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James A. Porter Colloquium

Cosponsored with Howard University

Defining Diaspora: 21st-Century Developments in Art of the African Diaspora


James A. Porter, Self-Portrait, 1957, oil on canvas, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Dorothy Porter Wesley

Join the Colloquium

Friday, April 16, 2021
4:30–6:30 p.m.

To celebrate the centennial of Howard University’s department of art, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts is honored to cosponsor Howard’s 31st Annual James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art and Art of the African Diaspora. This event brings together artists and art historians to explore the aesthetic practices, critical issues, and art historical interpretations of the art of the African Diaspora.

Register to attend
This event will be closed-captioned and will not be recorded.

Program of Events

Welcome (4:30 p.m. EDT)
Lisa Farrington, associate dean for fine arts and director of the Gallery of Art, Howard University, and Steven Nelson, dean, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, will moderate the live discussion following the presentations.


Opening Lecture (4:40 p.m. EDT)
Erica Moiah James, University of Miami
Undress to Redress: African Diasporic Art History and Archives of Black Representational Bodies

Erica Moiah James is assistant professor of art history at the University of Miami. She specializes in modern and contemporary art of the Caribbean and the African and African American Diasporas. She was previously founding director and chief curator of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Her forthcoming publication is After Caliban: Caribbean Art in the Global Imaginary.


Lifetime Achievement Lecture (5:10 p.m. EDT)
Freida High Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Reflections on My Personal / Professional Journey That Continues Amid Crises in the 21st Century

Freida High Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis is Evjue-Bascom Emerita Professor of African and African American Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has written extensively on the theory and history of the art of African and African American women artists, curated exhibitions, served as a consultant in Germany and Nigeria, and received distinguished art, teaching, and research awards. As a painter and printmaker, she has exhibited nationwide and her work is in many private and public collections, including the Chazen Museum of Art, South Side Community Art Center, and Institute of Positive Education.


James A. Porter Distinguished Lecture (5:40 p.m. EDT)
Kobena Mercer, Yale University
Flowback—How Africa Is Redefining Today’s Diaspora 

Kobena Mercer is professor in history of art and African American studies at Yale University, focusing on modern and contemporary art and visual culture of the African Diaspora. He has written extensively on African American, Caribbean, and Black British artists, including James Van Der Zee, Romare Bearden, Adrian Piper, Isaac Julien, and Rotimi Fani-Kayode.


© Grace Roselli

Floyd W. Coleman Sr. Distinguished Lecture (6:10 p.m. EDT)
Renée Stout, Washington, DC
Thank You for Talking to Me Africa: Trusting the Voice Within

Renée Stout is a painter and sculptor based in Washington, DC. Her work is in the collections of many museums across the country, including the National Gallery of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. She is the recipient of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art, the 2020 Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Award, and the Virginia A. Groot Foundation Award.

Top image credit: Renée Stout, Burn for Love (detail), 2000, color screenprint on Rives BFK wove paper, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (Gift of the Hand Print Workshop in honor of Anne and Ronald Abramson and the Directors of the Hand Print Workshop International), 2015.19.3181