This fall and spring, the Florida State University Department of Art History is hosting three prominent scholars of the arts and visual cultures of Africa and its Diasporas: Dr. Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie of UC Santa Barbara visited in September, Dr. Salah M. Hassan of Cornell University will visit on a date yet to be determined, and in late November Dr. Cécile Fromont of Yale University will join us for a workshop with students and a public lecture. Dr. Fromont’s talk, “Paper, Ink, Vodun, and the Inquisition,” will be held on Thursday, November 29 at 6 pm in G40 William Johnston Building.
Dr. Cécile Fromont is Associate Professor of African Art in the Department of the History of Art at Yale University. She specializes in the visual, material, and religious cultures of Africa and Latin America, with an emphasis on the early modern period (ca. 1500–1800) and on the Portuguese-speaking Atlantic World. She is the author of the highly acclaimed book, The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo (University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History, 2014), which was awarded the 2015 American Academy of Religion Best First Book in the History of Religions and the 2015 Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize for the Best Book in Africana Religions, as well as an honorable mention for the 2015 Melville J. Herskovits Award. Her book publications also include her forthcoming collection of essays, Afro-Catholic Festivals in the Americas: Performance, Representation, and the Making of Black Atlantic Tradition, based on a conference she organized at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale’s Divinity School. Her essays on African and Latin American art have appeared, among other venues, in the Colonial Latin American Review, African Arts, RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, as well as various edited volumes and exhibition catalogues. Her current research investigates areas of intersection between visual and material culture, religion, and knowledge creation in cross-cultural environments of early modern Africa and Latin America. Most recently, Dr. Fromont was the holder of the prestigious Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome (2017–18).
Dr. Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie is a full professor in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at UCSB. He specializes in the arts and visual culture of Africa and its Diasporas, especially in terms of how art history discourses create value for African cultural patrimony in the age of globalization. He is the author of Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist (University of Rochester Press, 2008; winner of the 2009 Melville J. Herskovits Award for Best Scholarly Publication on Africa, awarded by the African Studies Association) and Making History: African Collectors and the Canon of African Art (5 Continents Editions, 2011), and editor of Artists of Nigeria (5 Continents Editions, 2012). He is the director of Aachron Knowledge Systems, and founder and editor of Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture. He has organized international film conventions, established a foundation, and convened research symposia on the Nigerian Video Film Industry. Dr. Ogbechie has also consulted on African and African Diaspora arts for major museums in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia. His current project focuses on the politics of cultural patrimony debates as it affects demands for the repatriation of African cultural patrimony held in Western museums and institutions.
Dr. Salah M. Hassan is the Goldwin Smith Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History and Visual Culture in the Africana Studies and Research Center and in the Department of History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University, where he is also Director of the Institute for Comparative Modernities. He is an art historian, art critic, and curator. His research interests include African and African Diaspora art history and visual cultures, focusing on contemporary art and modernism from comparative perspectives. He is an editor and founder of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art (Duke University Press) and has served as consulting editor for African Arts (MIT Press). He has published widely on modern and contemporary African and African Diaspora art, and curated several international exhibitions, including Authentic/Ex-Centric (49th Venice Biennale, 2001), Unpacking Europe (Rotterdam, 2001–02), and 3×3: Three Artists/Three Projects: David Hammons, Maria Magdalena Compos-Pons, Pamela Z (Dak’Art, 2004). He has authored, edited and co-edited several books, including Darfur and the Crisis of Governance: A Critical Reader (2009), and Diaspora, Memory, Place (2008); Unpacking Europe (2001); Authentic/Ex-Centric (2001); Gendered Visions: The Art of Contemporary Africana Women Artists (1997); and Art and Islamic Literacy among the Hausa of Northern Nigeria (1992). His book, Ibrahim El Salahi: A Visionary Modernist (2012), was published in conjunction with the retrospective of the Sudanese artist exhibited at the Sharjah Art Museum (Sharjah, UAE) and The Tate Modern in London in 2013. Dr. Hassan is currently working on two major projects funded by the Sharjah Art Foundations, UAE entitled The Egyptian Surrealists and The Khartoum School: The Making of the Modern Art Movement in Sudan (1945–Present), which will result in several publications and traveling exhibitions.