Expanding the Legacy: New Collections on African American Art

Charles Searles papers

Donated in 2012 by Kathleen Spicer Searles, widow of Charles Searles

Sculptor and painter Searles (1937–2004) used abstract forms and bold color to explore themes in Black visual culture, dance, and music. Searles came of age in Philadelphia during the politically and culturally dynamic 1960s, and his personal papers reveal a man deeply connected to his roles as both artist and activist, epitomized by his involvements with the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC), founded in 1969, which demanded representation of Black artists and curators in ‘mainstream’ American museums.