Nikki Greene

Associate Professor of Art

Art historian examining African and African American identities, music, the body, feminism, and performance art from the 19th to the 21st century.

My book, Grime, Glitter, and Glass: The Body and The Sonic in Contemporary Black Art (Duke University Press, October 2024) presents a new interpretation of the work of Renée Stout, and Radcliffe Bailey, and María Magdalena Campos-Pons, and considers the intersection between the body, black identity, and the sonic possibilities of the visual using key examples of painting, sculpture, photography, performance, and installation. Grime, Glitter and Glass was awarded a Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant by the College Art Association.

Spring 2024, I am the curator of Taking the White Gloves Off: A Performance Art Series in Honor of Lorraine O'Grady ‘55, which features six multidisciplinary artists: Ayana Evans, Dominique Duroseau, Eleanor Kipping, M. Lamar, Tsedaye Makonnen, and Nyugen E. Smith to accompany the exhibition Lorraine O’Grady: Both/And. The invited artists, who first convened as the performance art cohort at the Lunder Institute for American Art’s 2023 Summer Think Tank at Colby College Museum of Art, will pay tribute to O’Grady’s legacy, with performances scheduled for February, March, and May on Wellesley’s campus. I have been awarded the RAP Fellowship at the Clark Art Institute for summer 2024 to further write and develop a traveling exhibition on Black feminist performance art.

I offer courses on the arts of the African Diaspora and contemporary art, including a survey of African Art, African-American Art, and the Arts of the African Diaspora. In spring 2023, I taught ARTH 316: “The Object of Performance: From Theory to Practice,” the Art Department’s first-ever seminar on performance art. My newest seminar, ARTH 314: “Lorraine O’Grady’55: Writer, Artist, Archivist,” is the first course to explore the biography and legacy of a living Wellesley College alumna. Three of my courses are designated Maurer Public Speaking Intensive. I am an affiliate faculty member in Africana Studies, Latin American Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies.

In January 2021, I served as a co-producer of When We Gather, a three-minute film based on an extraordinary vision by the 2023 MacArthur Fellow María Magdalena Campos-Pons who was moved by the election of Kamala Harris as Vice-President-elect of the United States and directed by the talented filmmaker Codie Elaine Oliver. Greene also wrote and hosted the accompanying online special broadcast, When We Gather: Together, a behind-the-scenes look at the film, meant to move people to join in a global celebration of women.

I served as an advisor to the ICA Boston for the 59th Venice Biennale presenting the work of Simone Leigh for the United States Pavilion in 2022. I held the Visiting Scholar position at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities at Brown University(2021-22), as one of the inaugural New England Humanities Consortium’s Faculty of Color Working Group Mellon Fellows. Other honors include the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Art and Africana Studies at Wellesley College, the Woodrow Wilson Career Advancement Fellowship, an artist residency in non-fiction writing at Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, the Richard D. Cohen Fellowship and the Afro-Latin American Research Institute’s (ALARI) Traveling Faculty Seminar to study Afro-Latin American Art History in the Americas (2020-2024), both at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. I am a former Visual Arts Editor of Transition magazine, published by the Hutchins Center.

My essays have appeared in American Studies Journal, Aperture, Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art, The Delaware Review of Latin American Studies, and WBUR Boston’s Cognescenti. I have also written for The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Guggenheim Museum, Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, among others.

I received my BA with honors from Wesleyan University, and Masters and Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Delaware. I served on the Board of Trustees for my alma mater, The Taft School, and currently serve on the Governance Board of The Trustees of Reservations. I proudly hail from Newark, New Jersey.

For more on my recent and upcoming publications and events, please visit my website at


  • B.A., Wesleyan University
  • M.A., University of Delaware
  • Ph.D., University of Delaware

Current and upcoming courses

  • This course considers a history of performance art, a genre that features time-based media, technologies, and the archive. The curriculum covers performance art through a global lens and emphasizes queer artists and artists of African, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous descent. This seminar prepares students to answer critical questions necessary for defining the field: What are the ethical, physical, and psychological quandaries that artists face from theory to practice in performance art? How does using the body as a medium challenge the “object-ness” of performance, and how does that impact its reception? What roles do artists, museums, cultural institutions, and their audiences play? What are the institutions' responsibilities for fundraising, staff support, and conservation of performance art? Students explore these questions along with key topics on ephemerality, experimentation, documentation, and audience reception to develop performance projects of their own.