Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Modernisms Symposium in South Africa

On June 13 and 17, the Multiple Modernisms Project (MMP) to which I belong will have its final symposium, respectively at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and the University of Cape Town. At the Wits, the program is coordinated by Anitra Nettleton now emeritus professor and art historian at the Wits School of Arts; and at UCT, the art historian and depty Vice Chancellor, Sandra Klopper is the host. Nettleton and Klopper are part of the MMP.

Previous symposia of the MMP have taken place at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2012); Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge University, UK (2013); and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand (2014); in addition to a closed workshop at Princeton University (2015). The first two volumes originating from the Ottawa and Cambridge events are in preparing for publication by Duke University Press.

A highlight of the Cape Town symposium will be my public conversation with El Anatsui who, by the way, will be receiving an honorary doctorate degree from UCT on June 14! Actually UCT--arguably Africa's best university, is doing something noteworthy for contemporary African art: last year it also awarded an honorary degree to Okwui Enwezor.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

To University of South Florida, a Note of Thanks

I was in Tampa, Florida this past weekend to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award for Outstanding Service in the Arts, from The College of the Arts, University of South Florida. It was such an nice event. Most of professors--David Wright, Brad Nickels, Lou Marcus, and Mernet Larson are now gone. Wally Wilson the chair then is now Director of the School of Art and Art History (my home program then), and Helena Szepe and Elizabeth Fraser are still in the art history program, among a cohort of newer faculty that includes Allison Moore who teaches African Art. Before the ceremony, I visited the MFA exhibition and can say that the program remains as strong as I found it in 1998-1999, when I was there. Some changes have taken place, such as the inclusion of Architecture in the College, and the merging of the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) and the legendary Graphicstudio (the nationally-acclaimed printmaking and print archiving facility) into the Institute for Research in Art headed by Margaret Miller who in my day was just the director of CAM. An oh, I reunited with a ceramic piece I made in 1998, thanks to Irineo Cabreros, who ran the kilns then. Finally, thanks to Dean Moy and Wally Wilson, and all the faculty for this award. USF, was generous to me; it gave me a place of refuge when home threw me out. It set me on my US sojourn and travels through art history. That was more than enough.