Mabee Gerrer Museum's new exhibit opens Saturday and runs through March 17.

A Sense of Purpose: A Collector’s Life with Art, African-American Art from the Arthur Primas Collection is on exhibit from Jan. 19 until March 17.

A reception and gallery talk will be Friday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. and feature Michael Eddens, director of Arts Education Programs at the Oklahoma Arts Council and Alyson Atchison, Curator of Education and Capital Galleries.

Arthur Primas wanted this exhibit to represent his collecting focus. These 69 works by 26 artists represent only a fraction of the pieces in his collection. However, these pieces show a struggle for freedom, whether from slavery as Howardena Pindell’s Slavery Memorial Narratives or from societal and monetary pressures such as Tafa Fiadazibe’s Welfare Mom.

“[My] collection has been assembled because each work of art captured my eye and pulled me in. It might have been the movement in the piece, or the combination of colors. Whatever it was, it caused me to pause and listen for the message,” Primas wrote.

“Many of the artists in this exhibit are well-known African American artists like Jacob Lawrence and Charles White that you would find in any art history textbook. To get to see these pieces up close is an amazing opportunity,” said Delaynna Trim, Curator of Collections.

Many of the pieces in this exhibit have powerful stories behind them, sometimes a personal story from the artist’s history, like Hughie Lee-Smith’s Navy Sailor which references his own time in the Navy during WWII. Others reference broader political struggles, such as Tafa Fiadazibe’s Terrorists and Freedom Fighters. This work lists the names of many people and organizations declared terrorists at one time or another including the IRA, FBI, the KGB, and Nelson Mandela, who was on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorists for many years.

The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art is located on the campus of St. Gregory’s University, 1900 W. MacArthur St. in Shawnee. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors age 65 or older, $3 for students and children ages 6 to 17, and free for children age 5 and younger. Visit for more information.

This exhibition is funded in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council, ArtWorks, Allied Arts, and the Mr. and Mrs. R. J. Wissinger Memorial Fund. For accommodations on the basis of disability or more information on this exhibit, call the museum at (405) 878-5300.