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Reshaping the Field: Arts of the African Diasporas on Display
November 4 - 6, 2021
→ Online Event
Nana Adusei-Poku

All recordings of Reshaping the Field: Arts of the African Diasporas on Display are available to view here.

As part of its 30th anniversary program, CCS Bard is pleased to present the online conference Reshaping the Field: Arts of the African Diasporas on Display on November 4-6, 2021, and will highlight exhibition case studies that have created ruptures in how Blackness has been framed through exhibitions and stresses how Black artists have been viewed and African diasporic art histories have been shaped.

Reshaping the Field is inspired by and honors art historian and curator Bridget Cooks’s groundbreaking monograph Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum, which was the first critical exploration of exhibitions in major American art museums that focus on African American artists. Cooks identifies in her study two methodological paradigms: the “anthropological,” emphasizing Black racial difference and white normalcy, and “the corrective approach,” aimed at redefining and expanding American art. Reshaping the Field: Arts of the African Diasporas on Display aims to expand the field of exhibition histories through a selection of pioneering exhibitions that have shaped the domain of Black art today.

While addressing the seemingly never-ending tension between art as universal versus identity specific with a transdiasporic view (US/UK), each panel approaches this inquiry in different ways, showing that the question of Black identity in art and exhibition-making is inherently historically and systemically produced. Yet the conference aims to reflect on the sociopolitical circumstances that were essential to the emergence of a field of study and mode of exhibition that is constantly reshaping itself and challenging normative orders. This conference is the first to focus exclusively on exhibitions featuring African diasporic art in the US and the UK, combining the perspectives of art historians and curators, who represent both secondary researchers and contemporary witnesses, which means that we will have the opportunity to gather knowledge that traverses art historical research and oral history while generating primary sources. This approach is particularly invaluable in regard to the contributions by historically Black colleges and universities, from 19th century until the middle of the 20th century, that laid the groundwork for collections and the support of artists that allowed the field to emerge.

Confirmed speakers:

Mora J. Beauchamp-Byrd, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art and Design at the University of Tampa, US; Bridget Cooks, Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and the Department of African American Studies, University of California, Irvine, US; Abby Eron, Registrar at the Howard University Gallery of Art;Amber Esseiva, Associate Curator at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Virginia Commonwealth University, US and CCS Bard alum; Cheryl Finley, Inaugural Distinguished Visiting Director of the Atlanta University Center Collective for the Study of Art History & Curatorial Studies, Spelman College, and Associate Professor of Art History at Cornell University, US; Languid Hands (Imani Robinson and Rabz Lansiquot), independent curators and Curatorial Fellows at Cubitt Gallery, UK; Julie McGee, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Art History and Director of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center, University of Delaware, US;Kobena Mercer, Charles P. Stevenson Chair of Art History and Humanities, Bard College, US; Derek Conrad Murray, Professor of Art History at the University of California, Santa Cruz, US; Serubiri Moses, independent curator and CCS Bard alum, US; Senam Okudzeto, Artist and Educator, Switzerland and US; Monique Renee Scott, Professor of Art History and Director of Museum Studies at Bryn Mawr College, US; Jamaal B. Sheats, Director of Fisk University Galleries, US; Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art & Art History at Duke University, US; Howard Michael Singerman, Phyllis and Joseph Caroff Chair of Art and Art History at Hunter College, City University of New York, US; Marlene Smith, artist, curator, and Research Manager of Black Artists and Modernism, University of the Arts London and Middlesex University London, UK; Lucy Steeds, Reader at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, UK; and Brittany Webb, Curator at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, US.

Reshaping the field: Arts of the African Diasporas on Display is organized by Nana Adusei-Poku, Associate Professor and Luma Scholar at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.

Lead support for this program is provided by the Marieluise Hessel Foundation. This conference is also made possible in part through the generous support of the Luma Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and through funding from Dutchess Tourism, administered by Arts Mid-Hudson.