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Department of English Language and Literature pres.

CANCELLED: Huey Copeland Lecture

Black Feminist Materialism and Art-historical Praxis

Howardena Pindell, Untitled (Dutch Wives Circled and Squared), detail, 1978 Howardena Pindell, Untitled (Dutch Wives Circled and Squared), detail, 1978
Howardena Pindell, Untitled (Dutch Wives Circled and Squared), detail, 1978
Please join the Critical Contemporary Studies Workshop for a public lecture by Huey Copeland (Northwestern).

"Black Feminist Materialism and Art-historical Praxis"
In this lecture, art historian and critic Huey Copeland aims to reframe the biases of art-historical praxis through attention to African American abstract painting of the 1960s and '70s. While the practices of artists who emerged in that moment, such as Sam Gilliam and Howardena Pindell, have garnered increasing attention in recent years, critical discourse has tended to either emplot them within formalist narratives that elide considerations of race and gender or to frame them in identarian frameworks that leave aside the material complexity of the artworks themselves. Copeland moves beyond this dichotomy in articulating a black feminist approach to the construction of the modern material world that considers how African American women’s vernacular strategies of making-do variously inform modernist painters’ attempts to critique both the supposed autonomy of abstraction as well as the racialized and gendered construction of the gaze in Western cultures.

Huey Copeland is Interim Director of the Black Arts Initiative, Arthur Andersen Teaching and Research Professor, and Associate Professor of Art History at Northwestern University, where he also enjoys affiliations with African American Studies, Art Theory & Practice, Critical Theory, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Performance Studies. His research focuses on modern and contemporary art with an emphasis on articulations of blackness in the Western visual field. An editor of OCTOBER and a contributing editor of Artforum, Copeland has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals as well as in numerous international exhibition catalogues and essay collections. At present, he is at work on two complementary volumes: “In the Shadow of the Negress: Modern Art in the Transatlantic World,” which explores the constitutive role played by fictions of black womanhood in Western art from the late 18th century to the present, and “Touched by the Mother: On Black Men, Artistic Practice, and Other Feminist Horizons, 1966–2016,” which brings together a selection of his critical essays.

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