ACASA ELECTION INFORMATION
With some ACASA Board members completing their terms this fall, elections will be held to fill their posts. The ACASA Board advocates the expansion of regional and disciplinary diversity in ACASA’s membership and Board of Directors, and this election’s slate of candidates reflects the commitment to this missive.
As an ACASA member, you are invited to vote for your choice of eight new Board members through an online voting system. To vote, sign in to the member area and select Elections 2015. This provides a link to the voting page, where you can follow instructions to cast your ballot for eight candidates. The system will record that you have voted, but your responses remain anonymous. For your reference, candidate statements are accessible under Elections 2015.
Voting will be open from November 2 – November 16, 2015. New board members will be announced at the 2015 ASA Conference.
Kate Ezra was joined by ACASA members Karen Von Veh and Barbara Plankensteiner on the Nomination Committee for the 2015 election cycle.
ACASA Board of Directors: Candidate Statements
Candidate Statement: Yaëlle Biro
Associate Curator for African Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, To see her CV, click here
I would be honored to be considered for a position on the ACASA Board. Trained as an art historian at the Sorbonne in Paris, I received my PhD in 2010. My research focused on the circulation and trade of works from Africa at the turn of the 20th century and the shift in their aesthetic appreciation in the West during that era. I first arrived in New York from France in 2006 to work as a Research Assistant for the Arts of Africa at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and became a curator at that institution in 2010. I have participated as a researcher, coordinator, co-curator, or curator in every African arts exhibition organized at the Met Museum since then. In 2012, I transformed my PhD research into the exhibition African Art, New York, and the Avant-Garde which was honored by an Award for Excellence of the Association of American Museum Curators. Most recently, in 2015, I curated two exhibitions focusing on photography in Africa: In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa (with Giulia Paoletti); and The Aftermath of Conflict: Jo Ractliffe’s Photographs of Angola and South Africa (with Evelyn Owen).
Coming from Europe, I discovered the sense of scholarly community that existed in our field through ACASA: it was the first professional association I joined and the opportunity to experience it in person came with the Los Angeles Triennial in 2011. I grasped the importance of this platform as a place where researchers in every capacity and from every generation could meet and exchange. This was something I had never experienced in France and I didn’t even know existed during my fairly isolated years as a student there. ACASA, as the leading platform of exchange in our field, has the mission and potential to reach beyond its primarily north-American constituency: “American” is not one of the “A” in ACASA. As an active Twitter user (@yaellebiro, tweeting about African Arts at the Met), I believe in the power of social media as a way of changing the way ACASA communicates about its mission as well as its constituency’s activities and research: a more active online community means a more engaged and wider community. My experience as a Volunteer Coordinator during the 2014 ACASA Triennial at the Brooklyn Museum would be particularly valuable as the 2017 Triennial in Ghana is approaching. Making use of my skills and experience by joining the Board at this important moment would be a privilege.
Candidate Statement: Mark Dike DeLancey
Associate Professor, Department of History of Art and Architecture, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois, To see his CV, click here
It is an honor to be considered for a position on the ACASA board. I have been a member of ACASA since the late 1990s and would like to contribute what I can to this organization.
I am Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture at DePaul University in Chicago, IL where I have taught since 2006, before which I taught at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA for three years. I completed my BA at Oberlin College in art history and studio art, and my A.M. and Ph.D. are from Harvard University in history of art and architecture, with specialties in both African and Islamic art history. Since arriving at DePaul, I have served on the advisory boards for the African and Black Diaspora Program, the Center for Black Diaspora, and the Islamic World Studies Program. I furthermore served as the chair of DePaul’s General Education committee in charge of Arts and Literature courses. In terms of service outside DePaul, I was elected to a 1 year position to establish the organizational essentials for the recently refounded North American Association of Scholars on Cameroon (NAASC), which had been defunct since the early 1990s. I have been principally responsible for writing a draft constitution to be voted on at the 2015 ASA meeting, maintaining and expanding a membership roster, and acquiring and managing a listserv through DePaul computing services.
