Written by: Taylor Henderson, Exhibition Design Intern

In the following week Black History Month will be ending in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Perhaps you and your friends have either done something this month to show solidarity or learned something new about African-American culture and iconic figures. Even going to see “Black Panther” in theaters helps by supporting representation of African-Americans in the film industry. But if you’re looking for even more for your mind to chew on, DOMA can help.


Joseph Delaney. City Life, 1938. Oil on canvas. 21.38 x 14.38 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Harper. 2010.021.003

The featured painting this month was “City Life” by Joseph Delaney. Delaney was born in 1904 in Knoxville, Tennessee. During the years of the Great Depression, Delaney made his way to New York City where he established himself as an artist. He is most known for his scenes depicting the Harlem Renaissance.

“City Life” is one such work. The artwork, painted in 1938, depicts a pedestrian street scene at New York’s famous Times Square. It shows both the vibrancy of urban life and an intermingling of different peoples. The Harlem Renaissance (during the time also referred to as the New Negro Movement) was also a pivotal time for black people in America, and New York City was its mecca. Delaney captured this zeitgeist using a new artistic originality, which led to his almost immediate recognition as an esteemed artist.

In 1986, Joseph Delaney returned to Tennessee to become an artist-in-residence at the University of Tennessee, where he lived until his death in 1991. His art has been shown at The Art Institute of Chicago, Knoxville Museum of Art, Museum of the City of New York, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and of course the David Owsley Museum of Art (among others).

As with many artists it’s an honor to display their work, and it is no exception with Delaney. The museum encourages you to take the time and visit City Life before the month ends.


Delaney, Joseph. City Life. 1938, David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.

History.com Staff. “Harlem Renaissance.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www. history.com/topics/black-history/harlem-renaissance.

“Joseph Delaney.” David Owsley Museum of Art Collection, University Libraries Digital Media Repository, libx.bsu.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/MuseumBSU/id/6096/rec/1.

“Joseph Delaney (Artist).” Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia, Wikipedia Foundation, Inc., 30 Nov. 2017, 13:02, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Delaney_(artist).