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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

This program has been canceled. Ticket holders will be notified about credit and/or refund options.

Africa in the African American Artistic Imagination

Evening Program

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1H0497

"Mary Turner: A Silent Protest", 1919, by Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller

In the early decades of the 20th century, two esteemed Howard University professors—Alain Locke and James A. Porter—debated the impact of African art on African Americans artists. Locke, the philosopher, called African art the “ancestral legacy” and argued that African American artists should develop a “closer knowledge and proper appreciation” of it. Porter, the artist and art historian, said that African Americans were first and foremost American artists.

Over the decades, African American artists have come down on both sides of the debate. Art historian Kevin Tervala examines the ways in which African American artists have—or have not—engaged with the art of the African continent. His discussion includes early 20th-century pioneers Aaron Douglas, Meta Warrick Fuller, and Lois Mailou Jones, as well as more contemporary artists such as David Driskell, Oletha Devane, Melvin Edwards, Joyce Scott, and Jack Whitten. 

Tervala is an associate curator of African art at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and department head for the arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*

*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.