Concerning the Spiritual in Art: Lecture at the Tang on April 14

Thursday, 4/14 at 7:30 p.m.

Nikki A. Greene, Ph.D.

Concerning the Spiritual in Art: The Substance of Abstraction

On abstraction, music and painting in the works of Moe Brooker, Beauford Delaney & Alma Thomas.

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.

Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College

The exhibition Alma Thomas is currently on view at the Tang Teaching Museum and is curated by Ian Berry, Dayton Director of the Tang Museum and Lauren Haynes, Associate Curator, Permanent Collection at the Studio Museum, New York. 

Alma Thomas remains at the Tang until June 5. The show opens at theStudio Museum in Harlem on July 14.

Please join us!


Wellesley in Philly for Black Art Experience – Update

This is a long overdue update on my trip to Philadelphia with my Wellesley students on Friday, March 23, 2012.

The walking tour of Philadelphia was a true highlight! Joel Dankoff, architectural historian and Friends Central School high school history teacher (and my dear friend that graduated with me from Wesleyan University), guided us from our hotel, Alexander Inn on S. 12th & Spruce to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a nearly three hour and three mile tour of the city.



There was truly no better way to understand the history of the city of Philadelphia as we were able to go to the top floor of the historic PSFS Building, stand in the interior courtyard of City Hall, pose in Love Park, leading to a wonderful tour at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

City Hall on a beautiful day
Wellesley LOVES Philly

Tour of the American, Modern & Contemporary Collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with Rebecca Mitchell
Dr. Leslie King-Hammond delivering the keynote address, "Ashe to Amen."







We spent the afternoon touring the Philadelphia Museum of Art collections. On Friday night at the PMA, and then all-day Saturday at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the students attended the symposium, Faith, Identity, and History: Representations of Christianity in Modern and Contemporary African American Artfurther enhancing their knowledge and context for African American Art as explored in our seminar. Dr. Leslie King-Hammond,  delivered the keynote address, “Ashe to Amen: Biblical Imagery and The African American Experience.”

Can You Paint FAITH?

Moe Brooker does! I’ve interviewed him, and I believe him. I’ve titled my talk, “To the Glory of God (TTGG): Moe Brooker’s Painted Faith” at the upcoming symposium, Faith, Identity, and History: Representations of Christianity in Modern and Contemporary African American Art,” sponsored by the Association for Scholars of Christianity in Art History (ASCHA). Here’s why…

Throughout his more than four-decade-long career in the arts, Philadelphia native Moe Brooker, has created a distinctive artistic language that calls out to viewers to not only look at his works as arrangements of patterns, colors, and shapes on canvas or paper, but also as investigations into the human spirit. His paintings are as multi-layered and complex as the people who have the opportunity to encounter them. Jazz music and his spiritual grounding, along with his general experiences as an African-American artist have contributed to the energetic, abstract mixed-media paintings. The painting process as a daily devotion for him, he asserts, is “almost like a prayer…and what passes through me is not of my own invention. It comes from the higher Being…It’s not church. This is my private worship.” You’ll have to come to the symposium to hear more (including a recorded duet between him and his wife, Cheryl). The Alumni Sales Gallery at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts will also feature Moe’s work. He’s an inspiration for his students at Moore College of Art & Design. See his poignant and engaging 2010 convocation at Moore (click here). Wouldn’t you love to be his student?!

The Symposium: On Friday, March 23 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art & Saturday, March 24, scholars will explain–and challenge–our understanding of how African American artists painted, sculpted, photographed, and plain ‘ol lived their faith through the expression of visual arts from the turn of the 20th century to the present. The symposium will take place in conjunction with the enthralling exhibition, Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spiritcurated by my University of Delaware grad colleague, Anna O. Marley. Early registration for the symposium ends March 14! The exhibition closes April 15. You don’t want to miss this many Tanners in one room! The New York Times agrees. Read the review of the show.

For more on what I’m art historicizing about this spring, see What’s Next…

Art History Symposium: History, Identity and Faith – March 24-25, 2012

So proud to announce the final schedule for the Association for Scholars of Christianity in the History of Art (ASCHA) Symposium:

History, Identity and Faith: Representations of Christianity in Modern and Contemporary African American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts on Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24, 2012. 

The symposium coincides with the exhibition, Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit at PAFA, curated by my UD colleague, Anna Marley. The show opens on January 28, 2012! Our keynote speaker will be Leslie King-Hammond. She will give a talk at the Philadelphia Museum of Art titled: “From Ashe to Amen: Biblical Imagery and the African American Experience.” Leslie is a renown artist and scholar of African American Art who serves as the Founding Director of the Center for Race and Culture at the Maryland Institute of Art.

I am a co-chair, but I will also give a paper at the symposium on Philadelphia-based artist, Moe Brooker: “To The Glory of God (TTGF): Moe Brooker’s Painted Faith.” I will highlight his deep commitment to his home life, faith, and the importance of music. Moe will have a small show up at PAFA, “Moe Brooker: The Evidence of Things Not Seen” from Feb. 8-April 15, 2012

Please see the brochure below or the ASCHA website for details:

ASCHA Symposium PHL2012

Please Circulate

Lovin’ Me Some Wellesley College

My time at Wellesley College as the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Art History and Africana Studies began this August. This semester, I’ve been devoting my time to my own research on funk music and my upcoming papers on artists Moe Brooker, Romare Bearden, and Radcliffe Bailey (see the “What’s Next” section for more info on these talks). Of course, I have been thrilled to be surrounded by the fellows here at the Newhouse Center for the Humanities. My interactions at the Newhouse are really shaping a lot of my thinking on music, the body, and art history tremendously. Basically, I’m lovin’ this place!

However, I can’t wait to get back in the classroom! I’m teaching a course called “From the Bayou to Boston: African American Art and Identity” this spring. I’m even taking my students to my beloved Philadelphia in March to check out the scene there (and there is a scene to be seen).

Here is a glimpse into a typical Wellesley student engaged with art. Wish me luck!

Art App-reciation at the Davis.

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