As a scholar, my research has focused on palace architecture in northern Cameroon. I am particularly interested in the intersection between political systems and architecture, sedentary and nomadic societies, and Islamic and non-Islamic cultures. I have published articles in Cahiers d’études africaines, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Islamic Africa, and a book is forthcoming from Brill Press in 2016. Also forthcoming are a chapter on equestrian arts in northern Cameroon in an edited text entitled Art and Sovereignty, and a special issue of African Arts on the Cameroon Grassfields that I am editing. Additionally, I have opened a new area of research interest on manuscript arts and calligraphy in Mauritania. This new research interest not only opens up another region of the continent, but also introduces me to a new medium and the distinct research methodologies appropriate to it.
In addition to conducting research in Cameroon and Mauritania, I worked on an archaeological excavation in Tunisia, and was co-leader of a six-week study-abroad trip to Ghana from James Madison University. I am currently organizing a study-abroad trip in Oman for DePaul students starting December 2016 that will focus on the interplay of Indian Ocean cultures in this country. I have also lived in Nigeria, Somalia, and Egypt, where I completed a year abroad at American University in Cairo focusing on Islamic architecture and Arabic language. I therefore have a broad view of the African continent and its artistic heritage.
As a member of the ACASA board, I would of course look forward to lending my energy, organizational skills, and creativity to preparing for the next triennial event. I also hope to continue ACASA’s push for representation at other academic conferences both within the US and elsewhere in the world. In particular, whatever the organization can do to encourage the study of African art in Africa itself is of great value. Holding the triennial in Ghana is one important step in this direction, but could be furthered through various forms of partnerships with universities and institutions across the continent. A vital aspect of such assistance to scholars and institutions within the continent is the creation of reliable funding for bringing African scholars to our triennials. To my mind, two of the most important functions of this organization should be to support our colleagues in Africa, as well as to encourage young scholars just entering the field.
Candidate Statement: Jordan A. Fenton
Assistant Professor of Art History
Miami University, Ohio, To see his CV, click here
I am honored by the nomination to the Arts Council of the African Studies Association Executive Board. Since my graduate school days, ACASA and its members were always supportive and nurturing to younger, developing scholars like myself. It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to give back to an association that has given me much over the years, especially during this exciting time as ACASA prepares for its first Triennial in Africa.
I received an M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History from Kent State University in 2007 and the University of Florida in 2012, respectively. My research and fieldwork in Nigerian art examines the ways in which Calabar men’s secret masquerade associations, performance, ritual, and esoteric knowledge systems (specifically nsibidi) function and flourish in an urban milieu. Beyond these interests, I am also currently exploring the economics of African art and the hermeneutics and multiple meanings in Africa visual and performed culture. I also actively present my research and organize panels for ACASA, ASA, and other professional conferences, and most recently, I chaired an ACASA sponsored panel at the 2015 CAA meeting.
This fall, I started my new position at Miami University, Ohio, as Assistant Professor of Art History in the Department of Art. Previously, for the past four years, I was on faculty at the Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University. My service at Kendall has prepared me to be a successful board member. My participation and leadership in university forums such as committees, senate hearings, and implementation of global awareness initiatives and educational forums demonstrate my interest to serve. For the 2013-2014 academic year, for example, I led the “Beyond” initiative, a college and university-wide project promoting diversity, global awareness, and study abroad learning integrated into curriculums across campus departments and programs. I also served as co-chair for Kendall’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee as well as the Visiting Artist Committee.
