Bell was so insistent that Ramey
More astounding to Ramey
, now the dean of the business school at California State University, Sacramento
, was the fact that the woman was white yet all of her
art was by African American artists.
showed us around her
home with pride, pointing to her
various acquisitions," Ramey recalls.
Then the woman said something that Ramey
says forever changed her
said that most people didn't appreciate black artists and that she
also noticed when she
was purchasing black art, that very few black people were buying it.
"I said to myself, 'One day when I get to the place where I can afford this type of art, I'm going do it.I'm not going to have to go to a white person's house to see original black art.'"Since that time, Ramey and her husband, Melvin Ramey, a professor of civil engineering at the University of California, Davis, have centered much of their lives around finding and purchasing art by Africans and African Americans.
The Rameys are part of a growing group of higher-income African Americans who have the luxury of buying black art and showcasing it as an important aspect of their lives.
For them, collecting black art is an important cultural endeavor and demonstrates their commitment to preserving important elements of black culture.
Much of the art displayed in their home just outside Sacramento is folk art from the art districts and side-street studios of El Salvador; Bahia, Brazil; Harare, Zimbabwe; Kenya; and Jamaica -- as well as small storefront studios tucked away in the urban areas of Sacramento and other U.S. cities.
"We try to buy art from people whether they have big names or not," Mel Ramey
"We see the talent and we appreciate it," Fel chimes in.
Finding art pieces for their homes has become an important collaborative effort for the couple.
"Often we choose the same pieces, only for different reasons.Mel
may like it for the culture and the feel, whereas I may like it for the technical aspects," Fel says.