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ADAMA exhibit to feature artwork of Pellom McDaniels III
Pellom McDaniels

Artwork created by Pellom McDaniels III, the late curator of Rose Library’s African American collections and former NFL player, will be exhibited at the African Diaspora Art Museum of Atlanta (ADAMA) starting May 10.

Before he passed away in April 2020, Pellom McDaniels III was a professional football player, scholar, author, poet, professor and the curator of the African American collections at Emory’s Rose Library. Less well-known among his many talents and pursuits, he was also an artist.

Now, his artwork will be exhibited at the African Diaspora Art Museum of Atlanta (ADAMA) starting on Friday, May 10. “A Shield Against Darkness: The Art and Scholarship of Pellom McDaniels III” focuses on McDaniels as a visual artist and showcases the work he produced over decades. The featured pieces reflect themes of memory, race, U.S. neocolonialism and spirituality. The exhibit is curated by Clint Fluker, senior director of culture, community and partner engagement for the Carlos Museum and Emory Libraries, and Fahamu Pecou, artist and ADAMA founder. All three earned their PhDs from Emory University.

The curators’ statement asserts, “Through different mediums and subject matter, McDaniels channeled a creative energy that both informs the spectator of this world’s perilous past and present, but also reminds us of the strength, beauty and light that Black people have always possessed, especially in the face of darkness.”

“I’m excited about this exhibition because it is an opportunity for people to learn more about a side of Pellom McDaniels that perhaps they were unaware of,” says Fluker, exhibit co-curator. As a graduate student, Fluker worked alongside McDaniels as his curatorial assistant.

“Pellom's impact on Emory’s Rose Library is well known, but his talent as a visual artist is often overlooked. I’m grateful to my good friend and fellow ILA (Institute of Liberal Arts) alum, Dr. Fahamu Pecou, for providing the impetus and space for this exhibition to take place at ADAMA. I look forward to people coming to the opening and also attending the conversation we will have with Pellom's wife, Navváb McDaniels, about his art and scholarship,” says Fluker. 

Gabrielle Dudley, interim co-director of the Rose Library, noted that McDaniels had a talent for building connections and continues to do so even after his passing. 

“Pellom was a distinguished scholar and collector of African American culture. The Rose Library and its various communities continue to benefit from Pellom’s commitment to relationship-building and collecting within the African American history and culture genre,” Dudley says.

The exhibit is supported in part by Emory Libraries and Emory University, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Community Foundation, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and Fulton County Arts Council.

For more information, including visitor details and additional programming, please visit the exhibit page at the ADAMA website or email

Exhibit details:

Run dates: May 10-June 28, 2024

Location: ADAMA (inside the Nia Building at Pittsburgh Yards), 352 University Ave., Atlanta, GA 30310

Exhibit highlights:

McDaniels’ art explores profound themes of sports, race, U.S. neocolonialism and spirituality. Each piece serves as a conduit of creative energy that not only confronts the viewer with the perilous history and present conditions but also celebrates the enduring strength, beauty and luminosity of the Black experience and resilience in adversity.

Visit the website for more information.

Opening reception:

May 10, 2024, 6-9 p.m.

Location: ADAMA (inside the Nia Building at Pittsburgh Yards), 352 University Ave., Atlanta, GA


Register for the reception online.

ADAMA Arts Salon:

May 12, 2024, 2-3 p.m.

Featuring Navváb McDaniels and moderated by Clint Fluker, the two will discuss McDaniels’ legacy and reflect on his roles as a scholar, curator, author, historian, artist, athlete, husband and father.

Register for the salon online.

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