My research and institutional activities validate my commitment to serve ACASA, its mission, community, and constituents. If elected Treasurer, I promise to carryout the position and its duties with the upmost care and integrity. Similar to ACASA’s mission, I too value meaningful interaction, collaboration, and the development of educational initiatives to all those vested and interested in the expressive culture of Africa and its Diaspora. If elected to the position of Treasurer, I am interested in continuing to build on the efforts of the Council’s founders and previous board members, continue fundraising efforts, broaden the international scope and membership, bridge any remaining gaps between older and younger scholars, keep members informed and current with the Council’s budget and continue to explore international venues for the Triennial symposium on African art.
Candidate Statement: Cecile Fromont
Assistant Professor of Art History and the College Ferris State University,
University of Chicago, To see her CV, click here
I would be happy to serve on the ACASA board of directors. I am an assistant professor in the department of art history at the University of Chicago. I received my doctorate in 2008 from Harvard before becoming a postdoctoral scholar at the Michigan Society of Fellows. My work focuses on central Africa between 1500 and 1800 and its relationship with the wider early modern world, as explored for example in my book The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo, published in 2014 with UNC Press. My research takes me to Angola, Congo, and Brazil as well as archives and museums in Europe and the Americas.
I have been fortunate to benefit greatly in the past from the activities and resources of ACASA and I would like to work as a board member to help ensure the continued growth of the association and of the opportunities and services it provides its members.
As a member of the board I would work towards ACASA’s goal to create and reinforce the links between its members in Africa, Europe, and the America, through the possibilities offered by new technologies such as web-based roundtables, seminars, or discussion boards. I also would like to work towards new ways to showcase the research of early career Africanists for example with the creation of ACASA sponsored “emerging scholars” panels at conferences such as CAA, ECAS, or ASA. Finally, I know that many of us travel at least on occasion with our families to these professional meetings, and I would like the board to support the creation of “family and accompaniers resource lists” that could include local family friendly attractions, offer a platform to organize playdates, or propose family oriented activities around the meeting.
Candidate Statement: Amanda Gilvin
Visiting Assistant Professor, Skidmore College, a, To see her CV, click here
Thank you for considering me for a position on the Arts Council of the African Studies Association Board. I am eager to contribute to our organizations’ new initiatives. As a researcher, educator, and curator, I would bring well-honed organizational skills, and most importantly, a commitment to strengthening ACASA’s networks throughout Africa. I recently completed a Mellon Five College Postdoctoral Fellowship in African Art and Architecture at Mount Holyoke College and Smith College, and I am now a Visiting Assistant Professor at Skidmore College.
I came to the study of African art as an undergraduate, when I learned to make glass beads at the workshop of Nomoda “Cedi” Djaba in Odumase-Krobo, Ghana in the late 1990s. Maintaining this perspective of a maker, I pursued my interests in gender, consumption, and global exchange in West Africa during graduate school, and I completed my dissertation on Nigerien art in 2012.
In my writing and curatorial work, I analyze diverse arts, with an emphasis on textiles, fashion, and contemporary art. I am also interested in museums and other exhibitions, especially in Africa. My book manuscript, Mining Beauty: Art and Development in Niger, emphasizes art education and artists’ perspectives in a historical account of visual arts in Niger since 1960. As part of all of my research projects, I have sought out collaborations with African artists, arts professionals, and institutions. My close work with the Musée National Boubou Hama in Niamey, Niger inspired my new project, Seeing Citizenry: New Museums in Africa, a comparative study of five new African museums that feature contemporary art.
My leadership roles in editorial and curatorial projects have prepared me well for the administrative work of the ACASA Board. I regularly collaborate with Africanist colleagues in other disciplines and art historians in other subfields, and I would like to help increase ACASA’s profile among other Africanists and art historians. My professional circles include colleagues throughout North America, Europe, and Africa. I wish to add to the momentum begun by the current ACASA Board’s commitment to expand ACASA membership and leadership to include more scholars based in Africa and/or working in languages other than English. I am especially excited to help plan the 2017 ACASA Triennial in Ghana, for which I would take special interest in facilitating attendance by as many museum professionals and artists from around Africa as possible.
