Benny Andrews, Corner Pocket. 1989. Etching and Color Lithograph

Bowing his head down to reveal the top of the cap placed snugly over it, a man situates his best foot forward for a game of billiards. His left elbow is drawn upwards to provide support for the extended cue stick, its point neatly placed between his fingertips. Overlapping into the the corner of a felt green, he is calculating. The cue rests directly in front of him, waiting for the next move in his strategic plan. Benny Andrews uses lines sparingly in his drawings, creating moments in time with a fragile gracefulness. One can almost predict the figure's next move- a smooth transition into the strike of the cue ball, barrelling forward into victory.

Benny Andrews was born in 1930 in a small town in Georgia. He graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1958 where he earned a degree in painting. Through his paintings, activism, and social justice, he was dedicated to the pursuit of African American visibility in the arts sphere. Aside from his activism through art, Andrews co-founded the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC) in response to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s controversial exhibition, Harlem on My Mind: The Cultural Capital of Black America, 1900-1968. The main purpose of the group’s organization was to protest the exclusion of artists of color in art museums and historical discourse.  He also led art education programs for disadvantaged students and developed new models to assist with teaching art in prisons. In New York, he served as the Director of the Visual Arts program for the National Endowment of the Arts. Before and after this, he had an extended teaching position at Queens College.

Throughout his life, Benny Andrews held solo exhibitions in Harlem, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Hartford, and many others. Before his death in 2006, he was creating illustrations for children’s books that depicted the lives Josephine Carroll Smith, W.W. Law, Langston Hughes, and John Lewis.

This print was bequeathed to the Wayne State University Art Collection by Sheila and Hughes Potiker in 2012.

-Written by Marissa N. Gannascoli-