Bio

Nikki A. Greene, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of the Arts of Africa and the African Diaspora in the Art Department at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts | Visual Arts Editor, Transition 

Nikki A. Greene - Jewett Art Center
Photo by Samara Pearlstein

Nikki A. Greene, Ph.D. received her BA with honors 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 diaspora identities, the body, feminism, abstraction, and music in modern and contemporary art. She is the Visual Arts Editor of Transition, published by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University (Indiana University Press).

Dr. Greene joined the faculty of Wellesley College as an Assistant Professor in the Art Department in 2013. She has traveled throughout the United States and internationally, including to Chile, England, Italy, and South Africa, to deliver lectures on the Arts of the African diaspora. 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. She is the recipient of the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Art and Africana Studies at Wellesley College, the Woodrow Wilson Career Advancement Fellowship, and the Richard D. Cohen Fellowship at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

Her forthcoming book, Grime, Glass, and Glitter: The Body and The Sonic in Contemporary Black Art  (Duke University Press, under contract) presents a new interpretation of the work of Renée Stout, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, and Radcliffe Bailey, and considers the intersection between the body, black identity, and the sonic possibilities of the visual. This year’s publications include:  “Vibrations in the Soul: Moe Brooker’s Sacred Paintings,” in Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art (Summer 2018); “Riffing the Index: Romare Bearden and the Hand of Jazz,” in Music, Art and Performance From Liszt to Riot Grrrl: The Musicalisation of Art, edited by Diane Silverthorne (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018); and “Habla LAMADRE: María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Carrie Mae Weems, and Black Feminist Performance,” in Beyond the Face: New Perspectives on Portraiture, edited by Wendy Wick Reeves (Giles, Ltd. in association with the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, 2018).

Select recent publications include: “The Feminist Funk Power of Betty Davis and Renée Stout” in American Studies Journal (Fall 2013); “Deana Lawson and Nikki A. Greene in Conversation about the Emanuel 9” in Aperture: Vision & Justice Online (June 2016); and “Wind, Sunshine, and Flowers: The Visual Cadences of Alma Thomas’s Washington, DC,” in Alma Thomas (Studio Museum in Harlem & Tang Teaching Museum, 2016). She also wrote about teaching art history in the digital age in “Beyond ‘Mona Lisa Smile’: Art, Race and Social Media on Campus” for WBUR’s Edify. Visit “Publications” for a full bibliography.

Nikki A. Greene is originally from Newark, NJ, and she lives with her husband and two children in Massachusetts. Greene’s summer 2016 blog post “Eating Ice Cream While Black (Or My Life in Wellesley, Mass)” on microaggressions received local and national attention and was featured on WBUR Boston’s Cognescenti and on Radio Boston to discuss “The Challenge of Raising Kids of Color in a Homogenous Community.” She “muses” here about her scholarly interests, travel, and the challenges of the work-life balance.

Recent & Upcoming Events

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Nikki A. Greene with WBUR’s Radio Boston host, Meghna Chakrabarti.

August 3: Radio Boston: “Eating While Black: Smith College Employee Reported Student Who ‘Seemed Out Of place.’” Guest appearance with Gelonnie Smith, graduate of Smith College and past co-chair of the school’s Black Student Alliance. August 3, 2018.

September 20-21: “Habla LAMADRE: María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Carrie Mae Weems, and Black Feminist Performance.” Edgar P. Richardson Symposium: “New Perspectives on Portraiture.” Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC. The book Beyond the Face: New Perspective on Portraiture will be released on September 20 and will be available at NPG. This event is free to the public, but registration is required.

The National Portrait Gallery’s Scholarly Center, PORTAL= Portraiture + Analysis, has announced the Edgar P. Richardson Symposium “New Perspectives on Portraiture” to be held in the museum’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium Sept. 20 and 21. The two-day event will bring together scholars whose work expands people’s perceptions of the diversity and complexity of portrayal in portraits. Speakers will investigate the power dynamics between artists and their sitters, the manipulation and evolution of portraits as physical objects, the dissemination of images and other aspects of this artistic genre.

October 17-20: “Reframing Michael Jackson Through the Lens of Todd Gray.” Panel: Black Sonic Visuality. Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present Conference. New Orleans, LA. 

Todd Gray worked as Michael Jackson’s personal photographer from 1978 to 1984, photographing the “Jackson 5” beginning in 1974. Gray’s more recent multimedia artwork combines his archive of photographs of Michael Jackson from the 1980s with photographs taken in Ghana, mounting these pastiches in frames from South Central Los Angeles. He re-frames Michael Jackson as not simply a recognizable global figure, but he presents the entertainer as an icon with deep African resonances. Gray forces the viewer to reconceptualize Jackson and his universal appeal as being grounded in his African diasporic existence as reflective in his performance, his fashion, and even his hair.

November 15 at 6 p.m.: It is better to speak of remembering. Panel discussion for the exhibition Alexandria Smith: A Litany for Survival. Faye G., Jo, and James Stone Gallery. 

This panel explores the complex cultural positionality of Black female subjectivity. Approached through an interdisciplinary lens, participants will speak to the experiences and histories of Black women and how these concepts relate to themes present in the exhibition.

Participants include:
Tomashi Jackson, Visual Artist
Ja’Tovia Gary, Artist, filmmaker and 2018-2019 Radcliffe-Harvard Film Study Center Fellow
Nikki A. Greene, Assistant Professor of Art History, Department of Art, Wellesley College
Nontsikelelo Mutiti, Interdisciplinary artist, educator and Assistant Professor in Graphic Design, Virginia Commonwealth University.
Moderated by Alexandria Smith

Alexandria Smith: A Litany for Survival ~ November 8, 2018–January 27, 2019

Opening Reception: Sat., Nov. 10 @ 5:00-7:00 | Stone Gallery | 855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston. Tuesday–Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m.

For other events, visit “What’s Next?”

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