Candidate Statement: Cory K. Gundlach
Ph.D. Candidate, Art History (ABD), School of Art and Art History. University of Iowa
Associate Curator, African and Non-Western Art, University of Iowa Museum of Art, To see his CV, click here
It is my pleasure to submit to you this letter of interest to serve on the ACASA board. As an ACASA member, PhD student (ABD) in African art history, and Associate Curator of African and Non-Western art at the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA), my academic training and professional experience enables me to bring strong contributions to the ACASA board.
I propose to serve as ACASA Newsletter Editor. While working as Exhibit Designer for the Fort Collins Museum (now the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery) from 2004 to 2010, I designed the museum newsletter on a quarterly basis with Adobe Creative Suite. I also have regularly used this software for my research papers in graduate school.
While working as Curatorial Research Assistant in African and Non-Western art at UIMA from 2012 to 2014, I used Adobe CS and SilverStripe to organize, edit, and upload all content for the Art & Life in Africa (ALA) website. If needed, I may be able to also assist ACASA with website coordination.
In addition to my design and editorial experience with museum newsletters and the ALA website, I bring five years of graduate research and writing in African art history, expertise on Lobi art in particular, and strong connections with important collectors of Lobi art in Europe and the U.S. Finally, my current curatorial position greatly enhances my ability to support the communicative and educational mission of ACASA.
Thank you very much for your consideration of my proposal. It would be my honor to serve on the board for this prestigious organization.
Candidate Statement: Shannen Hill
Senior Fellow, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Associate Curator for African Art and Department Head, Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia and Pacific Islands
Baltimore Museum of Art, To see her CV, click here
I have found great pleasure serving on ACASA’s Executive Board these last three years and, given the considerable challenges afoot, I seek re-election for another term. Many of you know me as the current Secretary and Treasurer of ACASA. In this capacity, I have fielded thousands of requests and kept a steady eye on matters both administrative and financial. Our membership and ambitions have grown considerably since ACASA’s founding in 1981, thus among my goals as Secretary/Treasurer was to divide that post in two. With the current election this goal has been realized. A second ambition — to enable credit/debit cards on our site and thus do away with reliance on a costly third party — will soon be achieved (our programmer is testing and fine tuning his work now). Regarding our upcoming Triennial at the University of Ghana in Accra: I have, together with our triad of presidents, evaluated every line and detail of contract negotiations; I also currently sit on the Fundraising Committee formed to assure the symposium’s success.
Serving ACASA is a valuable experience and I find that I have more I would like to achieve for our collective. If elected, I aim to establish an annual scholarship for dissertators that emphasizes rural and collections based fieldwork (but is not strictly limited to these) since the trend toward modern and contemporary arts these past twenty years has left our field with fewer concentrations in these areas. For this I seek to establish an endowment and will actively fundraise to that end. I also aim to double our annual conference offerings by establishing an “Emerging Scholars” panel at both the College Art Association and the African Studies Association. This will heighten ACASA’s visibility and assure younger colleagues have space to present their research at an important point in their careers. On the other end of the spectrum, I would like to enhance our award offerings at the Triennial Symposium so that colleagues who have achieved much outside of publishing are honored. Excellence in arts activism, curatorial vision, service, and teaching should be acknowledged and awarded.
I am a hard working individual who rarely leaves a stone unturned. I have many years experience as a professor, researcher, administrator and am now new to the curatorial field. I am currently both a Senior Fellow at the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, where I am at work developing a book about the visual histories of gold and diamond mining in South Africa, and Associate Curator and Head of Department, Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia and Pacific Islands, Baltimore Museum of Art. The University of Minnesota Press released my book Biko’s Ghost: The Iconography of Black Consciousness last spring. My most substantive body of work to date, it challenges non-racialist assumptions and uncovers the lasting influence of a political stance long censored.
