Tuesday, March 30, 2010

21st Annual James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art

Established at Howard University in 1990 by Floyd Coleman, the James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art is named in honor of James A. Porter (see photograph), the pioneering Art Historian and Professor. Porter's 1943 publication, Modern Negro Art, laid the foundation for the field of study. Floyd Coleman will be one of the 2010 Honorees at the Annual Colloquium Benefit Gala.

The Theme for the 21st Annual James A. Porter Colloquium is FEARLESS: Risk Takers, Rule Breakers, and Innovators in African American Art and Art of the African Diaspora. This is an excellent opportunity for art historians, artists, critics, curators, collectors, interdisciplinary scholars, museum professionals, gallery owners, librarians/archivists, students, and the general public to support and be engaged in the documentation of African American art and visual culture.

The three-day program, sponsored by the Howard University Department of Art is presented in conjunction with The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora and the Howard University Gallery of Art, will examine the theme - FEARLESS - by focusing on “issues and ideas that reveal how this drive, impulse, and attitude often propel artists to break the rules, invent new aesthetics, and resist reductive categories that seek to marginalize them and their work. Papers and presentations will interrogate and re-contextualize the critical roles of courageous resistance and willful exuberance in spite of political, economic, and social realities.”

Dates: April 15 – 17, 2010

Place: Howard University, Armour J. Blackburn Center, Washington, DC           General admission is free, but registration is requested.

Register: http://jamesaportercolloquium.org/docs/Registration.html

Honorees: The Annual Colloquium Benefit Gala will honor Peggy Cooper Cafritz, Elizabeth Catlett, Floyd Coleman, and Jeff Donaldson (posthumously). 

Keynote Address: Renee Cox

Speakers: Jacqueline Francis and Okwui Enwezor

Contact: Portercolloquium.org@gmail.com

Telephone: 202/ 806-6171

For the full Colloquium schedule and highlight information on honorees and speakers, follow these links: http://www.jamesaportercolloquium.org/program.html and


Cancellation Update: The Distinguish Lecture in the Visual Arts in Honor of David C. Driskell with Elizabeth Catlett has been canceled. See NEWS at the David Driskell Center: http://www.driskellcenter.umd.edu/

Further Readings: This brief section provides additional selective information regarding James A. Porter and his accomplishments, and reviews from the time period that Modern Negro Art was published. There is a short biographical sketch on James A. Porter at the Black Renaissance in Washington, 1920-1930s Web site; a site that was created through a Carnegie Foundation grant awarded to the District of Columbia Public Library. 

The following three reviews, which were written during the time period that Modern Negro Art was published, are reflective of its immediate positive reception. The first review, written by Carter G. Woodson, appeared in "The Journal of Negro History," (volume XXIX, No. 2, April 1944). Woodson states "This book, on the whole, well deserves the designation of being one of permanent value. It comes to support the Negroes' claim in art just as works like those of Maud Cuney-Hare and other productions have established beyond a doubt the rightful place of the Negro in music. ...The Negro's heritage...will eventually influence those of esthetic bent to greater achievement. It does not matter so much what the medium of expression may be, the impression has been made through the years of the ordeal through which the Negroes have borne their trials and tribulations, and from the portrayal of these afflictions will come masterpieces."

Allan Freelon, in his role as Special Consultant in Art, Philadelphia Public Schools, reviewed Modern Negro Art in the spring 1944 issue (vol. XIII, no.2) of "The Journal of Negro Education." Freelon states that "Mr. Porter's research has been painstaking and thorough, bringing together in one volume, personalities, who generally were unknown beyond the limits of their immediate locale until the appearance of this volume. He skillfully integrates these artists and artist craftsmen into their time and place in the American scene; the economic and social development of the period under discussion always being shown as influencing their development or arresting their growth." In closing remarks of his review, Freelon praises the book as a
"scholarly work, fully documented with profuse footnotes...that should prove valuable to all students of Negro art and culture. Modern Negro Art is a must for all Americans interested in the cultural development of their country." 

The final review by Constance H. Curtis (New York Amsterdam News, November 6, 1943) has foresight in its expressed assessment that "Porter has written a workmanlike and unprejudiced volume, which will serve for a good many years both as a guide and a commentary on Negro art."  These were simply a few of the reviews praising this publication.

Be a part of the continual dialogue on African American art by attending and supporting FEARLESS: Risk Takers, Rule Breakers, and Innovators in African American Art and Art of the African Diaspora at the 21st Annual James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art at Howard University.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, George, for keeping us up-to-date on the recognition of black artists in current displays.
    I am surprised that I have never seen shows honoring White Pains, NY illustrator E. Simms Campbell for his prolific outpouring of commercial art over a 30 year period in the 1900s. I keep expecting someone to write about him in ILLUSTRATION magazine but it has not happened yet. Is there anyone out there who could do this? There are a lot of links to his work on Google.

    Cynthia Parker