PAFA joins the city of Philadelphia in mourning the passing of Dr Constance Clayton
It is with great sadness that PAFA joins in mourning the death of Dr. Constance E. Clayton, Philadelphia’s first Black and female schools’ superintendent and longtime collector of African American art.
In 2019, Dr. Clayton gifted to PAFA a collection of 78 paintings, works on paper and sculptures by African American artists in loving memory of her mother Mrs. Williabell Clayton. Dr. Clayton was an advocate for increased prominence of African American art in museums, exhibitions and curatorial staff. She stated that when museums incorporate artists of color, “They say to African American children: ‘Somebody who looks like me did this, and I can do this too.’”
In 2020, PAFA celebrated this gift through an exhibition of the works, Awakened in You: The Collection of Dr. Constance E. Clayton. The collection includes the artists Henry Ossawa Tanner, Edward Bannister, Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Augusta Savage, Dox Thrash, Laura Wheeler Waring and Charles White among others. Dr. Clayton said at the time, that she thought it was important to share the collection so that the larger community would be able to see it, enjoy it and realize that African Americans has something special to contribute to culture.
As a memorial to Dr. Clayton’s life’s work, PAFA will be exhibiting two sculptures from the Clayton collection: Gamin by Augusta Savage, and Slave Boy by May Howard Jackson. The works will be on view in the Henry Luce Sculpture Study Center on the 2nd floor of PAFA’s Hamilton Building through November 26, 2023.