Center for African and African American Studies at Rice University Begins 2020 Lecture Series

by Christopher Blay January 29, 2020

Visiting Artist Lecture Series - Hannah Black-UH-1

The Spring 2020 Visiting Artist Lecture Series at the Rice Media Center kicked off on January 24 with artist  Hannah Black (Jan. 24), and runs through March 6. The series continues this Friday, January 31 with artist Michael Queenland, then Malik Gaines on February 7 and Nicole Miller on March 6, with guests covering works from film, composition and dance, to photography, performance, and sculpture, while bringing their unique perspectives on contemporary art’s sociopolitical concerns.

Topics covered in the series, which is co-sponsored by Rice’s Visual and Dramatic Arts Department (VADA) and the Center for African and African American Studies (CAAAS), will focus on black culture, representation, and history.

“Much of the most exciting and challenging work in the contemporary art field is being done by African American artists,” says VADA Chair John Sparagana, who worked with VADA professors Lisa Lapinski and Natasha Bowdoin and CAAAS Director Anthony Pinn on curating the lineup of speakers.


Rice University’s Spring 2020 Visiting artists lecturers. From Left: Hannah Black, Nicole Miller,Michael Queenland, and Malik Gaines.

Sparagana continues: “We wanted to bring in artists working, thinking and writing on the cutting edge of contemporary art, driven to a significant extent from the perspective of African American experience. We were successful in attracting high-profile artists doing really fascinating work in various disciplines for this collaborative series.”

The free Friday noon lectures take place in the Rice Media Center, and come with support from the School of Humanities Dean’s Office. The program includes visits and critiques from the guests artists for VADA and CAAAS students.

CAAAS Director Anthony Pinn states: “The arts have tremendous reach. They have informed and helped to shape our thinking on a range of public issues. Think for example of the impact of the arts on the civil rights movement. Artists speak to and about a world that has impact beyond any particular discipline. They reflect on our world, offering new ways of seeing and thinking that are of benefit regardless of one’s particular field of study or life circumstances.”

The lecture series launched to coincide with the opening of the Moody Center for the Arts exhibition Radical Revisionists, which considers race, representation and the long-term effects of colonialization through the work of 10 contemporary African artists across three galleries.

For more on the lectures, please visit the Rice University website here.

The following is information on the remaining artists scheduled to lecture in the series:

Michael Queenlan is an LA based artist whose work has been exhibited at the Santa Monica Museum of Art (now ICA-LA), LA><ART, the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art and the Massachusetts College of Art. He also taught as assistant professor of sculpture at the Yale School of Art from 2010-16 and in 2016, received the Rome Prize and was a fellow at the American Academy in Rome from 2016-17.

Malik Gaines is a writer, composer, and performer whose book, “Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left,” traces political ideas through performances of the 1960s and beyond. Gaines is associate professor of performance studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and in an upcoming Warhol Foundation grant for a book project, he explores contemporary artworks and performances that act at the limits of national sovereignty. Writing for numerous journals and exhibition catalogs, most recently for artists including Lorraine O’Grady, Senga Nengudi, Pope.L and the Judson Dance Theater, Gaines has also performed and exhibited extensively with the group My Barbarian.

Nicole Miller, an assistant professor in the art department at University of California, San Diego, lives and works in Los Angeles, where she attended CalArts and received her graduate degree from the University of Southern California’s Roski School of the Arts. Her work considers notions of subjectivity and self-representation, especially in relation to the African American male body, and she has had solo exhibitions at Ballroom Marfa, Centre D’art Contemporain Geneva, The Highline in NYC, and Kunst Werke in Berlin. She has also shown at LAXART in Los Angeles and featured in major museum exhibitions including the Hammer Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the “Dallas Biennale” at the Dallas Contemporary, and the recent reopening exhibition of SFMOMA. 


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