ACASA Award for Curatorial Excellence

The Award for Curatorial Excellence recognize the important contributions to the dissemination and understanding of African and African Diaspora Arts made through exhibitions.  Temporary exhibitions and permanent collection installations organized by museums, galleries, cultural centers, and exhibition spaces of all sorts are eligible. Three awards for curatorial excellence will be given.

Exhibition eligibility:  September 1, 2016 through August 30, 2019. Nominees must be ACASA members in good standing. Join ACASA

Criteria for consideration for this award include exhibitions that:

  • Generate new scholarship across the humanities
  • Open new perspectives on the field
  • Collaborate with and/or contribute to local or stakeholder communities
  • Demonstrate innovative approaches to exhibition design and presentation
  • Demonstrate innovative uses of technology

Submissions should be received by October 30, 2019 at epjones@arts.ucla.edu

2017  Awards for Curatorial Excellence

Karen E. Milbourne, Earth Matters, National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C., April 22, 2013 – March 2014

Jean Borgatti, Global Africa, Fitchburg Art Museum, November 2014 – August 2017

Antawan I. Byrd and Yves Chatap, [Re]Generations, Musée du District de Bamako, October 31 – December 31, 2015

In Memoriam: Marilyn Eiseman Heldman (1935-2019)

The loss of Marilyn Eiseman Heldman (June 12, 1935 – July 15, 2019) marks the passing of a brilliant scholar and generous colleague who pioneered the study of Ethiopian art. Her work on the illustrated manuscripts and devotional icons of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church examined issues of patronage, spirituality and inspiration.

Her 1972 PhD thesis on the Miniatures of the Gospels of Princess Zir Gānēlā, an Ethiopic Manuscript Dated A.D. 1400/01, is, to this day, the only work which provides an overview of all the illustrated features of medieval Ethiopic Gospel books. Covering a wide range of visual evidence, the study traces the pictorial sources and religious practices which shaped the work of Ethiopian illuminators active towards the turn of the fifteenth century.  She was among the first art historians to study historical devotional Ethiopian artworks with this kind of depth.

In her book, The Marian Icons of the Painter Frē Ṣeyon: A Study in Fifteenth-century Ethiopian Art, Patronage, and Spirituality, Heldman begins with a single work of art as a window into the religious paintings traditions of the mid 1400’s. Frē Ṣeyon, a monk from the monastery of Dabra Gwegweben, signed only one painting, but by comparing stylistic and iconographical characteristics to other mural and panel paintings, Heldman was able to assign an entire oeuvre of painting to this monk and to identify the Byzantine and Italian prototypes. 

Heldman was also much involved in the organization and catalogue of the exhibition African Zion: The Sacred Art of Ethiopia (1993). This landmark exhibition, which brought Ethiopian art to the attention of the American public, remains unsurpassed. The art historical essays in the catalogue, written by Heldman, combine clarity with academic rigour. It is also worth remembering that Heldman, in the second of her five essays in this volume, was the first scholar to suggest, on stylistic grounds, that the Garima Gospels were produced during late antiquity, a hypothesis that would be later confirmed by C-14 dating.

-Jacopo Gnisci and Peri Klemm

African Studies Association Awards

The African Studies Association is pleased to announce that they are accepting nominations for the following awards and prizes in 2019. All applications are due April 30, 2019.

The ASA Book Prize (Herskovits Prize) is awarded to the author of the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English during the preceding year..

The ASA Program Cover Art Prize recognizes the best artwork submitted that directly addresses the Annual Meeting theme. This year’s theme is “Being, Belonging, and Becoming in Africa”.

The ASA Film Prize recognizes an outstanding film, whether fiction or documentary, made in the preceding two calendar years by an African filmmaker.

The Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize is awarded to the author of the best book on East African Studies published in the previous calendar year.

The Distinguished Africanist Award recognizes a lifetime of distinguished contributions to African studies. Deadline for nominations: April 30.

The Paul Hair Prize is presented every two years and is awarded to the best critical edition or translation into English of primary source materials on Africa published during the preceding two years.

The Gretchen Walsh Book Donation Award offers an annual grant program to assist book donation projects with shipping costs to send books to African libraries and schools.