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January 14, 2022 (March 31, 2022)

Performances and Programs Highlighting Leading Artists and Scholars of the African Diaspora Planned in Conjunction with Major Afro-Atlantic Histories Exhibition

Zanele Muholi, "Ntozakhe II, (Parktown)"

Zanele Muholi
Ntozakhe II, (Parktown), 2016
photographic wall mural from digital file
sheet: 355.6 x 254 cm (140 x 100 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund
© Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of the artist, Yancey Richardson, New York, and Stevenson Cape Town / Johannesburg

Washington, DC—In conjunction with our much-anticipated presentation of Afro-Atlantic Histories, today the National Gallery of Art announced an extensive schedule of performances, films, lectures, concerts, and community programs centered on art of the African Diaspora. The exhibition, which will be on view in Washington from April 10 through July 17, 2022, will also be accompanied by educational resources, teacher workshops, and an audio guide. Afro-Atlantic Histories will feature wall text in both English and Spanish.

In April, the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art will welcome artists whose work appears in the exhibition to join in conversation with leading writers and historians. The coinciding John Wilmerding Community Celebration will invite audiences to experience the art and culture of the African Diaspora during a day-long festival featuring music, cooking demonstrations and tastings, shopping from local creators, and the first public performance of María Magdalena Campos-Pons' piece, When We Gather. In May, a satellite installation in the Sculpture Garden will present Kara Walker's The Katastwóf Karavan (2018) with special performances of the work's steam-powered calliope by Jason Moran, the Grammy-nominated pianist, composer, and Kennedy Center artistic director for jazz.

A film series, Among Black Atlantic Cinemas, will feature historic and contemporary works by filmmakers from countries including Brazil, Cuba, Ethiopia, and Senegal. Music programs will include performances by the Ghanaian multi-instrumentalist, composer, and dancer Okaidja Afroso and the Haitian American flutist, vocalist, and composer Nathalie Joachim, who will present Fanm d'Ayiti, her Grammy-nominated work for flute, voice, string quartet, and electronics.

After exploring the exhibition, we welcome visitors to enjoy special menu items in the Cascade Café inspired by Executive Chef Christopher Curtis's Jamaican heritage and to browse our Shops for an array of bespoke merchandise from local DC artists, purveyors of specialty food traditions, and fair-trade groups who work to give voice to the African experience.

"We are honored to invite audiences to experience the cultures of the African Diaspora through a range of programs and performances inspired by Afro-Atlantic Histories," said Kaywin Feldman, director, National Gallery of Art. "This rich group of concerts, films, lectures, and resources will continue the conversations the exhibition begins and extend its impact beyond its galleries."

The unprecedented exhibition explores the impact and legacy of the African Diaspora across four continents. Initially organized and presented in 2018 by the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), Afro-Atlantic Histories includes more than 130 artworks and documents made in Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Europe from the 17th to the 21st century. Afro-Atlantic Histories is co-organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art. The exhibition was on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, from October 24, 2021, through January 17, 2022, and will travel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from December 11, 2022, through April 30, 2023, and to the Dallas Museum of Art. The National Gallery has engaged two advisory groups of scholars, artists, and community leaders to consult on exhibition content and collaborate on communications, programming opportunities, and outreach.

Exhibition Organization, Curators, and Advisory Groups

This exhibition is co-organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art.

Major support for this exhibition is provided by the Ford Foundation.

Additional funding is provided by the Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art and the Annenberg Fund for the International Exchange of Art.

The US tour is curated by Kanitra Fletcher, associate curator of African American and Afro-Diasporic art at the National Gallery of Art. At the National Gallery, the curatorial team also includes Molly Donovan, curator of contemporary art, and Steven Nelson, dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director, MASP; Ayrson Heráclito, guest curator; Hélio Menezes, guest curator; Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, adjunct curator of histories, MASP; and Tomás Toledo, chief curator, MASP, curated the exhibition at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo and Instituto Tomie Ohtake.

