Springfield Museums offers lecture series on African, African-American art

SPRINGFIELD – An 8-part lecture series on African American art and the visual art and culture of the 54 countries in Africa will be offered in-person and virtually at the Springfield Museums this fall.

“Here +54: From the Smithsonian to Soweto, Arts of the African Americas and Africa,” presented by Kymberly S. Newberry, begins Sept. 28 and runs through Nov. 16. Lectures are available in person or via Zoom from 6:30 p.m.–8 p.m. weekly on Tuesdays. The cost is $140 for nonmembers and $120 for members.

The series will alternate lectures and masterclasses which feature a discussion with a scholar, art historian, or curator, with emphasis on a particular exhibition or genre of African American or African cultural expression that reflects their scholarly focus and expertise.

Paige Moreau, who coordinates classes for the Museum School, which is presenting the series, met Newberry in graduate school at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Moreau said she was eager for “the opportunity to engender a professional partnership, as well as nourish an old friendship,” with Newberry through this series. Together with Jeanne Fontaine, who directs the Museums School, the three developed the “Here +54”.

Newberry said museums are still lacking in their incorporation of African American and African art.

“In a time when issues of representation are so pressing, a recent survey of major American museums revealed that only 1.2% of artists in collections are African American,” she said.

Moreau said the lecture series offers an opportunity for participants to better understand and embrace African American and African Diasporan visual expression.

“Across the globe, this remarkable art has been an instrumental agent of triumph and change,” she said.

Kay Simpson, president and CEO of the Springfield Museums, said the museums continue to welcome visitors for in-person events, but wants to accommodate those who wish to participate from home.

“We are particularly excited to share learning opportunities like Kymberly Newberry’s lecture series on African American and African arts both in-person and virtually—so as many people as possible can access this important exploration of this rich and meaningful art history,” she said. “Our Museum School was quick to switch to virtual and then to utilize hybrid presentations to help ensure that access was uninterrupted by the pandemic.”

The lecture series will include the following topics:

  • September 28 – Sir David Adjaye, Black architects and The National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • October 5 – Masterclass: Dr. Kimberly Juanita Brown discusses Carrie Mae Weems, Roaming, 2006
  • October 12 – Polaroid & Apartheid and the Role of Photography in the Decolonization of West Africa
  • October 19 – Masterclass: Dr. Christa Clarke Discusses: The Gilded Age Revisited: Yinka Shonibare CBE at the Newark Museum
  • October 26 – Black Women in the Works of the Impressionists and Contemporary Multimedia Artist Mickalene Thomas
  • November 2 – Masterclass: Dr. Allen F. Roberts Discusses: “Brainsmithing”: The Art of Senegalese Artists Ndary Lô, Viyé Diba, and Moussa Tine
  • November 9 – Seeing This Makes Me Sweat Big Drops: Dilemmas in Curating/Translating African Art in American Art Museums
  • November 16 – Masterclass: Dr. James Smethurst Discusses: The Black Arts Movement

To register please for the series visit: https://springfieldmuseums.org/program/54-smithsonian-soweto-arts-african-americas-africa/

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Angelia S. Rico

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