Lectures on Art in the Black Diaspora
This series is an outreach effort that promotes intellectual interest in and scholarship surrounding art produced in the African Diaspora. It explores the notions of diaspora and cultural and ethnic dispersal. The program not only emphasizes the growing importance of diasporic studies and of Africa and the African Diaspora in contemporary art but also underscores the increasing significance of these fields at the University of Texas at Austin.
The topic of the lecture series changes yearly.
In 2005, the British artist-filmmaker Isaac Julien and critic-historian Eddie Chambers visited, as did the public artists Josh Sarantitis and Will Wilson.
In 2006, the focus was on Conceptual art: the artist and philosopher Adrian Piper, the artist Charles Gaines, and the art historian Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw visited, giving public presentations, seminars, and conducting critiques with M.F.A. graduate students.
In 2007, artist-activists were spotlighted. Rick Lowe (the founder of Project Row Houses in Houston) and Carla Williams (the photographer and historian of African American photography) visited, giving public lectures and engaging students in seminars and studio visits. That same year, visits with Maceo Montoya (the young artist-advocate of migrant workers, Mexican immigrants, and Chicanos) and the lesbian Chicana artist Alma Lopez were co-sponsored with the Center for Mexican American Studies.*
In 2008, the British theorist and historian Kobena Mercer kicked off the lectures. In addition to providing a well-attended public presentation, he visited the studios of M.F.A. students and led a seminar at the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies. Photographer Renee Cox and painter Beverly McIver also visited in the fall semester, providing public lectures and conducting studio visits with M.F.A. students.
In 2009-2010, we partnered with the Center for Asian American Studies to present a series of lectures focused on Asian American Art. Historian Gordon Chang lectured on 29 September 2009; artist Roger Shimomura lectured on 20 October 2009; and critic and curator lectured on 27 October 2009.
The series' emphasis will remain on exploring the art and idea of Diaspora through the insights provided by engaging and bright thinkers and practitioners.
The series was designed by and is coordinated by Michael Ray Charles and Cherise Smith.
*Maceo Montoya's visit was coordinated by Art History graduate student Tatiana Reinosa Perkins, and Alma Lopez's visit was coordinated by Art History graduate student Claudia Zapata.