Newsletter Issue:

Symposium: The Question of “Africanness” and the Expanded Field of Sculpture (part two)

Please join IDSVA and the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria on October 29, 2022 at 11am EDT / 5pm SAST. Zoom link here.

Featuring presentations by Melvin Edwards (USA) and Curlee R. Holton (USA). Moderated by Prof George Smith (USA)

This talk continues from part one, where artists and academics Olu Oguibe and Johan Thom revealed "Africanness" as a productive site from which the expanded field of sculpture continues to spread its light across many cultures. Already in 1993 in the essay "The Heart of Darkness", Olu Oguibe had insisted that “to discuss the ‘problems’ of modernity and modernism in Africa is simply to buy into existing structures of reference which not only peculiarize modernity in Africa but also forebode crisis.” Oguibe then proceeded to show us just how much light emanates from the ever-expanding field of contemporary sculpture via its encounter with "Africanness." By way of the poetic expression of "Africanness", as it might manifest itself in sculptural performativity, Thom showed what might exist beyond the limits of philosophical language and gave us a glimpse of the sculptural field’s infinite meaning in the visual form of a pendular brick.

In part 2, the question of "Africanness" will be discussed from a diasporic perspective. American sculptor Melvin Edwards will join the American master printmaker Curlee Holton. Holton serves as the Director of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora, University of Maryland. Edwards resides in the US and in Dakar, Senegal. Over the past several decades, Edwards has collected the junkyard detritus of the military-industrial complex and transformed these disconnected and discarded emblems of technological dominance and racial oppression into prophetic expressions of the human spirit. In doing so, Edwards takes the field of sculpture deep into the African diaspora’s traumatic past. Distinguished American printmaker, artist, and poet Curlee Holton came to the David Driskell Center by way of his longstanding working relationship with his close friend, David Driskell. Under Holton’s leadership, the Driskell Center has come into its own as a site wherein the expanded field of sculpture represents endless possibilities. This development is particularly apparent in the commission of Mel Edwards as the sculptor to design the David Driskell Memorial.

Gabi Ngcobo, renowned Curatorial Director of the Javett-UP Art Centre, will conduct the welcome and introductions. George Smith, Edgar E. Coons, Jr. Professor of New Philosophy and founder and president of IDSVA, will serve as moderator.

Melvin Edwards is a pioneer in the history of contemporary African American art and sculpture. Born in Houston, Texas, he began his artistic career at the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, CA, where he was mentored by the Hungarian painter Francis de Erdely. In 1965, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA, organized his first solo exhibition. Edwards then moved to New York City in 1967. Shortly after his arrival, his work was exhibited at The Studio Museum in Harlem. In 1970, he became the first African American sculptor to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Edwards received an Honorary Doctorate from IDSVA in 2022.

Curlee R. Holton has been the Executive Director of the David C. Driskell Center and Artist in Residence at the Department of Art at the University of Maryland since 2012.  The David M. and Linda Roth Professor of Art, emeritus, at Lafayette College, Easton, PA, Holton is a printmaker and painter whose work has been exhibited in prestigious national and international venues such as Egypt’s 7th International Biennale, Cairo; the Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC. His work is in many private and public collections.  Holton received an Honorary Doctorate from IDSVA in 2018.

George Smith is founder and president of IDSVA, and Edgar E. Coons, Jr. Professor of New Philosophy. He is the author of The Artist-Philosopher and New Philosophy (Routledge 2018), The Artist-Philosopher and Poetic-Hermeneutics (Routledge 2021), and The Artist-Philosopher in the Age of Addiction: Heidegger’s Climatology (forthcoming).

This webinar is presented and hosted by:
The Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria, School of the Arts, University of Pretoria, The African Centre for the Study of the United States at the University of Pretoria (ACSUS-UP), The Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts in the United States (IDSVA), The African Centre for the Study of the United States at the University of the Witwatersrand (ACSUS-Wits).

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.