John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art 2020, A Tribute to David C. Driskell: Part 4, The Cultural Cartographer: The Invaluable Art Roadmaps of David C. Driskell
Alvia J. Wardlaw, professor of art history, department of visual and performing arts, and curator and director of the University Museum, Texas Southern University
In this presentation recorded on August 31, 2020, Alvia J. Wardlaw discusses how David C. Driskell laid the critical groundwork for the study of African American art through his tireless study of past scholarship and contemporary artists, as well as his meticulous archiving and documentation. Wardlaw considers Driskell's awareness of the importance of each moment, past and present, as a means of forging new paths and discoveries, creating roadmaps for those that follow. She began referring to Driskell’s roadmaps when she was a graduate student of African American art, with the work of James A. Porter as a starting point, and later with Driskell himself serving on her dissertation advisory board. Wardlaw describes the importance that Driskell’s landmark exhibition Two Centuries of Black American Art held for her as an aspiring scholar and how Driskell created opportunities for her as a young professional. She points to Driskell’s direct impact on the growth of institutional collections of African American art as one of his final, lasting contributions as a cultural cartographer. The fourth annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art was held in partnership with the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. This program was made possible by a grant from the Alice L. Walton Foundation.