In Washington, the curators are working closely with two external advisory groups. One group, of local leading historians and art historians, includes Ana Lucia Araujo, professor of history, Howard University; Nicole Ivy, assistant professor of American studies, George Washington University; Kevin Tervala, associate curator of African art, Baltimore Museum of Art; Kristine Juncker, special assistant to the director, National Museum of African Art; and Michelle Joan Wilkinson, curator, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The second group includes artists and educators Martha Jackson Jarvis; Ellington Robinson; Alzira Lena Ruano; Renée Stout; Zsudayka Nzinga, vice president of Black Artists of DC; as well as Shelly Alves, executive associate for the vice president and provost of Montgomery College’s Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus; Tashira Halyard, community organizer, attorney, and blogger; Eduardo Perdomo, Interim Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs; and Karen Vidangos, social media specialist at the National Portrait Gallery and founder of the Latinx Art Collective.

Related Programs

Kara Walker's The Katastwóf Karavan (2018)
May 12–18
Sculpture Garden
Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series: Kara Walker and Jason Moran: May 14, 2:00 p.m.
Performances by Jason Moran: May 14, 3:30–4:00 p.m. and May 15, 2:00–2:30 p.m.

As part of Afro-Atlantic Histories, the Sculpture Garden will be site for a temporary installation of Kara Walker's The Katastwóf Karavan (2018), a work incorporating a steam calliope, a musical instrument used in the 19th century on steamboats and in carnivals. Walker made this sculpture for the Prospect.4 Triennial in New Orleans to create a temporary memorial at Algiers Point, a site in the city along the Mississippi River that once served as a holding area for enslaved Africans. Enveloped in the artist's signature silhouettes made from cut steel and set in a parade wagon, the steam-whistle organ will be programmed with a new, automated playlist of songs of Black resistance and celebration. Musician and artist Jason Moran will play the calliope live during special performances and join Walker for a conversation as part of the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series (more details below). The Afro-Atlantic Histories exhibition also features Walker's 2009 print Restraint.

April 10–July 17
West Building Lecture Hall
Free registration required at
Among Black Atlantic Cinemas will present historic and contemporary works by various international filmmakers. In exploring some of the key titles from the cinematic heritage of many nations—including Guinea-Bissau, Brazil, Cuba, Ethiopia, Senegal, and the United States, among others—this film series will begin to address legacies of resistance to slavery and white cultural hegemony. Restored titles by historic filmmakers such as Zózimo Bulbul (Brazil), Med Hondo (Mauritania), and Sarah Maldoror (French West Indies) will be presented, along with recent work by contemporary artists such as Jon Goff (Ghana/US), Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich (Jamaica/US), and Isaac Julien (UK). With special thanks to co-programmers Janaína Oliveira and Aboubakar Sanogo.

National Gallery Nights
April 14, May 12, June 9, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
West Building, Main Floor
Free registration required at
This beloved evening program offers a chance to enjoy the exhibition after hours alongside music, performances, pop-up experiences, art-making activities, and more.

Okaidja Afroso Trio
April 24, 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.
West Building, West Garden Court
Free registration required at
A singer, songwriter, arranger, percussionist, guitarist, and traditional dancer from Ghana, Okaidja Afroso will perform with his trio. Afroso's 2017 album The Palm Wine Sea brings together the deep understanding of Afroso's own musical transitions and the inspiration of Africa throughout Latin America.

Nathalie Joachim with Spektral String Quartet
May 1, 3:00 p.m.
West Building, West Garden Court
Free registration required at
Haitian American flutist, composer, and vocalist Nathalie Joachim, along with Spektral String Quartet, will present Joachim's work Fanm d'Ayiti (Women of Haiti). Commissioned by St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's Liquid Music Series, Fanm d'Ayiti is a celebration of some of Haiti's most iconic yet under-recognized female artists, as well as an exploration of Joachim's Haitian heritage. Released in 2019, the work received a Grammy nomination for Best World Music Album.

Additional outdoor performances will be announced at a later date.

