New Conversations on African Art

  • 10:00 AM–8:00 PM

Online via Zoom

Learn about what’s new in the study and practice of African art.

The Stanley Museum of Art presents a symposium about new conversations in the field of African Art. The three-part event is moderated by Curator of African Arts Cory Gundlach and brings together scholars from across the United States and West Africa working in art history, curation, visual art, anthropology, sociology, and communication.

Each event will feature three, twenty-minute presentations from panelists who will then join in a roundtable discussion. These conversations are designed to be accessible to all attendees.

Re-thinking the Canon
Saturday, October 2 @ 10:00 a.m.

Scholarly approaches and canons change over time in response to changing values, responsibilities, and needs. What, then, does the African canon look like in a world forever changed after 2020? What new possibilities are there that allow us to consider the African diaspora as a context for viewing the African canon? How do associated histories among artworks re-constitute the canon and help us see it anew?

 - Sylvester Ogbechie, Professor of Art History at University of California, Santa Barbara

 - Yaëlle Biro, Curator of African Arts, in the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 - Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi, Associate Professor of African art history at Emory University

New Directions in Practice and Performance
Thursday, October 21 @ 7:00 p.m. 

How are artists changing conceptions of the longstanding artistic traditions of pottery and textiles? These important portals explore shifting ideas of taste, teaching, and scholarship in African art history. Performative dimensions of contemporary artistic practice in Africa will also be explored, while interrogating ideas of “old” and “new.”

 -  Nnenna Okore, Artist and Professor of Art at North Park University, Chicago

 -  Allen F. Roberts, Distinguished Professor of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at University of California, Los Angeles

 -  Donté K. Hayes, Artist

Museum Interventions
Thursday, November 11 @ 7:00 p.m.

How might museums harness the power of their collections? Can they serve as a conduit for a just world, with sensitivity towards the often-fraught histories behind African artworks? Together with panelists, Gundlach will probe the institution’s power to answer youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman’s appeal that “the norms and notions / of what just is / isn’t always just-ice….”

 -  Bennetta Jules-Rosette, Professor of Sociology at the University of California, San Diego and Director of the African and African-American Studies Research Center

 -  J.R. Osborn, Associate Professor in the Communication, Culture, and Technology program at Georgetown University

 -  Peju Layiwola, Artist and Professor of Art History and Head of the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos


All symposium conversations are online and free – registration is required:

Major support for the symposium is provided by the Interdisciplinary Project for Advanced Study of Art and Life in Africa (PASALA).

Cost: Free and open to all - registration required


Bana Guili style

Woman's beaded apron

, mid 20th Century
Beads, cotton fiber, shells, 6 x 44 x 3/8 in. (15.2 x 111.8 x 1 cm)
Museum of Art African Collection Fund with support from J. Randolph Lewis, M.D. and Linda Lewis, 2003.31

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in a program, please contact the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art in advance at 335-1727.