Join Dr. Bridget Cooks and Dr. Kellie Jones, two professors combining African American and Black Diaspora studies with Art History, for a virtual program as they spend an evening unraveling the impact and legacy left behind by artist and arts advocate Ruth Waddy. Waddy was a visionary and pioneer for the recognition of Black artists in and across the United States. In 1987, after receiving an honorary doctorate from Otis Arts Institute of Parsons School of Design, Waddy was deemed a “prophet exclaiming the news of Black artists and calling upon the world to embrace them.”
Jones and Cooks will be tracing the life of Waddy and the lasting effects she has left on the contemporary art world, the representation of Black artists and the prevailing doors that remain open from her efforts. This evening will be both history lesson and celebration, both nostalgic and forward-seeking. Please join us from the comfort and safety of your own home.
This program will be taking place virtually via Ring Central, powered by Zoom. This means that anyone interested in attending this program from anywhere in the world is welcome, all you need is an internet connection! Please RSVP (below) and the information for attending the program will be emailed to all of those on the list.
Please note: Program will be recorded and participants may need to download RingCentral software.
Please RSVP here. Admission is always free.
This program is organized on the occasion of Collective Constellation: Selections from The Eileen Harris Norton Collection on view at Art + Practice through January 2, 2021. Collective Constellation: Selections from The Eileen Harris Norton Collection is presented by Art + Practice in collaboration with the Hammer Museum and organized by their Associate Curator Erin Christovale.
Dr. Bridget R. Cooks fills a joint appointment in the Program in African American Studies and the Department of Art History at UCI. She is an Associate Professor within the School of Humanities and is also apart of the Graduate Programs in Visual Studies and Culture and Theory. Cooks’ research focuses on African American art and culture, Black visual culture, museum criticism, film, feminist theory, and post-colonial theory. In 2002 she earned her doctorate degree in the Visual and Cultural Studies Program at the University of Rochester. She has received a number of awards, grants, and fellowships for her work including the prestigious James A. Porter & David C. Driskell Book Award in African American Art History, and the Henry Luce Dissertation Fellowship in American Art. She has also curated several exhibitions of African American art including “The Art of Richard Mayhew” at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, 2009-2010. Prior to her appointment at UCI, she taught in the Department of Art and Art History and the Program of Ethnic Studies at Santa Clara University. She also served as a museum educator for the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Cooks is a UCI alumna. She received her B.A. from the School of Humanities in 1996.
Dr. Kellie Jones is an art historian and curator deepening our understanding of contemporary art of the African Diaspora and securing its place in the canons of modern and contemporary art. Her research and curatorial practice, which span large-scale museum exhibitions with extensive catalogs as well as scholarly books and articles, have been instrumental in introducing the work of now seminal black artists (such as Martin Puryear, David Hammons, and Lorna Simpson) to wide audiences and bringing to light long-forgotten or overlooked black artists.
Through the exhibition Energy/Experimentation: Black Artists and Abstraction, 1964–1980 (2006)—which highlighted numerous black artists working in abstract painting or sculpture—and her scholarly work on African American conceptualists, Jones has prompted a reevaluation of the view that African American art of the period was predominantly figurative or representational. At the same time, she refuses to treat the work of black artists as an isolated phenomenon, instead of drawing on keen attention to cross-cultural aesthetics and a highly developed sensitivity to the formal properties of art objects to integrate their work into the broader artistic production of the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960–1980, she both unearthed the histories of previously unknown Los Angeles–based black artists and contextualized their work alongside West Coast artists of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Jones’s exploration of interracial differences and racial solidarity among the artists in Now Dig This! reflects her ongoing interest in the ability of art to shape and advance communities, a theme she returned to in Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties (2014). With over 100 works by a diverse set of artists, Witness revealed distinct aesthetic strategies informed by but also responding to the struggle for racial justice, while also making a powerful case for the role of art in the civil rights movement. Through an array of critical interventions, Jones is writing the history of African American art and redefining the contours of American art history in general.
Kellie Jones received a B.A. (1981) from Amherst College and a Ph.D. (1999) from Yale University. She held curatorial positions at the Studio Museum in Harlem (1981–1983), Jamaica Arts Center (1986–1990), and Walker Art Center (1991–1998); was U.S. Commissioner for the Bienal de São Paulo (1989), and was a curator of the Johannesburg Biennale (1997). She was on the faculty of Yale University (1999–2006) prior to joining the faculty of Columbia University, where she is currently an associate professor in the Department of Art History and Archaeology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Research in African American Studies. In addition to her books, EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art (2011) and South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s (2017), Jones has authored essays in such journals as Artforum and Third Text and numerous exhibition catalogs.