Events

All events are free and take place at UMMA unless otherwise noted.

Thu
Dec 2

*** POSTPONED *** Listen In: Big(ger) Ideas in Co-Curation and Equitable Engagement of Cultural Heritage Through Art with Dr. Tonya M. Matthews

This event has been POSTPONED. A new date will be announced soon.

A public keynote presentation from Dr. Tonya Matthews, President and CEO of International African American Museum, will ask curators and other listeners to grapple with an increasing call for bolder conversations in the curation of African American cultural heritage. 

Dr. Tonya Matthews, President and CEO of International African American Museum, will ask us to grapple with increasing expectation for bolder conversations in curation of African American cultural heritage – particularly in considerations of descendants and living history. Is centering stewardship of enslaved African Americans’ craftwork at predominantly white institutions cultural appropriation or long-overdue acknowledgement? What are potential triggers of curating a community’s culture from outside of that geography? Is there any cross-learning in working with donors and working with descendants? Matthews will share learnings and current conversation surrounding the creation of the International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina as context for being on the frontlines of grappling with the intersection of historical and living history.

The event is free and open to the public. It will stream live here: https://ummedia01.umnet.umich.edu/umma/umma120221.html

Sign up to receive a reminder: Click here

This talk is presented in preparation for Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina, an upcoming traveling exhibition focused on the work of African American potters in the 19th-century American South and the contemporary artists who have responded to it. The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. After debuting in New York City, the exhibition will travel to Boston, followed by UMMA in Fall 2023, before the fourth and final venue, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Dr. Tonya M. Matthews is Chief Executive Officer of the International African American Museum (IAAM) at the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, SC. As a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of American history, IAAM is one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism as America continues the walk toward “a more perfect union.” 
A thought-leader in inclusive frameworks, social entrepreneurship, and education, Matthews has written articles and book chapters across these varied subjects. She is founder of The STEMinista Project, a movement to engage girls in their future with STEM careers. Matthews is also a poet and is included in 100 Best African-American Poems (2010) edited by Nikki Giovanni. Matthews received her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and her B.S.E. in engineering from Duke University, alongside a certificate in African/African-American Studies. 

About the exhibition:
Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (September 8, 2022 – February 5, 2023)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (March 6, 2023 – July 9, 2023)
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor (August 26, 2023 – January 7, 2024)
High Museum of Art, Atlanta (February 16, 2024 – May 12, 2024)

Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina is an exhibition focused on the work of African American potters in the 19th-century American South and the contemporary artists who have responded to it. Organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the exhibition is a groundbreaking presentation of approximately 60 ceramic objects from Edgefield, South Carolina, a center of ceramic production in the decades before the Civil War. Considered through the lens of recent scholarship in the fields of history, literature, anthropology, diaspora, material culture, and African American studies, these 19th-century wares testify to the artistic ambitions, lived experiences, and material knowledge of enslaved peoples and the realities of slavery in the industrial context.  

Hear Me Now offers a novel view of an underrepresented aspect of American enslavement, foregrounding objects made by enslaved potters and bringing this important history to larger audiences. Additionally, it aspires to link past to present, in part by including the work of leading contemporary Black artists who have responded to the Edgefield story, such as Simone Leigh and Woody De Othello, among others.

Adrienne Spinozzi, Assistant Curator of American Decorative Arts in the American Wing at The Met, Ethan Lasser, John Moors Cabot Chair of the Art of the Americas at the MFA, and Jason Young, Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan are co-curating this project. They are advised and supported by a national board of artists and scholars who offer invaluable input and perspectives, throughout both the planning and development process.
 

This program is organized in partnership with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the U-M Department of History with support from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the U-M Arts Initiative.