“An Idyll of the South:
Art as a Barometer of Cultural Dynamics”
This lecture will examine the critical contributions of Black artists of the South to the cultural dialog which continues in the diverse community that is America. Ranging from the works of artists whose names are largely unknown from the period of slavery in the America to Harlem Renaissance artists such as Aaron Douglas and Charles Alston, to Civil Rights activist artists such as Murray DePillars and Elizabeth Catlett, to contemporary artists such as Kara Walker, Howardena Pindell, Mel Edwards, and Chakia Booker, the development of the "visual voice" of African American artists who interpret and project the Southern experience through a decidedly Afrocentric perspective will be the focus of the presentation. In addition to examining individual artists, the contributions of southern community institutions and HBCUs will be examined to clearly define their roles in creating cultural art spaces for African American artists. Finally, a brief selection of exhibitions developed by African American curators, will complete the discussion by indicating how the ideas, creative impulses, and collaborative expressions of Black artists flow fully into the 21st century.
Dr. Alvia J. Wardlaw is Director/Curator of the University Museum at Texas Southern University and Professor of Art History and Museum Studies at TSU's Department of Visual and Performing Arts. Wardlaw served for over two decades as Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston while concurrently teaching at Texas Southern. Her publications and exhibitions include Black Art-- Ancestral Legacy: The African Impulse in African American Art; View from the Upper Room: The Art of John Biggers; The Quilts of Gees Bend, and Notes from a Childhood Odyssey: The Art of Kermit Oliver. Dr. Wardlaw currently serves on the boards of the Orange Show Foundation and the Emancipation Park Conservancy. She is also an honorary trustee for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and is on the Advisory Board for the Blaffer Museum of Art at the University of Houston. Wardlaw recently completed a six-year term as alumnae trustee for her alma mater Wellesley College. In 2010, Wardlaw was awarded the Wellesley College Alumnae Achievement Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of American art. In the fall of 2021, Dr. Wardlaw was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Arts Leadership by the Art League Houston. Her passion continues to be the hands-on mentoring of students of color to achieve success in the field of the arts as both artists and as impactful professionals in the museum world.