Candidate Statement: Courtnay Micots
Assistant Professor of Art History, Florida A & M University, To see her CV, click here
I am honored to be nominated for the Arts Council of the African Studies Association Board of Directors. I have taken part in ACASA since the early 1990s, when I was pursuing my Masters degree at Cleveland State University and became inspired to specialize in African art under the tutelage of Kathy Curnow and experience of the seminal exhibition Yoruba: Nine Centuries of Art and Thought. I am excited about this chance to give back to the organization that has offered me so many opportunities for scholarly exchange and networking, through newsletters, symposia, and website support.
After receiving my Masters degree in 1992, I worked in museums as an intern, researcher and curator with stints at the National Museum for African Art (Washington, DC), Michael C. Carlos Museum (Emory University, Atlanta, GA) the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art (Gainesville, FL), and most recently at the Wits Arts Museum (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa) as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow. Additionally, I have taught art history at Florida Southern College (Lakeland), the University of Florida, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, the University of South Florida (Tampa), Elon University (Elon, North Carolina), and for the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana in Legon. I have participated, presented and served as a panel co-chair at numerous ACASA symposia. At the last symposium in New York, I presented my paper “African Colonial Architecture in Coastal Ghana: Loving or Hating Britain?” Additionally, I received an ACASA travel grant to support conference travel, and I look forward to ensuring this support remains a vibrant source for international scholarly outreach.
I am keenly interested in joining the ACASA team to contribute to the successful and smooth running of the 17th Triennial Symposium in Accra, Ghana in 2017. I will bring my talents as an art historian, specialist in Ghanaian coastal arts, and meeting planner to this project. My research has concentrated on Fante arts that express cross-cultural political and social contexts. I have spent more than two years in Ghana spread over six separate visits. My article, “Status and Mimicry: African Colonial Period Architecture on the Gold Coast” was published in the March 2015 issue of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. “Carnival in Ghana: Fancy Dress Street Parades and Competition” was published in African Arts in the spring 2014 issue. Prior to entering the PhD program at the University of Florida in 2006, and interspersed between my contract positions at museums, I served in administrative and financial roles in corporate Atlanta, working primarily in healthcare. I have experience developing and managing national conferences with multiple panels, banquets and evening entertainment for more than 300 participants.
The diversity of my work experience and my knowledge of Ghana will enable me to make a significant contribution to ACASA’s many projects, both ongoing and in development. After having spent so many years outside traditional academia, I have the practical knowhow to assist and a strong sympathy for members who struggle to participate in research and symposia abroad. I look forward to providing an engaging forum for exchange between colleagues in America, Europe, Africa and elsewhere.
Candidate Statement: Margaret Nagawa
Curator, Art Educator, and Artist, Uganda, To see her CV, click here
As a reputable organization dedicated to the study of African arts, ACASA attracts the best minds in this field. I would like to be part of, contribute to, and perhaps broaden, disciplinary conversations.
I am particularly interested in the Council’s mission that “encourages contact and collaboration with African and Diaspora artists.” As an artist and curator educated in Uganda and England, I see myself contributing with enthusiasm to connections between artists, objects and researchers in a multitude of digital and physical ways. My experience in art practice, art education, curating and blogging, has equipped me with leadership roles that require strong communication skills, hard work, enthusiasm, and a joy in what I attempt to do. I value teamwork and also understand the challenges it presents. For me, solo studio work, reading, and writing provide a counterbalance to the intensity presented by collaboration.
Past board service experience has been with the 32° East / The Ugandan Arts Trust (http://ugandanartstrust.org) Board, contributing to short and long term planning, and negotiating differences of opinion that inevitably arise. I have presented papers at conferences including at the 2014 ACASA Triennale at the Brooklyn Museum, led art studio tours, and organised arts discussion evenings in Kampala and Addis Ababa. I headed a gallery committee made up of Makerere University Art School lecturers to program Makerere Art Gallery (https://makerereartgallery.wordpress.com) events, and been Chair of the Uganda Artists Association (now known as UVADA https://www.facebook.com/UVADAUganda), where I worked with a team of executive members to program and run events for, and by, artists in collaboration with galleries and other arts agencies.
