The Black Curators Matter Oral History Project is an intergenerational dialogue series between Black visual art curators who have made an outstanding impact across the arts and cultural world. The initiative is being organized by the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies Mellon Arts Project at Columbia University, in collaboration with the Columbia Center for Oral History Research and is sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Part 2 of the Black Curators Matter series foregrounds the period between the 1980s and 1990s examining the extraordinary contribution made by Black curators who have brought a diverse awareness of Black artists into public consciousness. Their commitment and quality of work has contributed towards exposure to a broad spectrum of artistic practices by Black artists today.
Aaron Bryant, Curator, National Museum of African American History and Culture Kellie Jones, Hans Hofmann Professor of Modern Art, Art History, and Archaeology, and Chair, African American and African Diaspora Studies, Columbia University T. Jean Lax, Curator, Department of Media and Performance, MoMA (Moderator) Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History, Duke University
Black Curators Matter is led at Columbia University by Kellie Jones, the Hans Hofmann Professor of Modern Art in the Department of Art History and Archaeology and chair of the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies; and Tumelo Mosaka, the Mellon Arts Projects Director; in collaboration with Farah Jasmine Griffin, the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American and African Diaspora Studies. Technical and research support is provided by the Columbia Center for Oral History Research. Black Curators Matter is part of the Mellon Arts Project, an initiative that is designed to sustain the centrality of the arts in African American and African Diaspora Studies and its broader intellectual community, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The program will take place in English and is free with advance registration. Register now
Aaron Bryant is a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and co-curator of the Johnson Publishing Archives. Prior to the Smithsonian, he was curator of Morgan State University’s James E. Lewis Museum of Art. Bryant’s visual anthropology and social justice research has received honors from such institutions as the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the US Justice Department, the US Congress, the Smithsonian, and the Royal Anthropological Institute, UK. Additionally, Bryant has lectured with the US State Department at universities and cultural institutions throughout Barcelona, Seville, and Madrid, Spain. He is chair of the Public Arts Commission in Baltimore and a commissioner for Baltimore’s Commission on Historical and Architectural Preservation. He also served as chair of Baltimore’s Confederate Monuments Commission. Bryant earned his PhD from the University of Maryland, an MFA from Yale University, and an AB from Duke University.
Dr. Kellie Jones is Chair of the Department African American and African Diaspora Studies and Hans Hofmann Professor of Modern Art in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. Her research interests include African American and African Diaspora artists, Latinx and Latin American Artists, and issues in contemporary art and museum theory. A member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Jones was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2016. Her writings have appeared in a multitude of exhibition catalogues and journals. She is the author of two books published by Duke University Press, EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art (2011), and South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s (2017). Dr. Jones has also worked as a curator for over three decades and has numerous major national and international exhibitions to her credit.
Richard J. Powell (MFA, MA, MPhil, PhD) is the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History at Duke University. Along with teaching courses in American art and the arts of the African diaspora, he has written on a range of topics, including such titles as Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson (1991), Black Art: A Cultural History (1997, 2002, 2021), Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture (2008), and Going There: Black Visual Satire (2020). Powell has also organized numerous art exhibitions, most notably Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance (1997), To Conserve A Legacy: American Art at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (1999), Back to Black: Art, Cinema, and the Racial Imaginary (2005), and Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist (2014). From 2007 until 2010, Powell was editor-in-chief of the Art Bulletin, an English-language journal in art history.
Thomas J. Lax is a writer and a curator in the Department of Media and Performance at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He recently curated the exhibition Just Above Midtown: 1974 to the Present with Linda Goode Bryant. They were the inaugural recipient of the Cisneros Research Grant, traveling to Brazil in 2020 to research contemporary Black art. In 2019, he worked with colleagues across the Museum on a major rehang of the collection and co-organized the exhibition Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done in 2018 with Ana Janevski and Martha Joseph. They have organized other projects at MoMA, including Unfinished Conversations, Maria Hassabi: PLASTIC, Neil Beloufa: The Colonies, and Steffani Jemison: Promise Machine. Previously, he worked at the Studio Museum in Harlem for seven years.
Sign language interpretation available
American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and live captioning is available for public programs upon request with two weeks’ advance notice. MoMA will make every effort to provide accommodation for requests made with less than two weeks’ notice. Please contact [email protected] to make a request for these accommodations.
Assisted listening capabilities available
This theater is equipped with an induction loop that transmits directly to hearing aids with T-coils.