Learn About Art League Houston’s Lifetime Achievement Awardee, Dr. Alvia Wardlaw

by Glasstire December 15, 2021

From Art League Houston:

“Art League Houston (ALH) is honored to celebrate Dr. Alvia Wardlaw as the recipient of the biannual 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award in Arts Leadership. In a career that spans five decades, including 22 years at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and nearly 50 years at Texas Southern University, art historian and curator Dr. Wardlaw has presented exhibitions rewriting the canon of American art with major, overdue chapters for African American artists, especially John Biggers, Thornton Dial and Kermit Oliver.

As Director/Curator of the University Museum at Texas Southern University, Wardlaw has organized over 70 exhibitions at the museum including the international exhibitions Traces of Confucius and J’aime Cheri Samba as well as the highly acclaimed Get On Board: Stories of the Los Angeles to Houston Freedom Ride and most recently Eclectic Energy: The Art of Mack Bishop and Malik Bishop. In 1984, Wardlaw was selected as a Fulbright Fellow to study in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Senegal, West Africa. She also received a Fulbright Award for study in Tanzania, East Africa in 1997. In 2001 she served as a Senior Fellow for the 2001 American Leadership Forum and was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994. She also received the Alumni Award of Merit from the University of Texas at Austin and the Ethos Founders Award from Wellesley College in 2008.

Dr. Wardlaw was recognized as an African American Living Legend by African American News and Issues in 2008 and was named Texas Southern University’s Research Scholar of the Year in 2009. In addition, Black Art Ancestral Legacy was named Best Exhibition of 1990 by D Magazine, and The Quilts of Gee’s Bend received the International Association of Art Critics Award in 2003. In 2010, Wardlaw was awarded the Wellesley College Alumnae Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed by her alma mater to an alumna, for her outstanding contributions to the field of American art. Most recently, Dr. Wardlaw was featured in a 2019 Forbes magazine article, Under the Radar: The Top Five Black Women You Should Know in the Art World, as one of five women shaping the future of art and culture in America.

She currently serves on the boards of the Orange Show Foundation, the Emancipation Park Conservancy, the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston and was appointed an honorary trustee for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. For over a decade, Dr. Wardlaw served as a member of the Scholarly Advisory Committee of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Recently, the University Museum became one of five HBCU’s elected to be part of the HBCU History and Culture Access Consortium organized by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Dr. Wardlaw is a second-generation professor at Texas Southern University. Her father, Professor Alvin H. Wardlaw, was chair of the Mathematics Department and then served as Budget Director of the university for 63 years. As Professor of Art History in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, Dr. Wardlaw has, like her father, mentored countless students. In counseling art majors about their careers, she has helped them to secure positions and internships at such institutions as the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania; the Orange Show Foundation, Houston; Art League Houston; and the Community Artists’ Collective. Most recently, in working collaboratively with the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at TSU, Wardlaw and Professor Leamon Green received approval to offer the minor in Museum Studies for all students at Texas Southern University.

Video by JayClark Films, courtesy of Art League Houston.”

Learn more here.

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