Given the opportunity, it will be an honour to serve on the ACASA Board working with the website coordinating team.
Candidate Statement: Leslie W. Rabine
Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies and French, University of California, Davis, To see her CV, click here
As a newcomer from literary criticism to African arts, I found a most welcoming and stimulating professional home in ACASA. At every conference, lively original panels have opened me to new areas of learning. I’ve been given opportunities to collaborate, in ways I had never expected, with scholars from academia, museums and galleries. After many fulfilling collaborations with members of ACASA, I am now, to my surprise and delight, a member of a curatorial team for a museum exhibition on African print fashion. Given my gratitude to ACASA, whose members have so warmly included me, I have wanted to contribute to the achievements of this organization. Therefore, I am enthusiastic about running for the Board. Now Professor Emerita at the University of California, Davis, I have been doing research on African fashion and art since the 1990s. For my book The Global Circulation of African Fashion (Berg, 2002), I did research with tailors, dressmakers, designers and dyers in Senegal, Kenya and African diasporic communities in Los Angeles and New York. My research since has focused on the historic reciprocal influences of fashion, photography and politics in Francophone West Africa, and more recently, on youth movements creatively engaged in graffiti art, streetwear design and new media. My interests have always concerned processes of creativity and the ways that African artists have dedicated their creative work to building civic engagement and social change. Another interest concerns the ways that artists and designers disseminate fashions, photographic styles, and graffiti practices across Africa as well as between continental and diasporic African communities. My projects have traced the paths through which artists, by exchanging across African cultures, creatively transform their work and their own home cultures. Although most of my research now takes place in Senegal, many graffiti artists from across Africa and the African diaspora come to Senegal. This has permitted me to study graffiti artists from different African cultures transforming and enriching each other’s African imaginaries, artistic practices and social consciousness. As for experience relevant to the ACASA Board, I have served on several public and non-profit Boards, and have held academic administrative positions. This includes serving as Chair of the French Department, Director of Women’s Studies and Associate Dean of Humanities at the University of California. Currently, I am Vice-President of the Board of Hospitality House, an organization fostering artistic creativity among dispossessed and homeless people in San Francisco. My web skills would also allow me to help with the website and newsletter. In ACASA I would like to: increase efforts to furnish travel funds for scholars from Africa; develop collaborative research endeavors between scholars in America and Africa; work to balance inclusion of Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone African countries in our activities.
Candidate Statement: Ciraj Rassool
Professor of History and Director of Museum and Heritage Studies, University of Western Cape, South Africa, To see his CV, click here
I am an African scholar of museums as sites and spaces that have capacities to broaden democracy and critical citizenship. Much of my own research in South Africa in the last 10-15 years has been about the transformation of old museums, and their legacies of classification, racial formation and the denial of coevalness, as well as of making new museums outside of these categories and discourses, some of which are geared towards reconstructing community after apartheid. In the cases of the former and the latter, my work has joined that of others concerned to reconceptualise museums and heritage initatives as projects and processes of knowledge production and transaction. In recent years, my own research has increasingly begun to ask questions about the connections between the creative and curatorial work of artists and other aspects of museum production, especially when this work has sought to document social experience or intervene in the name of protest or resistance art. I have also become interested in in how the work of artists can intervene in rethinking and redirecting ethnographic museums and collections. In addition, I am concerned to find new platforms for integrating debates about art history and aesthetic practice with other aspects of cultural production and museum formation and heritage transformation, as we seek new spaces of engagement and knowledge transaction that advance critical citizenship. In my own practice, I have been a councillor and trustee (and chairperson) of the District Six Museum and Iziko Museums of South Africa (inter alia), and have worked on the African continent as chair of the scientific committee of the International Council of African Museums. I have been director of the African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies at UWC, the most important site of education of African museum professionals for 18 years. I have also worked closely with museums and memory projects in Europe and North America that have been concerned to rethink their African legacies and histories and refashion their relations with their publics. Recently as part of a partnership with colleagues in Ghana and the University of Michigan in the United States, I co-edited The Politics of Heritage in Africa, as a direct intervention in the practice of heritage in Africa. As part of this partnership, I have spent time in Ghana at the University of Ghana, Legon and at different sites of heritage and cultural production in different locations in Ghana.