Arnold Newman Lecture Series on Photography: Mickalene Thomas
March 30, 6:00 p.m.
Free registration required at
Mickalene Thomas, artist, filmmaker, and curator, in conversation with Andrea Nelson, associate curator of photographs, National Gallery of Art. Thomas—whose work Melody: Back, a National Gallery acquisition, is featured in the Afro-Atlantic Histories exhibition—will discuss her expansion of portraiture and the representation of Black women in her practice. 

Introduction to the Exhibition
April 10, 1:00 p.m.
East Building Auditorium
Free registration required at
To celebrate opening day of Afro-Atlantic Histories, curators Molly Donovan, Kanitra Fletcher, and Steven Nelson will present a lecture on the genesis and significance of the exhibition. A signing of the exhibition catalog follows in the Concourse Shop.

John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art: Afro-Atlantic Histories
April 26–28
Free registration required at
The symposium will gather literary and visual artists to reflect on how art responds to and shapes both official and overlooked narratives wrought by the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies.

Session I: "the afterlife of slavery"
April 26, 6:00 p.m.
Presentations on the lasting legacy of slavery by Saidiya Hartman, author and University Professor, department of English and comparative literature, Columbia University; Rosana Paulino, artist; and Cameron Rowland, artist. Followed by a discussion moderated by Steven Nelson, dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art.

Session II: “I built this altar for them”: Mining the Archives to Uplift Untold Stories
April 27, 1:00 p.m.
Presentations on archival research–based practices that create and uplift missing narratives by Erica Buddington, educator, emcee, poet, cofounder and CEO of the Langston League, Emmy-nominated writer for the Amber Ruffin Show, host of the YouTube series Decolonized, Brave New Voices slam champion, and HBO Def Poet; Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, poet, novelist, critic, scholar, and professor of English, University of Oklahoma; and Nona Faustine, artist. Followed by a discussion moderated by Sheila McDaniel, administrator, National Gallery of Art.

Session III: “Blackness is not peripheral to the American project; it is the foundation”
April 28, 1:00 p.m.
Presentations on the role of history and memory in shaping American culture and identity by Hank Willis Thomas, artist and cofounder of For Freedoms; Renée Stout, artist; Clint Smith, poet, author of How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America, staff writer at The Atlantic, and host of the YouTube series Crash Course Black American History Followed by a discussion moderated by E. Carmen Ramos, chief curatorial and conservation officer, National Gallery of Art.

Made possible by a grant from the Alice L. Walton Foundation

Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series: Kara Walker and Jason Moran
May 14, 2:00 p.m.
Sculpture Garden (In the case of rain, East Building Auditorium)
Free registration required at
A conversation between artists Kara Walker and Jason Moran in conjunction with the installation of Walker's work The Katastwóf Karavan (2018) in the Sculpture Garden.

Elson Lecture Series: Daniel Lind-Ramos
Video premiere
Daniel Lind-Ramos, MacArthur "Genius" Fellow (2021), artist, and senior professor, University of Puerto Rico at Humacao Campus

Afro-Atlantic Histories Festival
John Wilmerding Community Celebration
April 30, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
West Building
Full schedule at
Experience the art and culture of the African Diaspora with music by Sticks+Bars Youth Marimba Ensemble, a local creator pop-up shop, cooking demonstration and tasting, and more. Made possible by a grant from the Alice L. Walton Foundation

At 1:00 p.m., visionary artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons will perform her work When We Gather live for the first time. Celebrating women who have played a role in the progress of the United States, this interactive, multifaceted piece begins in the East Garden Court and proceeds to the steps of our National Mall entrance. The performance was made possible by major support from the Phyllis & Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation and a grant from the Alice L. Walton Foundation. Additional generous support was provided by the Carl M. Freeman Foundation, Craig and Kathryn Hall, and Leah R. Bennett.

