Exhibition & Conference
September 8 - December 2, 2007 Spencer Museum of Art
The University of Kansas
Aaron Douglas:
African American Modernist
Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist Home Page Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist Exhibition 'Aaron Douglas and the Arts of the Harlem Renaissance' interdisciplinary conference - September 28-29, 2007 Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist

Conference Speakers

Keynote Address:
Richard J. Powell Richard J. Powell (Duke)
"Paint that Thing! Aaron Douglas and the Harlem Renaissance Call to Modernism"

Richard J. Powell is the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, where he has taught since 1989. He studied at Morehouse College and Howard University before gaining his doctorate in art history at Yale University. Along with teaching courses in American art, the arts of the African Diaspora, and contemporary visual studies, he has written extensively on topics ranging from primitivism to postmodernism, including such titles as Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson (W.W. Norton, 1991), Jacob Lawrence (Rizzoli, 1992), and Black Art: A Cultural History (Thames & Hudson, 1997 & 2002). His forthcoming book, Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture (Chicago, 2008), is about 19th, 20th, and 21st century portraits of peoples of African descent. Powell has also helped organize several art exhibitions, most notably: The Blues Aesthetic: Black Culture and Modernism (1989); Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance (1997); To Conserve A Legacy: American Art at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (1999); Beauford Delaney: The Color Yellow (2002); Circle Dance: The Art of John T. Scott (2005); and Conjuring Bearden (2006). Powell is a past recipient of two Ford Foundation Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, numerous Smithsonian Institution Fellowships and Grants, and a Fulbright Grant for Graduate Study Abroad, among other fellowships and grants. Beginning in 2007, Richard J. Powell became Editor-In-Chief of The Art Bulletin for a three-year term.

Historical/Cultural Context:
Gerald Early Gerald Early (Washington University, St. Louis), Hall Center for the Humanities Visiting Scholar
"The New Negro Movement and What It Wrought"

Gerald Early is the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters at Washington University in St. Louis. A noted essayist and American culture critic, Early is the author of several books, including The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism in 1994. He is also editor of numerous volumes, including This Is Where I Came In: Black America in the 1960s (2003); The Sammy Davis, Jr. Reader (2001); Miles Davis and American Culture (2001); The Muhammad Ali Reader (1998); Body Language: Writers on Sport (1998) and My Soul's High Song: The Collected Writings of Countee Cullen, Voice of the Harlem Renaissance (1991). He served as a consultant on Ken Burns' documentary films for PBS on baseball and jazz. Early received his Ph.D. in English literature from Cornell University.

Amy Kirschke Amy Kirschke (University of North Carolina, Wilmington)
"Aaron Douglas and the Harlem Renaissance: The Visual Rhetoric of Identity and Memory"

Amy Helene Kirschke is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. She is the author of Art in Crisis: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Struggle for African American Identity and Memory (2006); Carlton Wilkinson: Coming Home (2005); and Aaron Douglas: Art, Race, and the Harlem Renaissance (1995). She has written articles appearing in the International Journal of Africa American Art, Source, The African American Review, The Southern Quarterly, The Center for Visual Arts at the National Gallery, as well as exhibition catalogue essays and book chapters in the field of African American and African Art. Kirschke earned her Ph.D. from Tulane University.

Farah Jasmine Griffin Farah Jasmine Griffin (Columbia)
"Aaron Douglas and The Literary Luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance"

Farah Jasmine Griffin is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Griffin's major fields of interest are African American literature, music, history, and politics. She is the author of If You Can't Be Free Be A Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday (2001); Who Set You Flowin'?: The African American Migration Narrative (1995); the editor of Beloved Sisters and Loving Friends: Letters from Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus (1999); and co-editor of Stranger in the Village: Two Centuries of African American Travel Writing (1998). The recipient of numerous honors and awards for her teaching and scholarship, in 1996-97 Griffin was a fellow at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University.

Robert O'Meally Robert O'Meally (Columbia)
"Aaron Douglas's Concentric Circles: Kings and Queens of the Blues"

Robert O'Meally is the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University. His major interests are African American literature, music, and painting. He has written extensively on Ralph Ellison, including The Craft of Ralph Ellison (1980), and a collection of papers for which he served as editor, New Essays on Invisible Man (1989). O'Meally has written a biography of Billie Holiday entitled Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday and a documentary of the same name. He edited Tales of the Congaree (1990), a collection of black folk tales. He is a co-editor of the Norton Anthology of African American Literature and co-editor of History and Memory in African American Culture (1994). Recent projects include a monograph on painting, literature, and jazz, Seeing Jazz (1997); a five CD set with booklet, Jazz Singers (1997); and an edition of essays, The Jazz Cadence of American Culture (1998). He received his Ph.D. from Harvard.

Brenda Dixon Gottschild Brenda Dixon Gottschild (Temple, emerita)
"The Stories Pictures Tell: Dance Footprints in Selected Works of Aaron Douglas"

Brenda Dixon Gottschild is the author of Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance: Dance and Other Contexts (1996, 1998); Waltzing in the Dark: African American Vaudeville and Race Politics in the Swing Era (2000, winner of the 2001 Congress on Research in Dance Award for Outstanding Scholarly Dance Publication); and The Black Dancing Body - A Geography from Coon to Cool (2003, winner of the 2004 de la Torre Bueno prize for scholarly excellence in dance publication). She is Professor Emerita of dance studies at Temple University and a senior consultant and writer for Dance Magazine. She performs with her husband, choreographer Hellmut Gottschild, in an innovative form of somatic and research-based collaboration for which they coined the term, "movement theater discourse."

David Krasner David Krasner (Emerson College)
"Dark Tower and the Saturday Nighters: Two Directions in African American Drama"

David Krasner is Associate Professor of Performing Arts at Emerson College. His books include A Beautiful Pageant: African American Theatre, Drama, and Performance in the Harlem Renaissance, 1910-1920 (2002); Method Acting Reconsidered: Theory, Practice, Future (2000), and Resistance, Parody, and Double Consciousness in African American Theatre, 1895-1910 (1997, winner of the 1998 Errol Hill Award). Kraser recently edited A Blackwell Companion to Twentieth-Century American Drama (2004); and co-edited African American Performance and Theater History: A Critical Reader (2001, winner of the 2002 Errol Hill Award from the American Society for Theatre Research for the best book on African American Theatre and Performance). He is currently finishing Theatre in Theory: An Anthology, for Blackwell Press, and serves as the coeditor of the University of Michigan series Theater: Theory-Text-Performance. Krasner earned his Ph.D. from Tufts University

An Artist's Perspective:
Terry Adkins Terry Adkins (University of Pennsylvania)
"The Vigilant Torch of an Olympian Painter"

Terry Adkins is a sculptor and Associate Professor of Fine Arts in the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. Exhibiting internationally for over two decades, Adkins has work in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, both in New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, D.C.; and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; among many other institutions. He has received several awards and grants including the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture and the New York Foundation for the Arts Grant in Sculpture. In addition to being an accomplished visual artist, Adkins is also a musician and composer whose work was premiered by the New World Symphony in Miami in 2000. A graduate of Fisk University, where Aaron Douglas had been Chair of the art department, Adkins also earned an M.F.A. from the University of Kentucky.