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 Gregory D Jr Ridley  (1925 - 2004)

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Lived/Active: Tennessee      Known for: figure, history, landscape, sculpture

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
A Mask Ritual
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Bob Kirk, November 2002:

Gregory D. Ridley, Jr., a native of Smyrna, Tennessee, was born in 1925.  In 1936, his family moved to Nashville, where he was educated in the city's public schools.  After service in the United States Navy during World War II, he enrolled at Fisk University, where he studied under the renowned Aaron Douglas, who remained a close friend and mentor until his death in 1979.

Ridley earned an undergraduate degree in art education from Tennessee State University and a master's degree in fine arts from the University of Louisville.  Ridley is the first person of any color to receive this degree at the University of Louisville.

He has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a teacher, including faculty appointments at Alabama State University, Grambling State University, Tennessee State University, Fisk University, and City University of New York, where he also served as the University's museum coordinator.  After a second term of service at Fisk, during which time he also served as President Henry Ponder's special advisor on the arts, he returned to Tennessee State University.

His has been an extremely active "retirement." He was the artist-in-residence at Morehouse College during the 1995-96 academic year, and he has conducted a number of workshops and seminars elsewhere.  He served the Tennessee State Museum as a guest curator, organizing the acclaimed exhibition "Visions of My People: African-American Artists in Tennessee."  He executed a major commission for Fisk: a pair of low-relief sculpted panels which now grace the entrance doors to the Van Vechten Gallery.

The panels, made possible by a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, depict the individuals most intimately associated with the gallery: Alfred Stieglitz, collector and purveyor of modern art; his widow, painter Georgia O'Keefe, who donated the Stieglitz Collection to Fisk in 1949; Dr. Charles S. Johnson, the first African-American president of Fisk; Aaron Douglas, chairman of the art department at Fisk for more than thirty years; Pearl Creswell, the long-time, much admired curator of the gallery; and Carl Van Vechten, writer and photographer, who was instrumental in securing the gift of the Stieglitz Collection for Fisk.

Ridley's work has been widely exhibited and collected.  Locally, he has been featured in exhibits at the Tennessee State Museum, Cheekwood, the Nashville Artists' Guild, Tennessee State University, and Fisk.  In recent years, his work as also been seen at the J. B. Speed Museum, the Toledo Arts Center, and Morehouse College.  His work is included in the collections of museums, corporations, and individuals throughout the United States.

His latest major work is "A Story of Nashville", located in Nashville's new, state-of-the-art public library.  Inside the Grand Reading Room, a series of 80 hammered copper repoussee (frieze) panels, integrated within the tops of the bookshelves, forms a linear story of Nashville's history from its pre-settlement period to the present day.  This project represents the largest number of pieces in a major work by the artist to date, and its historic journey promises to become a legacy for Nashville and its residents.  The panels begin to the east, right of the main entrance to the reading room, and continue counterclockwise completely around the room, occupying sixteen alcoves.
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Note from Jamaal Sheats:
Professor Ridley passed away January 10, 2004.


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Gregory Ridley is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Black American Artists

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