Story and Photos by Makenna Mincey Data News Weekly Contributor
Terrance Osborne’s “Private Works” exhibit comes as a full circle moment in many ways. The internationally acclaimed New Orleans native who graduated from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and Xavier University’s Fine Arts Department always finds his way back home. The rich culture of the city continues to be the driving force of his works today, and with each piece, a story of this unique place comes to life before the viewer. In this intimate collection on display at Xavier’s Art Gallery, featured pieces like “Rebirth” depicts the leader of the New Orleans Band of the same name, Phil Fraser. There is “Belle of the Ball” depicting a woman and her love for Mardi Gras, and “Solidarity,” which represents unity between people of different backgrounds, among many others. Osborne said this collection on public display emphasized his feelings of nostalgia and joy in being able to share his work with the community and the city he loves. “I’m honored to be here, you know? I love that I’m in New Orleans and I can still visit my alma mater,” Osborne said at the opening of the exhibit on Jan. 12th. “I feel like Xavier [and] my peers who I graduated with, they came back and supported me. My teacher told me that would happen when I was at Xavier and it’s happening, so you know it’s beautiful to be back and it’s amazing because everybody looks so young, and I thought I was grown at the time when I was here at Xavier,” Osborne said. Anne Smith, the Director of the Xavier’s Art Gallery, highlighted the significance of the exhibit being at an HBCU and honoring an alumnus of that HBCU. “It’s really great you know because HBCUs are important institutions and HBCUs had the Art Departments that welcomed African American students …when other institutions didn’t and the majority of the HBCU Alumni are doing really well,” Smith said.
The reach of Osborne’s Artwork is nationwide and global, with its distinct colorful styles and tributes to the iconic look of New Orleans. Community members and art enthusiasts also gathered to experience Osborne’s works up close with the artist. Kenneth Wynn, a fan of the artist, travelled from Oakland, Calif. to view the exhibit. Despite just landing in the city, Wynn said he was full of energy and fully immersed in the gallery experience.
“It’s just how he captures the culture and how he captures the essence and spirit of the people, and then interprets it in such a vibrant way,” Wynn said. “It speaks to the spirit of the city. It speaks to the spirit of the people and if you have any connection to the city or don’t have any connection to the city you’re drawn to the work because… it just jumps off of the surface,”
Winn added. Osborne said his goal to showcase the collection of “Private Works” at the Xavier Exhibit was to inspire the next generation of artists just as he was inspired. He shared an anecdote about visiting the Gallery of Richard Thomas as a N.O.C.C.A Student and how it impacted him, saying that he saw “himself” in the artwork.
He later discovered that Thomas had studied under the same professor he was studying under at Xavier, the late John T. Scott. The multigenerational connection is something that he is reminded of now that he owns his own art gallery here in the city. “Hopefully they see me and see themselves,” Osborne said.