Panel Discussion: Collecting and Exhibiting Modern African Art

March 10, 2023
5:30 pm
Steinberg Auditorium

As part of the opening festivities for African Modernism in America, exhibition co-curators Perrin Lathrop, assistant curator of African art at the Princeton University Art Museum, and Jamaal Sheats, gallery director and curator, and professor of art at Fisk University, are joined by Bukky Gbadegesin, associate professor of art history at Saint Louis University, for a discussion exploring histories of collecting and displaying modern African art in the United States, including the 1961 landmark exhibition Art from Africa of Our Time organized by the Harmon Foundation and the role of Fisk University in exhibiting African artists of the mid-twentieth century.

Free and open to the public. Register here >>

The event will be recorded. Sign language interpreters can be requested; two weeks' notice is required. Please email

Kemper Art Museum members and WashU faculty, staff, and students are invited to preview the exhibition at 4:30 pm prior to the panel discussion. The public opening follows the discussion.

About the speakers

Olubukola “Bukky” Gbadegesin, PhD, is associate professor in the Art History and African American Studies programs at Saint Louis University. Her research is focused on photography, portraiture, political history, the politics of representation, and print culture in Africa and the diaspora. She has published papers in Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, African Arts, and History of Photography, to name a few. In addition to a recent book chapter in African Print Cultures (University of Michigan Press, 2016), Gbadegesin is currently working on a book manuscript titled Picturing Lagos: A Long History of Photography in Lagos, Nigeria, 1861–1966.

Perrin Lathrop, PhD, is assistant curator of African art at Princeton University Art Museum. She previously was the Warhol Foundation curatorial fellow at Fisk University Galleries (2018–19) and a postdoctoral fellow in modern and contemporary art history at the University of Maryland–Phillips Collection (2021–22). She earned her PhD from Princeton University in the Department of Art & Archaeology with a Graduate Certificate in African American Studies in 2021. Her research and teaching explore the interlocking intellectual histories and networks of nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and modernism that informed art produced under the strictures of colonialism in Africa. Lathrop is co-curator of the traveling exhibition African Modernism in America with Fisk University Galleries and the American Federation of Arts.

Jamaal B. Sheats, MFA, is the associate provost of Art & Culture and assistant professor in the Department of Art at Fisk University, and director & curator of Fisk University Galleries. Since joining the Galleries in 2015, he has curated nearly two dozen exhibitions, established the Fisk Museum Leadership initiative, expanded and nurtured partnerships, implemented innovative programs to foster access to and engagement with the collections. Sheats is a trustee of the Frist Art Museum and board member of the HBCU Alliance of Museums and Galleries and TriStar Arts, and chairman of the Maddox Fund. Sheats has previously served of the board of the Arts and Business Council and the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries. He earned an MFA from Tufts University and BS in art from Fisk University.

Image credit

Skunder Boghossian (b. 1937, Ethiopia; d. 2003, United States), Three Faces, c. 1960. Oil on canvas, 14 1/2 x 21 3/8 in. Fisk University Galleries, Nashville, Gift of the Harmon Foundation. Courtesy American Federation of Arts.