Procession: Enslaved Washington
May 14. 11:00 a.m.
Meets outside the West Building's Fourth Street Entrance
Free registration required at
An outdoor procession will walk to four historical sites of enslavement on or near the National Gallery campus. Ed Ingebretsen, professor of philosophy at University of Maryland, College Park, talks about the city's relationship to slavery as we move from 3rd to 7th Streets NW. The procession concludes in the Sculpture Garden at Kara Walker's The Katastwóf Karavan(2018). Walker created the caravan with her signature silhouette imagery as a way to point out the inadequacy of memorials to former sites of enslavement.

Full schedule available at
45- to 60-minute slide overviews offered on various weekdays and weekends at 11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 1:00 p.m. the West Building Lecture Hall will provide an introduction to Afro-Atlantic Histories. Groups are welcome.

Resources and Content

Audio Guide
An exhibition audio guide featuring commentary by curators, artists, and scholars will be available for visitors free of charge, online and in the galleries. In addition to National Gallery curators and staff, the guide includes commentary by artists Nona Faustine, Titus Kaphar, Daniel Lind-Ramos, Ibrahim Mahama, Kerry James Marshall, Faith Ringgold, Renée Stout, and Hank Willis Thomas, as well as Hélio Menezes, co-curator of the 2018 presentation of Histórias Afro-Atlânticas, and Ana Lucia Araujo, professor of history, Howard University. To listen in the galleries, visitors should bring their mobile device and headphones.

Digital Resource
Launching in May, a digital resource created by the National Gallery in consultation with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will provide educators with inspiration and tools to integrate the content and themes of Afro-Atlantic Histories into their classrooms. The resource will pair works from the exhibition with discussion questions and curricular connections. Developed in collaboration with an advisory group of history and art educators from across the United States, the resource will be geared toward secondary-level history educators but applicable for additional grade levels.

Teacher Workshops
Virtual teacher workshops pair an introduction to Afro-Atlantic Histories with presentations by thought leaders, demonstrations of teaching strategies, and examples of how teachers can use the exhibition and its resources in their virtual or in-person classrooms. Ready-to-use, adaptable resources are available for teachers to replicate and incorporate into their own lesson planning. Registration available at

Videos and Stories
New videos on the National Gallery's YouTube channel will explore different facets of the exhibition and the artists it includes. Released throughout the run of the exhibition, videos will include a Two-Minute Tour of Afro-Atlantic Histories and Artists at Work episodes on artists Dalton Paula and Daniel Lind-Ramos. On the National Gallery's blog, stories will offer readers an introduction to the exhibition, closer looks at works of art, contemporary reflections, and deeper explorations on exhibition themes.

Dining and Shopping

Afro-Atlantic Histories–Inspired Cuisine
In celebration of Afro-Atlantic Histories and Executive Chef Christopher Curtis's Jamaican heritage, the National Gallery will offer a menu including Curtis's signature jerk chicken alongside other traditional Jamaican dishes, such as catfish escovitch, fried green tomatoes, and coconut rice and beans. These dishes and other culinary offerings will be available in the Cascade Café beginning April 6, 2022, through the length of the exhibition.

Shop Afro-Atlantic Histories
National Gallery Shops will offer an array of bespoke merchandise from local DC artists, purveyors of specialty food traditions, and fair-trade groups who work to give voice to the African experience. A few highlights of this limited-time collection include wearable ceramic art, vibrant apparel, jewelry designed by Zambian women metalsmiths, regional favorite condiment Uncle Dell's Mambo Sauce, and hand-crafted decorative bowls. Visit our shops onsite—including a special pop-up shop near the exhibition exit—or our online storefront to purchase.

Exhibition Overview

Afro-Atlantic Histories juxtaposes works by artists from 24 countries, representing evolving perspectives across time and geography through major paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs, time-based media art, and ephemera. The range extends from historical paintings by Frans Post, George Morland, and Théodore Géricault to contemporary works by Ibrahim Mahama, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Melvin Edwards.

The US tour further builds on the exhibition's overarching theme of histórias—a Portuguese term that can encompass both fictional and nonfictional narratives of cultural, economic, personal, or political character. The term is plural, diverse, and inclusive, presenting viewpoints that have been marginalized or forgotten. The exhibition unfolds through six thematic sections that explore the varied histories of the Diaspora.

