I am always looking for activities that make art history relevant to my students as well as disturb the problematic ways in which our discipline has been framed. Students respond enthusiastically when they are allowed to delve into current events that connect with art’s histories. In order to facilitate what can be heated conversations I…
Helen M. Shannon, Ph.D., flanked by Dr. David Milburn and Cecile Keith Brown, date unknown. Source: Dr. David Milburn Legacy Award webpage. Photographer’s name not known.
It is with deep sadness that we report the passing of Helen M. Shannon, Ph.D. The photo was likely taken when Helen worked in the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Education Department, 1976-87, according to her LinkedIn page.
We have suffered a profound loss in our field and it will be felt among those with whom she worked. A few years back, a former student wrote that Helen Shannon had been an important mentor, calling her “one of the most inspirational career driven women I have ever met. I have never had a professor who has pushed me so hard to succeed, and I will be forever grateful to the role she has played in the development of my career as I pursue my Master’s Degree.” Helen inspired many of us, and she will not be forgotten.
Mark Campbell of the University of Arts, where Helen was Associate Professor and Director of the M.A. Program in Museum Studies, has written this account of his colleague:
“It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden passing of
Associate Professor Helen Shannon. Helen has been a well-respected
member of the UArts faculty since joining the University in 2006,
directing the Museum Education program within Museum Studies, and
since fall 2013 serving as coordinator of Graduate Studies. An
accomplished educator and museum professional, Helen has had a deep
and lasting effect on the scholarship and professional training in her
Helen received a BA from Stanford University, an MA from the
University of Chicago, and a PhD from Columbia University – all in Art
History. Her dissertation was titled “Race and cultural nationalism in
the American modernist reception of African art.” Notable
professional appointments include executive director of the New Jersey
State Museum and educator in charge, Office of Public Programs, at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art. Freelance curatorial work includes “In the
Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” a
Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition, and “Biennial 2000: At
the Crossroads,” for the African American Museum in Philadelphia.
In 2015 Helen published, “Norman Lewis: Presence and Absence” as part
of “Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis” (University of California
Press – Ruth Fine Editor). She was in the process of completing an
important book in the field of Museum Education, “History and
Understanding of Museum Learning.” Active in the museum world through
lectures and symposia, Helen has served on many boards including
current appointments with the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums and
the African American Museum. She was also an ongoing member of the
African American Collection Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of
Within the UArts community and beyond, Helen was a respected scholar,
known for her integrity, grace and solid professionalism. She
instilled in her many students a tenacious work ethic, deep respect
for knowledge, and an awareness of the central role that museums play
in the enrichment of our lives.
An event celebrating the life of Helen Shannon will be announced to
the community in the coming weeks.”
– –Mark Campbell, Dean
College of Art, Media & Design
The University of the Arts
320 Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
IMAGE BELOW: From the award-winning exhibition catalogue, Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis (2015). Source: GoogleBooks.
On the 10th of October 1935, George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess opened in the Alvin Theatre on Broadway, New York. A few years earlier, Singer Al Jolson attempted to musicalise the story starring as a comic blackface Porgy, his minstrel shows, an unacceptable racist concept nowadays. The Broadway opening was unprecedented in U.S. history due to […]
Augustus Washington (1820/21-1875) was “the son of a South Asian immigrant” a formally enslaved black Virginian, according to this article published in The Dartmouth Alumni Magazine this spring. Washington studied at Dartmouth, entering with the class of 1847. There, on the Hanover, New Hampshire campus, Washington learned how to make daguerreotypes. Washington and Dempsey R. Fletcher were the only students of African descent at Dartmouth in 1843-44.
Washington’s portrait of John Brown (circa 1846-47) is well-known. Yet there are no confirmed images of Washington himself. Photo historians have been searching and writing about Washington for decades, and the published literature on Washington continues to grow.
“Advertisement from The Hartford Daily Courant, October 8, 1852. This ad shows the world having its picture taken at Washington’s studio.” – Image, Connecticut Historical Society
Wilson Jeremiah Moses’ Liberian Dreams: Back to Africa Narratives from the 1850s (Penn State University Press, 2010) provides the opportunity to hear Washington’s voice through his written words. Before his migration to Liberia in 1853, Washington wrote this letter to an US newspaper. In Liberia, Washington was a photographer, a sugar cane planter and landowner, and a politician. (Washington’s Dartmouth classmate, Dempsey R. Fletcher, mentioned above, also had lived in Liberia as boy and returned there after studying at Dartmouth.) The African Colonization Movement is a complex subject, and Washington’s images of its key figures helps us think about “what” Africa was and is.
On the 6th of March 1943, iconic painter and illustrator of American culture Norman Rockwell, published Freedom from Want or The Thanksgiving Picture in The Saturday Evening Post, one of over 300 covers he produced for the Indianapolis publication during his lifetime. It was the third of four oil paintings known as the Four Freedoms inspired by […]
On the 30th of January 1913, famous Indian painter Amrita Sher-Gil was born to a Hungarian Jewish opera singer mother and a Punjabi Sikh aristocrat father in Budapest, Hungary. She trained at an early age at Santa Annunziata art school in Florence, then at 16 in Paris at Grande Chaumière under Pierre Vaillant and Lucien […]
The Association of Critical Race Art History (ACRAH) is excited to announce a new feature on our website: a bibliographic resource devoted to issues of race, ethnicity, art, and visual culture. Please visit Bibliographies to view.
In conjunction with the launch of this resource, a series of reading groups are being organized in New York, the Bay Area, Washington D.C., and Boston. The primary purpose of these groups are to give area scholars an opportunity to discuss key texts pertaining to the visualization and representation of races and the project of racialization in art and visual culture. If you are interested in participating in an established group, or would like to start a group in your area, please visit Reading Groups for additional information.
In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month, the Museum of the City of New York is exhibiting a portrait of Dr. Aubré de Lambert Maynard, by artist Yun Gee. Dr. Maynard is best remembered today for his role in helping to save Dr. King life’s after an assassination attempt in […]
Check out @hyperallergic’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/hyperallergic/status/813744006114971648?s=09
New Digital Project: First Blacks in the Americas: