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RESEARCH

Arts and humanities research represents a range of disciplines and distinctive modes of knowledge and methods that result in articles and books, ideas, exhibitions, performances, artifacts, and more. This deliberate and dedicated work generates deep insights into the multi-faceted people and cultures of the world past and present. 

Whether individual or collaborative, funded or unfunded, learn how our faculty are leading national networks and conferences, providing research frameworks, engaging students, traversing international archives and making significant contributions to UMD's research enterprise. Learn more about the college's research goals.        

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You Can Fly and Make Prints Too: The Experimental Printmaking Institute 1996-2016

Essays by Curlee Raven Holton, Julie L. McGee, David R. Brigham, and Diane Windham Shaw.

David C. Driskell Center for the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora

Dates:

Essays by Curlee Raven Holton, Julie L. McGee, David R. Brigham, and Diane Windham Shaw. 

Since its founding in 1996, the Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI) at Lafayette College has passionately advocated for printmaking as an indispensable component of cultural and creative engagement. Combining traditional printmaking techniques with experimental approaches, EPI is committed to advancing this dynamic art form and expanding our visual language. At the heart of this groundbreaking program are artist residencies that, to date, have yielded more than 350 editions by artists such as Faith Ringgold, Richard Anuszkiewicz, David C. Driskell, Grace Hartigan, and Sam Gilliam. A two decade history of EPI, You Can Fly and Make Prints Too also celebrates EPI’s creative impact and the vision of its founding director, master printmaker and David M. ’70 and Linda Roth Professor of Art, Curlee Raven Holton, who will be retiring in 2017.

William T. Williams: Variations on Themes

William T. Williams: Variations on Themes features 31 original lithographs, works on paper, and sculptures at the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at UMD.

David C. Driskell Center for the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora

Dates:

William T. Williams: Variations on Themes features 31 original lithographs, works on paper, and sculptures at the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland. Variations on Themes will be on view from March 31 through May 28, 2010. The public opening reception will be held on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 from 5 to 7 PM at the Driskell Center’s gallery, 1207 Cole Student Activities Building. 

Williams, who emerged in New York City during the 1960s and 1970s, is one of the most important artists working in abstraction today. He often incorporates childhood memories and life experiences into his artwork through colors, shapes and patterns. Curated by Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims, Curator of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, NY, Variations on Themes highlights four decades of William T. Williams’ work as a printmaker. The exhibition focuses on four basic compositional and thematic approaches, often highlighting Williams’ iconic imagery of the diamond/trapezoid; conical vessel shapes, orbs, serpentine elements and biomorphic presences; and patterns and textural effects within the individual segments. The exhibition illustrates Williams’ artistic journey, which has been as spontaneous as it has been methodical; as formal as it was free-wielding; as rich as it has been sparse.

Willie Cole: On Site

Willie Cole: On Site presents highlights from the body of work by contemporary African American artist Willie Cole.

David C. Driskell Center for the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora

Dates:

The David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland is proud to announce its fall exhibition, Willie Cole: On Site, presenting highlights from the body of work by contemporary African American artist Willie Cole. The exhibition is organized by the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora, and is co-curated by the David C. Driskell Center’s Deputy Director, Dorit Yaron, and Executive Director, Professor Curlee R. Holton. The exhibition will be on display at the Driskell Center from September 22nd through November 18th, 2016, with an opening reception on Thursday, September 22nd, from 5-7PM. The exhibition will be accompanied by a printed publication with an introduction and essays from the curators and scholar Sherri Irvin, Ph.D., the Presidential Research Professor of Philosophy and Women’s and Gender Studies, and Co-Director of the Center for Social Justice, at the University of Oklahoma, Norman.

In 2017, Willie Cole: On Site will begin its national tour; from April 7th through July 2nd, 2017, the exhibition will be featured at the Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and beginning in October 2017, it will be on display at the University of New Hampshire’s Museum of Art, Durham. It will continue its tour to other locations soon after.

The exhibition features nineteen three-dimensional artworks, which Cole created from 2006 through 2016, and focuses on three main materials: found wood, used shoes, and recycled water bottles. Two of those materials, shoes and water bottles, represent objects that we use and discard. They contain residue from the individuals who have used those objects; the shoe keeps the shape, sweat, and smell of the person who wore it, while the bottles contain the individual’s DNA (breath, spit, and soul). A site-specific installation of a 20’ diameter ‘chandelier’ made of close to 5,000 recycled water bottles will be centered in the Driskell Center’s gallery, including a video documenting the creation of the ‘chandelier’. On his website, the artist states, “The idea of chandeliers made from recycled water bottles first came to me in a dream about 3 years ago. In that dream I saw one suspended in a void, with an image of Buddha inside each bottle. It was, I believed at that time, a message about purity, love, and unity. But upon waking I realized that it was also about the environment. Each day 20 billion bottles are added to landfills across the globe…”

Willie Cole is known for transforming ordinary objects, such as bicycle parts, irons, and shoes into works of art, alluding to the African American experience inspired by West African religion. Known for his strong use of imagery, one of Cole’s most prominent symbols, the steam iron, represents subjects ranging from the domestic role of women of color to the Yoruba god of iron and war, Ogun. Professor Curlee R. Holton describes Cole’s work as follows: “Willie Cole is one of the most creative and original artists working today. His iconic archetypal images penetrate our consciousness to connect to a primal source in each of us. He is masterful in how he can take a common object like well-worn shoes and resurrect from them a new spirit and meaning. He refashions impoverished objects from our world of the discarded and disowned with a self-assured agency of transformation to assert his own vision of art and beauty.”

Robert Blackburn: Passages

Robert Blackburn: Passages features 90 works by Blackburn and thirteen works by his contemporaries such as Charles Alston, Will Barnet, Grace Hartigan, Robin Holder, and Romare Bearden.

David C. Driskell Center for the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora

Dates:

The David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland is pleased to organize the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition of influential artist and master printmaker Robert Hamilton Blackburn (1920-2003): Robert Blackburn: Passages. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Deborah Cullen, Director & Chief Curator, The Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University in the City of New York; with contributions by Prof. Curlee R. Holton, Executive Director, David C. Driskell Center. 

Robert Blackburn: Passages features 90 works by Blackburn and thirteen works by his contemporaries such as Charles Alston, Will Barnet, Grace Hartigan, Robin Holder, and Romare Bearden. Passages will include works on loan from the Library of Congress, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts’ Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, The Cochran Collection, The Nelson/Dunks Collection, and Metropolitan Transit Authority Arts for Transit and Urban Design, and others. The exhibition will be on display at the Driskell Center from September 18th through December 19th 2014. The exhibition will start its national tour on January 2015 and will travel thereafter. 

A retrospective of Blackburn's work is long overdue. A “printmaker’s printmaker,” Blackburn affected the course of twentieth-century graphic through his own work, as well as through the institution which he founded in New York City in 1948, The Printmaking Workshop—the oldest and largest print workshop in the United States until 2001. Blackburn’s “passages” through the modern and contemporary print world are complex and unique, and he is a bridge between the Works Project Administration (WPA) and the “print explosion” of the 1960s. 

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Driskell Center has published an exhibition catalogue which is the first significant monograph of Robert Blackburn’s work. The catalogue includes color reproductions of each work in the exhibition, as well as essays by Prof. Curlee R. Holton and curator Dr. Deborah Cullen, whose monographic text is an excerpt from her dissertation, Robert Blackburn: American Printmaker, 2002 (The Graduate Center of the City University of New York).

Portraits of Who We Are

This exhibition has been developed to address the ways in which African American artists portray themselves, their communities, and their culture.

David C. Driskell Center for the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora

Dates:

There are relatively few exhibitions of self-portraits by African American artists; this exhibition has been developed to address the ways in which African American artists portray themselves, their communities, and their culture. Portraits provide the viewing audience with documentation of the existence of the subject and the cultural and social setting, while revealing multiple aspects of a deeper view of our collective human evolution and shared humanity.

Narratives of African American Art and Identity The David C. Driskell Collection

Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection, contains essays contextualizing the exhibition objects, as well as Driskell's activity as scholar and collector, within the broader arena of American art.

David C. Driskell Center for the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora

Dates:

The exhibition catalogue, Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection, contains essays contextualizing the exhibition objects, as well as Driskell's activity as scholar and collector, within the broader arena of American art. Art history scholars Juanita Holland, Sharon Patton, Richard Powell, Allan Gordon, and Keith Morrison apply a contemporary lens to Driskell's efforts as artist, critic, mentor, and collector. Object entries for each of the 100 works in the exhibition contextualize specific works within the larger picture of the artist's life and career, connecting them with the various societal influences surrounding their creation. Each object entry is accompanied by a color reproduction. The catalogue serves as a valuable reference guide to over a century of African American art and provides a chronology of the life and career of each artist and an extensive bibliography.

Limited Editions: Joseph Holston Prints, 1974-2010, A Retrospective

Limited Editions: Joseph Holston Prints, 1974-2010, A Retrospective features 72 prints by Maryland based artist Joseph Holston.

David C. Driskell Center for the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora

Dates:

Limited Editions: Joseph Holston Prints, 1974-2010, A Retrospective organized by the David C. Driskell Center and co-curated by Lisa Hodermarsky, the Stuphin Family Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Yale University Art Gallery and Dr. Robert E. Steele, Executive Director of the David C. Driskell Center, the exhibition features 72 prints by Maryland based artist Joseph Holston. The exhibition is presented at the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland. Limited Editions will open on Thursday, April 21, 2011, with a reception from 5pm to 6:30pm. The Tenth Annual David C. Driskell Distinguished Lecture in the Visual Arts; Jock Reynolds, The Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale University Art Gallery, is to present his lecture “Afro-American Presence in American Art: From the Battle of Bunker Hill to Now,” at the Driskell Center on Thursday, April 21, 2011, beginning at 6:30pm, immediately following the exhibition opening reception. The exhibition will stay on display at the Driskell Center until Friday, June 17, 2011. The Gallery will be open three additional Saturdays, May 7, May 21 and June 11, 2011 from 11am - 4pm. 

Limited Editions, features a view into the life and works of Joseph Holston. Throughout his career, his colorful screenprints, black and white etchings, and collagraphs have been able to express emotions which viewers are able to immediately identify with. As noted by curator Lisa Hodermarsky, “…along with this simplification of form came a heightening of expressiveness in Holston’s work: of movement, emotion, and feeling. Even the artist’s monochrome etchings became increasingly more colorful as the years passed, and as the forms and lines became more simplified they simultaneously took on a more emotive form of expressiveness.” 

The exhibition, featuring prints from 1974 to 2010, highlights “Holston’s ongoing quest for a mastery of line, color and form in printmaking,” as described in Prof. Driskell’s words. Limited Editions also includes four copper plates, four color separation plates, and seven progressive prints for the etching Man in Boat, highlighting the creative process of printmaking. Commissioned by the David C. Driskell Center, Man in Boat was a collaboration between Joseph Holston and Prof. Curlee R. Holton, the David M. '70 and Linda Roth Professor of Art and Founder of Experimental Printing Institute at Lafayette College at Easton, PA. In addition, Limited Editions includes works from Color in Freedom: Journey along the Underground Railroad, one of his most recent accomplishments. Color in Freedom tells the story of the crusade to reach freedom through the Underground Railroad. The series is presented in four parts: “The Unknown World”; “Living in Bondage–Life on the Plantation”; “The Journey of Escape”; and “Color in Freedom;” each enticing the viewers’ emotions through his extraordinary use of color as well as expressive line and form. Holston’s Color in Freedom series was inspired by his appreciation for symphonic structure, as he was listening to classical music, as well as jazz, while creating the series. Effortlessly leading viewers through this journey, Holston’s works celebrate all phases of life.

Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David C. Driskell

Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David C. Driskell includes more than seventy five prints by Driskell as well as several works on paper which will provide insight into Driskell's artistic process and development.

David C. Driskell Center for the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora

Dates:

Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David C. Driskell highlights for the first time the prints of the renowned Distinguished University of Maryland Professor Emeritus of Art, David C. Driskell, an Artist, Art Historian, Collector, Curator, Educator, and one of the most recognized and respected names in the world of African American art and culture. 

Organized by the David C. Driskell Center, “Evolution” is the inaugural exhibition of the David C. Driskell Center at its new home in Cole Student Activities Building (aka Cole Field House). 

The exhibition includes more than seventy five prints by Driskell as well as several works on paper which will provide insight into Driskell's artistic process and development. In addition, the exhibition includes several woodblocks used to produce the prints. “Evolution” is curated by the David C. Driskell Center's Curator-in-Residence, Dr. Adrienne L. Childs, a graduate of the Department of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Maryland, College Park. 

Prof. Driskell studied at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and received his undergraduate degree in art at Howard University (1955) and a Masters in Fine Arts degree from Catholic University (1962). He joined the faculty of the Department of Art at the University of Maryland in 1977 and served as its Chair from 1978-1983. He has been a practicing artist since the 1950s and his works are in major museums throughout the world, including the National Gallery of Art, the High Museum of Art, and Yale University Art Gallery, to name a few. In 1976, Driskell curated the groundbreaking exhibit “Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750-1950” which laid the foundation for the field of African American Art History. Since 1977, Prof. Driskell has served as cultural advisor to Camille O. and William H. Cosby and as the curator of the Cosby Collection of Fine Arts. In 2000, in a White House Ceremony, Prof. Driskell received the National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton. In 2007, he was elected as a National Academician by the National Academy.

Double Exposure: African Americans Before and Behind the Camera

Double Exposure: African Americans Before and Behind the Camera, showcases 90 vintage photographs from the Amistad Center for Art & Culture’s historical collection of art and artifacts with photo-based art by contemporary African-American artists.

David C. Driskell Center for the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora

Dates:

Double Exposure: African Americans Before and Behind the Camera, showcases 90 vintage photographs from the Amistad Center for Art & Culture’s historical collection of art and artifacts with photo-based art by contemporary African-American artists. The exhibition Organized by the Amistad Center for Art and Culture at Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of art in Hartford, CT, opens to the public at the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland on Thursday, January 20, 2011. An opening reception will be held on Wednesday January 19, 2011 from 5pm to 7pm. The exhibition will stay on view until Friday, March 11, 2011. The Gallery will be open two additional Saturdays, February 5 and February 26, 2011 from 11am - 4pm. Please Note: Entrance to the Driskell Center is through the set of doors under the Driskell Center sign. 

Double Exposure, curated by guest curators Lisa Henry and Frank Mitchell, illuminates the persistent interplay between the past and the present in African American photography. The exhibition highlights and explores the African American experience by bringing together photographic works from the 19th and 20th centuries by artists who expressed the experience of race through the use of personal, cultural and historical images. The exhibit delves into the interconnected reality of the past and the present for African American photography as well as concepts of identity and memory through visually theorizing the shifting relationships between black cultural memory and contemporary photographic storytelling.

Creative Spirit: The Art of David C. Driskell

Creative Spirit: The Art of David C. Driskell features 60 works, completed from the late 1950s-2010, which represent Driskell’s transition through a multiplicity of media in his artwork throughout the past 60 years.

David C. Driskell Center for the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora

Dates:

Creative Spirit: The Art of David C. Driskell, is co-curated by Dr. Adrienne L. Childs, Independent Scholar, and Dr. Julie L. McGee, Curator of African American Art, University Museums, University of Delaware, and the author of David C. Driskell: Artist and Scholar (Petaluma: Pomegranate, 2006). The exhibition features 60 works, completed from the late 1950s-2010, which represent Driskell’s transition through a multiplicity of media in his artwork throughout the past 60 years. Creative Spirit opens to the public at the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland on September 15, 2011, with an opening reception from 5pm to 7pm. The program includes an hour long conversation between Professor David C. Driskell and Artist Carrie Mae Weems. In addition to Driskell’s artworks presented in Creative Spirit, the Center will display about 15 photographs taken by New York-based photographer Frank Stewart which depict David C. Driskell over the course of four decades. David C. Driskell through the Lens of Photographer Frank Stewart will be on display in the Center’s Gallery lobby. The exhibition will stay on display until Friday, December 16, 2011. The Gallery will be open three additional Saturdays, October 22, November 12 and December 10, 2011 from 11am - 4pm. 

Creative Spirit, reveals the totality of Driskell’s artistic practice, celebrating a life lived in the service of what he often refers to as his “priestly calling.” The exhibition highlights and explores seminal themes: Americana, Africana, nature, self-portrait as memoir, celestial music, and the figure. In an interview with co-curator Julie L. McGee, Driskell comments, “Color, my love of nature, and African iconography have all remained vital to my work.” At times inspired by racial politics and at other times by his long held comfort in nature, all of his works display the truly creative spirit of David C. Driskell. Co-Curator Adrienne L. Childs states, “Driskell lives his life in tune with the rhythms of the natural world, which represents for him more than just a subject or a decorative motif.” Driskell takes annual trips to Maine where the natural beauty of the area has inspired him time and time again.