Mellon Arts Dialogue

Mellon Arts Dialogue is one of the initiatives under the Mellon Arts Program focused on in-depth conversation between Columbia faculty and distinguished Black artists working in various disciplines. Dialogues are meant to offer greater insight into the artists creative process and provide a context for their contribution to the field. These dialogues provide a way of understanding contributions made by black creatives today. The series will be accessible to audiences at Columbia and the public at large.


Past Mellon Arts Dialogues

Image of event poster for Mellon Arts Dialogue
Photo of Okwui Okpokwasili a Brooklyn-based performance maker

Okwui Okpokwasili is a Brooklyn-based performer, choreographer and writer creating multidisciplinary performance pieces. The child of immigrants from Nigeria, Okpokwasili was born and raised in the Bronx, and her performances draw on the histories and imagined futures of places and women whose voices have long been overlooked and continue to be marginalized. She has received many awards for outstanding performance including the Bessie Award, and the MacArthur Genuis Grant Award.

Returning, 2021

Poor People’s TV Room, 2016

Adaku’s Revolt, 2018

Bronx Gothic, 2014


Saidiya Hartman is University Professor, and a Professor English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. A MacArthur fellow, Prof. Hartman has published essays on photography, film and feminism. She is the author of Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery and Self-making in Nineteenth Century America (new 25th edition just released), Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route and Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval. She has published articles on slavery, the archive, and the city, including “The Terrible Beauty of the Slum,” “Venus in Two Acts” and “The Belly of the World.” She has been a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library, a Fulbright Scholar in Ghana, a Whitney Oates Fellow at Princeton University, and a Rockefeller Fellow at Brown University.

Presented in co-sponsorship by
Mellon Foundation and Columbia University Mellon Arts Project
Department of African American & African Diaspora Studies- Columbia University (AAADS)
Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University (IRAAS)