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NFL Star Kelvin Beachum Uses Art Collecting as Activism

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Shortly after their marriage, Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum and his wife Jessica were on a cruise when an art piece depicting endangered tigers caught their eye. The couple loves wildlife and were captivated enough to purchase the painting to add to their home. They couldn’t have imagined that singular purchase would spark a fascination with the art world and lead them on a journey into researching well-known and emerging artists while amassing a collection that would one day garner its own exhibition.

Starting on February 18 and running through May 22, the couple will lend 10 of their paintings to Beachum’s alma mater, Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The exhibit “Narrative as Reality: A World Reimagined/Selections from the Jessica and Kelvin Beachum Family Collection,” will be displayed in the Hamon Arts Library. Each piece in the exhibit represents a perspective of the Black experience and includes art by Ryan Cosbert, Dominic Chambers, Robert Hodge, Nelson Makamo, Delita Martin, Mario Moore, Sungi Mlengeya, Athi-Patra Ruga, and Ferrari Sheppard.

“Art has really become part of the fabric of our family,” says Beachum. “It’s testament that when you start to explore, discover, and be curious, it can take you to some interesting places.”

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Throughout the 10-year NFL vet’s career, he’s been an advocate for ending domestic and worldwide hunger, along with providing access to science, technology, engineering, arts, and math in underserved communities. Art collection has allowed the Beachums to embark on a journey of discovery of Black history and other walks of life. Their home collection is comprised of work from artists of all backgrounds; each piece resonates with them from a historical or abstract perspective. Artworks also adorn the wall of his children’s room. “I think it’s super impactful to utilize art to continue to define and to explore what I’ve been talking about for years,” he says.

Beachum also serves as a member of SMU’s Executive Boards for the Simmons School of Education and Human Development and Lyle School of Engineering. While his exhibit will shine a spotlight on some of his favorite artists, he’s more excited about the outreach that will come along with that. Exhibiting artists Cosbert, Chambers, and Hodge will visit studio art classes at the school to lead discussions about their work, and Beachum is looking forward to what will come for those on campus and within and around the Dallas community from having the exposure to the artists and their work.

“I think work like Joy and Pain by Mario Moore is going to spark a very interesting conversation, considering the cycles that happen within the African-American community,” he says. “I think about how Dominic Chambers’s work alludes to Black people at rest, which isn’t portrayed enough. It’s great to be an athlete and have what I have, but to be able to leverage some of the pieces that are in our collection, be a steward of it to the world… that’s what is most meaningful to me.”

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