B.A., Wesleyan University; M.A., Ph.D., University of Delaware
Associate Professor of Art
Art historian examining African and African American identities, music, the body, and feminism in 20th century and contemporary art.
My forthcoming book, Grime, Glass, and Glitter: The Body and The Sonic in Contemporary Black Art (Duke University Press) presents a new interpretation of the work of Renée Stout, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, and Radcliffe Bailey, and considers the intersection between the body, black identity, and the sonic possibilities of the visual. My most recent publications examine abstract painting, photomontage, and performance art: “Vibrations in the Soul: Moe Brooker’s Sacred Paintings,” in Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art (Summer 2018); “Riffing the Index: Romare Bearden and the Hand of Jazz,” in Music, Art and Performance From Liszt to Riot Grrrl: The Musicalisation of Art, edited by Diane Silverthorne (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018); and “Habla LAMADRE: María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Carrie Mae Weems, and Black Feminist Performance,” in Beyond the Face: New Perspectives on Portraiture, edited by Wendy Wick Reeves (Giles, Ltd. in association with the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, 2018).
For WBUR’s Edify, I wrote about teaching art history in the digital age in “Beyond ‘Mona Lisa Smile’: Art, Race and Social Media on Campus,” based on my seminar, “The Body: Race and Gender in Modern and Contemporary Art,” for example, in an effort to break beyond the confines of the Wellesley College walls, we invested creative energy towards offering our ideas within a public forum vis-à-vis our class blog and Twitter. Combined with meeting artists and scholars on the topic, even virtually through Skype and Google Hangout, these avenues of communication allow students to process their readings within private and public spheres for richer class discussions and fruitful conversations beyond our seminar meetings.
I have traveled throughout the United States and internationally, including to Chile, England, Italy, and South Africa, to deliver lectures on the Arts of the African diaspora. In January 2013, I gave a series of lectures on African Art at the Alle School of Fine Arts and Design at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. I really enjoy taking my students on field trips to places like the Studio Museum in Harlem and PS1 in New York City or the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. My seminar recently took a trip to National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC to see the Obamas' portraits because I knew that it would be critical for my students to see Amy Sherld's and Kehinde Wiley's work in person for a course about the body. As I continue to travel to new locations for research and teaching opportunities, such as England and Cuba, I plan to incorporate the many lessons learned abroad into my curriculum as well.
I am the Visual Arts Editor of Transition magazine, published by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University (Indiana University Press). I am the recipient of the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Art and Africana Studies at Wellesley College, the Woodrow Wilson Career Advancement Fellowship, and the Richard D. Cohen Fellowship at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
I muse about my academic interests, travel, and the challenges of work-life balance in my blog nikkigphd.com