp. which honors August Wilson as the 44th stamp in this series.
As always, I would like to know what you think. Please share your comments below.