Candidate Statement: Christopher Richards
Assistant professor of African art history and museum education at Brooklyn College, To see his CV, click here
I am honored and excited regarding my nomination for a position on the ACASA executive board. I have been an enthusiastic and active participant in ACASA activities since I attended my first ACASA conference as a Masters student. I eagerly await each future ACASA conference, relishing the opportunity to engage with our cohort of diverse and thought-provoking scholars. I am extremely passionate about our organization and would work diligently to continue to provide members with a dynamic, collegial and supportive organization.
I am currently an assistant professor of African art history and museum education at Brooklyn College. Prior to my professorship, I was a Mellon post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for the Creative Arts of Africa and the Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa. I completed my PhD at the University of Florida on the cultural significance of historical and contemporary fashion in Accra, Ghana. This year, I guest-curated my first exhibition, Kabas and Couture: Contemporary Ghanaian Fashion, at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art and co-curated the exhibition Beadwork, Art and the Body: Dilo Tše Dintši/Abundance at the Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa. My experiences in academia and museums provides me with the ability to interact and collaborate with scholars in both areas and to be inclusive of all forms of research relating to African art. I pride myself on being incredibly approachable and collegial, two qualities I believe are important for ACASA board members. These experiences also attest to my ability to productively collaborate with other scholars, a quality that is imperative for an ACASA board member.
I am particularly interested in strengthening ACASA’s international connections and presence. Having established strong connections with artists and art historians in South Africa, I believe I can continue to encourage participation from international members and hopefully foster stronger relationships with specific geographic regions.
Lastly, as a scholar of Ghanaian art and culture, I am particularly well-suited to serve as a board member for ACASA’s upcoming conference in Ghana. I have a strong knowledge of Accra and can assist in coordinating specific events and venues for ACASA attendees. As the planning for the next triennial moves forward, my conversancy in Twi would undoubtedly be an asset to the board. Thank you for your consideration and I hope to share my expertise, cheerfulness and enthusiasm with all of you as a future ACASA board member.
Candidate Statement: Deborah Stokes
Curator for Education, National Museum of African Art, To see her CV, click here
It is a sincere pleasure to have the opportunity to submit my statement of interest in serving on the ACASA Board. Being a member of the organization and having attended and participated in ACASA Triennials for many years, I have supported the mission of ACASA in promoting greater understanding of African material and expressive culture in all its many forms through my research, teaching, publications, conference participation, and current work as Curator for Education, Head of K-12 and Teacher Development at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African art (NMAfA).
As a component of my current museum work, I develop and create materials for museum exhibitions, grants, and websites, as detailed in my CV. I have enthusiastically embraced digital technology. For more than a decade I have been developing on-line materials and various delivery formats for teaching African art. My award-winning Distance Learning program at NMAfA has increased opportunities for audience involvement in museum programs and learning. I continue to actively correspond with students, scholars, and artists in sharing ideas, developing creative partnerships, and reaching national and international audiences.
