About Nikki A. Greene


Alma Thomas-Nikki Greene

Nikki A. Greene before Alma Thomas, Wind, Sunshine and Flowers, 1968. Photo by Jean Egger for the Tang Teaching Museum, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, 2016.

Nikki A. Greene, Ph.D.  | Assistant Professor of the Arts of Africa and the African Diaspora, Art Department, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts
Richard D. Cohen Fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African & African-American Research at Harvard University (2016-17) and Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellow (2016-17)
Nikki A. Greene received her BA in Art History from Wesleyan University, and her Masters and Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Delaware. Dr. Greene examines African American and African identities, the body, feminism, and music in modern and contemporary art. She arrived at Wellesley College in 2011 where she held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Africana Studies and Art Departments. She joined the Wellesley faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Art Department in 2013. Before her arrival at Wellesley, she held the Barra Foundation Fellowship in the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to catalogue the African American art collections. She also taught at Swarthmore College, Temple University, Moore College of Art and Design, and Rutgers University at Camden. In January 2013, she gave a series of lectures on African Art at the Alle School of Fine Arts and Design at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. More recently, she was the lead organizer of THIRD EXPOSURE~The Dark Room: Race and Visual Culture 3rd Annual Symposiumfeaturing Coco Fusco as the keynote speaker, that took place at Wellesley College on April 11, 2015. At the Black Portraitures II Conference in Florence, Italy, she presented “Facing the Music: Radcliffe Bailey, Sun Ra, and the African Diasporic Body” (May 2015).
Dr. Greene has investigated the significance of music in her research, jazz in particular, in the work of artists such as Aaron Douglas, Moe Brooker, and Radcliffe Bailey. Her book project, Rhythms of Glue, Grease, Grime and Glitter: The Body in Contemporary African American Art, presents a new interpretation of the work of Romare Bearden, David Hammons, Renée Stout, and Radcliffe Bailey, using key examples of painting, sculpture, photography, and installation by these prominent African-American artists as case studies in a re-examination of the conventions and stereotypes employed in the making of works of art and in the representations of black bodies and black identity in the 20th and 21st centuries. By examining how discourses such as music, literature and visual culture operate in concert with the cultural associations of the materials used by artists, she identifies these discourses as noteworthy conduits through which the artists’ bodily presences prevail. Building upon these previous investigations into the aural possibilities of the visual, she treats the art of Renée Stout through the lens of funk music titled, “The Feminist Funk Power of Betty Davis and Renée Stout” in a special edition of the American Studies Journal (Fall 2013). Other recent publications include catalogue essays on Ellen Gallagher’s Abu Simbel (2005-06) and Radcliffe Bailey’s Echo (2011) for the exhibition A Generous Medium: Photography at Wellesley College, 1972-2012, and “Artists’ Utopia? Cuban Art Defined at the Eleventh Havana Biennial” in the Delaware Review of Latin American Studies (December 2012).
Nikki A. Greene is originally from Newark, NJ, and she lives with her husband and two children in Massachusetts. She muses about her academic interests, travel, and the challenges of the work-life balance on this blog. For more about her “Musings,” click here.

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