Lunder Institute Research Fellows
Art by African Americans
The Lunder Institute for American Art launched its inaugural Research Fellows program in September 2019. Each academic year, the Lunder Institute hosts a Distinguished Scholar and a group of Research Fellows at varying stages of their careers to pursue original scholarship around a topic of particular concern to the field of American art. As the Lunder Institute Distinguished Scholar and Director of Research, Tanya Sheehan (Colby College) is overseeing the inaugural program in 2019-2020, which focuses on work by African American artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Research Fellows include Anna Arabindan-Kesson (Princeton University), Adrienne L. Childs (Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University), Tess Korobkin (University of Maryland, College Park), Key Jo Lee (Cleveland Museum of Art), John Ott (James Madison University), and Rebecca VanDiver (Vanderbilt University).
The Research Fellows have put their current research into conversation with artworks in the Museum’s collection by landscape painter Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828-1901), multimedia artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988), figurative painter Bob Thompson (1937-1966) around whom the Museum is organizing a major exhibition in 2021, and contemporary artist-scholar David C. Driskell (b. 1931). Two additional artworks—an abstract painting by Norman Lewis (1909-1979) and a sculpture by Marion Perkins (1908-1961)—have been loaned to the Museum from the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art based in Austin, Texas. The Fellows’ research will develop throughout the academic year, assisted by four Colby students: Katie Herzig ’20, Olivia Hochstadt ’21, Jane MacKerron ’20, and Carter Wynne ’20.
The group convened on Colby’s campus November 13-16 to study their selected artworks, and meet with area artists and curators to enhance their research. They also participated in discussions on the state and parameters of the field we call African American art history; what constitutes its canon at this moment; and how and why academic scholars, curators, and artists distinguish art by African Americans from the broader field of American art.
The Fellows will return to campus in 2020 to share their research in a public symposium on March 13 and discuss future outcomes for their work. On the evening of March 12, the Lunder Institute and the Museum will host a conversation between David C. Driskell and Curlee R. Holton of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park.