David C. Driskell served as the Elder Advisor to Indigo Arts Alliance. His mentorship, advice and support helped to affirm and inform our unique model. David generously shared his wealth of knowledge and experience in ways that have been instrumental in helping to sow the seeds for the future growth of the organization.
David C. Driskell revolutionized the field of African American art through his scholarship, innovation and humanity.
A giant in the art world, he played a critical role in bringing awareness to the art of African American artists at a time when these artists were overlooked. His work made it clear that African American art is essential to the American art canon.
Driskell was born the son of a minister in 1931 in Eatonton, Georgia, and was educated at Howard University. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1953 in Skowhegan, Maine, and maintained a lifelong relationship with the school, serving as visiting faculty, lecturer, and board member. He received an MFA in 1961 from Catholic University, in Washington, DC. His pioneering scholarship underpins the current field of African American art history. In 1977, after having taught at Howard and Fisk Universities, Driskell joined the Department of Art at the University of Maryland, where he remained until his retirement in 1998. In 2001, the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora opened at the University of Maryland in College Park.
In 2005, the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, established the prestigious David C. Driskell Prize to celebrate David C. Driskell’s legacy as an artist and art historian, an honor given each year to an Artist or Scholar who makes an original and important contribution to the visual arts and study of African American Art. The numerous awards and honors Driskell received over the years include the National Humanities Medal, which he was awarded in 2000. His work can be found in many museum collections, including The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; High Museum of Art, GA; The Yale University Art Gallery, CT; The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, NH; Colby College Museum of Art, ME; The Portland Museum of Art, ME; and The Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC.