Images of African American women as church lady, mother, soul sister, freed slave and black Madonna fill display cases in “The Spirit of African American Women in Art” exhibit in the lobby of the Tomás Rivera Library. The artwork will remain on display throughout February in a celebration of Black History Month.

Curated by internationally known artist Charles Bibbs, the exhibit includes 13 depictions of African American women in artwork ranging from acrylics and charcoal to photography and lithographs. Among the works are two pieces by Bibbs: “Tubman’s War,” a mixed media presentation of Harriett Tubman, who escaped slavery to become a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad; and “The Black Madonna,” commissioned for the film “The Secret Life of Bees” and created using a process known as giclee – digital prints made on ink-jet printers.

“It is wonderful to have art works by African American artists of the caliber of Charles Bibbs and his colleagues exhibited in the UCR Libraries in celebration of Black History Month,” said Ruth Jackson, university librarian. “This is the first such exhibit to be hosted by the libraries and represents what we hope will be future opportunities to further expand the UCR Libraries’ role as a cultural as well as an intellectual center.”

Later this month UCR Libraries will host a panel and reception featuring Bibbs and other artists of color.

Bibbs, who lives in Riverside, is one of the top-selling African American artists in the country. His works have appeared in exhibitions at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles, the Howard University Blackburn Gallery in Washington, D.C., the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, the Museum of African American Art in Los Angeles, and the Tokyo International Fine Art Show.

He has received numerous awards and honors, among them the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the African American Chamber of Commerce, the United Negro College Foundation Honoree Award, and the NAACP Freedom Community Award.

In addition to “The Spirit of African American Women in Art” exhibit, UCR Libraries is hosting an exhibition by African Student Programs documenting the history of the African American student experience at UCR.