Richard Yarde’s Savoy series came into being in March of 1982 with his exhibition Savoy at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. The Savoy Ballroom was the premier dancing venue for Black Americans from its opening in 1926 to its closing in 1958. Yarde painstakingly recreated the style and feeling of the storied ballroom. The show toured the country including the Studio Museum in Harlem just 15 blocks from the original ballroom.
Music and dance have always been a source of joy and inspiration for me. When I saw photographs of dancers and musicians at the Savoy Ballroom I was struck with the drama of loving courtship in dance, the risk taking of the dancers, and the roots in African dance. And I was deeply moved by the contradiction between the joy and skill of the dancers in the fact of their circumstances in the wider world. The Savoy became a source of creativity, joy, and strength to me which I want to share and honor.
Press About the Savoy Project
This is the original catalogue for the Savoy Installation in 1982, organized by The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in South Hadley, Massachusetts, before traveling to San Diego, Baltimore, and New York.
by Gwen Ifill, 1983
“Richard Yarde’s three-dimensional exhibition, “Savoy,” brings to life images and memories of an era in the black American cultural existence that are too often blurred by time.”
by Laura Holland, 1982
“In Savoy, Richard Yarde logically extends his painterly interests – in terms of subject matter and stylistic approach – into sculptural installation.”