I have had many opportunities to meet with and collaborate with African and Diaspora artists and scholars. I have conducted research in Nigeria, Kenya, Haiti, and most recently South Africa. My work in the late 70s and early 80s in Nigeria focused on documenting and photographing the traditional carvers of Yorubaland. I was fortunate to be able to conduct field research alongside William B. Fagg, former Keeper at the Museum of Mankind in London. I co-compiled the William B. Fagg Photographic Archive (see archives production) along with a full transcription of his field notebooks. More recently, in 2007, I worked with Robai Nafuna, a potter in Bituyu village in the town of Kimili in the Western Province of Kenya. In addition, I photographed contemporary popular art both in rural and urban settings in Kenya, Haiti, and South Africa. I taught the Visual Art of Africa, and Issues in Contemporary African Art in the Art History Department at the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC), and have published in the peer-review journal, African Arts (see publications). I am up to date on current research and debates and have conducted seminar classrooms of twelve and have lectured to three hundred.
I currently am on the Editorial Board of the National Arts Education Association Journal and have served as a field grant reviewer for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). I would very much like to contribute and would be honored to serve on the ACASA Board. With my cumulative and extensive experience over the past four decades, I would be especially interested in helping with or assuming the role of Newsletter Editor.
Candidate Statement: Liese van der Watt
Independent Scholar, London, To see her CV, click here
I am putting myself forward for the ACASA board, either to be a general member, or to serve on the executive board as secretary – if this is deemed possible from a location in London.
Having moved to London in 2007 after teaching Art History at the University of Cape Town, I have been an independent writer and researcher for the last couple of years. While my PhD research (as a Fulbright Scholar at SUNY Stony Brook) and much of my subsequent research was on specifically South African art, my base in London has radically expanded my scope and brought me in contact with a much broader sample of African art and artists. I am now more active in researching and writing on contemporary African – as opposed to solely South African – art. This year, for instance, as reviewer and critic for various art magazines, I have attended the Venice Biennial, wrote on two Congolese exhibitions in London and Paris, and will be attending Paris Photo in a month’s time.
In addition to these more popular forms of writing I have maintained my academic profile by participating in various conferences, and continuing my research with contributions to scholarly journals and books.
Should I be a member of the ACASA board, I would hope to be part of an ever-expanding international body of scholars working on and promoting African art. ACASA is often seen to be American-based and American-dominated and I am pleased that the next triennial conference will be in Africa. My links with South Africa, in particular, is still very strong – I remain a member of SAVAH (South African Visual Art Historians) – and I think it is crucial to keep expanding the African presence at ACASA. But in addition, perhaps there are also ways to expand the ACASA member base further into Europe; perhaps a future conference could be in Europe?
With my on-going links to South Africa and being based in Europe, I would be prepared to work on strategies to increase ACASA’s presence and visibility outside of the USA. In addition, it will be an exciting opportunity to work with an extensive community of African art scholars in order to foster and support African expressive and visual cultures further.
Candidate Statement: Tobias Wofford
Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Art History, Santa Clara University, To see his CV, click here
I am an art historian and educator whose research focuses on the global dimensions of Africa and its diasporas in modern and contemporary art. Through scholarship, teaching, and curatorial work, I have grappled with the beauty and complexities of African and diaspora visual culture. I study the history of global networks of scholars and artists interested in the creation, study, and display of African art in the 20th century and I participate in today’s artistic network as an organizer of conference panels, researcher, and audience member.
I know that my endeavors would be impossible without organizations like ACASA. It provides a vital network that connects artists, scholars, and museum professionals around the world. Further, it provides a necessary space for the sharing of knowledge, art, and support. As a member of the board, I would like to see that continue and grow. I believe in ACASA’s dedication to promoting the global perspective of its membership as seen in the plans to hold the 2017 Triennial Symposium in Ghana. Especially with the growing role digital media plays in education and art display, ACASA should continue to use technology to increase its role in strengthening existing connections and welcoming new perspectives. The potential for the medium in providing artistic and scholarly resources, expanding membership, and encouraging active participation worldwide cannot be understated.
I’m honored to be considered for ACASA’s board of directors and look forward to supporting our organization’s crucial mission.