Friday, April 6, 2012

23rd Annual James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art

WASHINGTON – The Department of Art will present the 23rd Annual James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art, April 19-21. This year’s colloquium will address the role of stewardship and scholarship in collections of African-American and African Diaspora art. The conference coincides with the Department of Art’s 90th Anniversary Celebration.

The James A. Porter Colloquium is the leading forum for scholars, artists, curators as well as art enthusiasts in the field of African-American art and visual culture. Each year, the event attracts more than 700 educators, artists, scholars, collectors, and business professionals from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa.

The opening event will be held in conjunction with the Eleventh Annual David C. Driskell Distinguished Lecture, Thursday, April 19. The lecture will be given by Johnnetta B. Cole, Ph.D., director of the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The public reception begins at 5 p.m. and the lecture begins at 6 p.m. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 301-314-2615. Both events will be located at the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland. All other Porter Colloquium events will be held on the historic campus of Howard University.

For a listing of events, visit

The theme of this year’s colloquium is State of the Art: Addressing the Role of Stewardship and Scholarship in Public and Private Collections of African American Art and Art of the African Diaspora.

Aaron Douglas The Unknown

Aaron Douglas The Unknown, oil on masonite, 48” x 36”, 1924, Howard University Gallery of Art, Permanent Collection.
The colloquium will examine issues related to preservation, conservation, and publication initiatives from public and private institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Papers and presentations will focus on collaborative partnerships, research and restoration efforts, and survival strategies developed to sustain these important collections.

John Silvanus Wilson, Jr., Ed.D., executive director, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, will open the colloquium on Friday, April 20. Other speakers and panelists include Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., director of Spelman College Museum of Fine Art; Sanford Biggers, a New York-based performance and installation artist who challenges and informs contemporary societal norms; Lauren Kelley-Oliver, Texas-based artist who uses stop-frame animation to confront the human condition; and Kellie Jones, Ph.D., art historian, critic, and award-winning curator for Now Dig This! (2011), the Johannesburg Biennale (1997) and São Paulo Bienal (1989).

Other noted participants include: Amber Kerr-Allison and Tiarna Doherty, painting conservator and chief of conservation, respectively, at the Smithsonian American Art’s Lunder Conservation Center, and Christiana Cunningham-Adams, restorer of the Aaron Douglas Murals at Fisk University.

In addition, attendees are invited to a Benefit Awards Gala from 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, in the Howard University Gallery of Art. This year, we honor the lifetime achievements of museum director and anthropologist, Johnnetta B. Cole, Ph.D., collector and philanthropist Robert E. Steele, Ph.D., and art historian and Howard alumnus Richard J. Powell, Ph.D.

For additional information, contact Gwendolyn H. Everett, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Art, by phone at 202-806-6171 or via e-mail at

The James A. Porter Colloquium was established at Howard University in 1990. It is named in honor of James A. Porter, the pioneering art historian and professor whose 1943 publication Modern Negro Art laid the foundation for the field of study. The Colloquium continues the Porter legacy through dynamic programming, scholarly research and artistic leadership. Past Colloquium presenters have included a number of leading scholars and artists, including David Driskell, Leslie King Hammond, Samella Lewis, Lowery Stokes Simms, Robert Farris Thompson, Salah Hassan, Franklin Sirmans, Mark Bradford, Deborah Willis, and Okwui Enwezor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Rachel Mann Communications Specialist 202.238.2631

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