Maps and Margins illustrates the beginnings of the slave trade as it unfolded across the Atlantic between Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Highlights include artworks that reference thewidely reproduced British abolitionist illustration Description of a Slave Ship (1789), which precisely details a slave ship's cargo hold, and Aaron Douglas's painting Into Bondage (1936), a powerful portrayal of the moment when a group of Africans are taken to a slave ship bound for the Americas.

Enslavements and Emancipations examines how the abuses of commercial slavery triggered rebellion, escape, and abolitionist movements. Theodor Kaufmann's On to Liberty (1867) portrays women and children fleeing through the woods—a scene that Kaufmann, who served as a Union solider during the American Civil War, witnessed firsthand. Torturous practices are addressed in works that range from The Scourged Back, a widely published 1863 photograph, to the 2009 etching Restraint, a powerful image of a silhouetted figure in an iron brindle, by American artist Kara Walker. Samuel Raven's Celebrating the Emancipation of Slaves in British Dominions, August 1834 (c. 1834) presents a romanticized tribute to emancipation, while Ernest Crichlow's portrait of Harriet Tubman honors the fearless liberator and "conductor" of the Underground Railroad.

Everyday Lives features images of daily life in Black communities during and after slavery, in realistic and romanticized views. Among 20th-century artists, American Clementine Hunter and Brazilian Heitor dos Prazeres depict daily life and friendships. American Romare Bearden draws inspiration from the rhythmic and improvised staccato of jazz and the blues for his depiction of a sharecropper in the monumental collage Tomorrow I May Be Far Away (1967). The pastoral painting Landscape with Anteater (c. 1660), by Dutch artist Frans Post, places enslaved laborers and Indigenous peoples in an idyllic Brazilian landscape.

Rites and Rhythms features works about celebrations and ceremonies in the Americas and the Caribbean. Often recreating African traditions, these rites became channels for worship and communication. Twentieth-century Uruguayan artist Pedro Figari frequently portrayed his country's Candombe dances, which originated with descendants of enslaved Africans. Dominican artist Jaime Colson's lively Merengue (1938) pays homage to his country's national dance and music, a blend of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and African movements. Other works in this section of the exhibition explore Carnival, African-based religions, and the historical Black presence in Christianity.

Portraits spotlights Black leaders of the 18th and 19th centuries who have not traditionally been memorialized in historical American and European portraiture. Dalton Paula's Zeferina (2018), commissioned for the original presentation at MASP, provides a face to the influential leader of a slave rebellion who was arrested and sentenced to death before she could be commemorated. Other works feature ordinary people, invented figures, and the artists themselves, including the unconventional Self-Portrait (as Liberated American Woman of the 70s) (1997) by Cameroonian photographer Samuel Fosso, which challenges our understanding of self-portraiture.

Resistances and Activisms examines the continuing fight for freedoms. Banners, flags, and textiles referring to histories of resistance across the Afro-Atlantic invoke cultural, political, religious, and artistic identities. They Shouted Black at Me (1978), a video by Peruvian artist Victoria Santa Cruz, is a powerful renunciation of colorism and racism through poetry and dance inspired by the artist's own history. Other works in this section draw attention to Black activism, including Glenn Ligon's painting Untitled (I Am a Man) (1988), inspired by signs carried in the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers' Strike protesting unsafe working conditions and low wages, and March on Washington (1964), a rare figurative painting by Alma Thomas that recalls her experience attending the storied demonstration.


MASP has produced an expanded edition of its 2018 exhibition catalog for the US tour. Afro-Atlantic Histories includes essays by Vivian Crockett, Kanitra Fletcher, Ayrson Heráclito, Hélio Menezes, Adriano Pedrosa, Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, and Deborah Willis. It is published by MASP and Delmonico Books. The book will be available for purchase in the National Gallery Shops, online at, or at 800.697.9350.



Introduction to the Show: Afro-Atlantic Histories

Afro-Atlantic Histories
National Gallery of Art, April 10 through July 17, 2022

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