Memories and Inspiration: A Collection of African American Art


The Lyman Allyn Art Museum is now presenting “Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art.” The extensive exhibition celebrates the passion of an ordinary couple who spent more than 35 years as devoted connoisseurs building a collection of vivid artworks that is both resonant and remarkably personal.

“Memories & Inspiration” will be on view at the Lyman Allyn, the only venue in the Northeast, through August 22, 2021.

African American art collection
Image Credit: Sedrick Huckaby, “She Wore Her Family’s Quilt,”A 2015, oil on canvas. Photograph by Gregory Staley.

The show presents 62 selected works from a body of art amassed by Kerry, a retired mailman, and Betty, a former television news producer, who gladly gave up many ordinary comforts to fill their home with these extraordinary paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures as their principal luxuries.

Their collection includes works by Radcliffe Bailey, Romare Bearden, Beverly Buchanan, Elizabeth Catlett, Ernest T. Crichlow, Sam Gilliam, Loïs Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Alma Thomas, and Charles White. In selecting their work, the couple did not search exclusively for well-known and/or documented artists. Rather, they focused on gathering and preserving a range of artistic approaches to the black image.

“We’re delighted to share this beautiful and eclectic collection with visitors to the Lyman Allyn,” said Director Sam Quigley. “It includes an exciting mix of artists and styles, but the couple’s story and personal connections to the art is equally powerful.”

“Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art” was organized and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC. It is supported by the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts; and an anonymous foundation. For more information, please visit

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