Alvia Wardlaw ’69 is one of the country’s leading experts in African American art. She has been a major force in developing the field of African American Art history, and establishing its place in the larger discipline of American Art. Her two exhibitions and publications devoted to the Houston artist, John Biggers, and the ground-breaking 1989 show she co-curated, Black Art Ancestral Legacy: The African Impulse in African-American Art, brought new attention, appreciation and recognition to the previously little known, and largely ignored, African American accomplishments in the visual arts.
Wardlaw’s distinguished appointments and positions include:
Wardlaw is also well known in her field for the exhibition, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, a collection of quilts by outstanding quilters from Alabama. This exhibit traveled to 11 cities across the country from 2002-2006. Reviewers described the exhibit as “landmark” and “highly acclaimed” and it broke attendance records at major museums.
Another notable curatorship by Wardlaw was Something All Our Own: The Grant Hill Collection of African American Art. The illustrated catalogue for this collection included an essay by her on the history of African American art collections. This exhibit was on display at eight museums from 2003-2005
Wardlaw’s other notable exhibits and publications include:
Wardlaw has received numerous honors and awards including:
Wardlaw received a B.A. in Art History from Wellesley in 1969, followed by a M.A. in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University in 1986 and then a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996.
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