DiverseWorks’ Associate Curator Rachel Cook has been awarded one of four Warhol Foundation Curatorial Fellowships! Launched in 2008, these fellowships are designed to “encourage curatorial research leading to new scholarship in the field of contemporary art.” Rachel’s award, in the amount of $40,000, will support travel, archival research, meetings with colleagues, interviews, and time to write. Congratulations, Rachel!!
In 1935 the American photographer Walker Evans was commissioned by Alfred Barr at the Museum of Modern Art to produce a portfolio of images from MoMA’s exhibition African Negro Art (1935). Evans’s photographs were produced in order to document the African objects and present them as works of art connected to the Western art historical tradition rather than as ethnographic objects or artifacts. To what extent can the photographs be read as evidence or as documents, and to what extent is a western modernist narrative imposed upon them? What is the relationship between the photographs and their objects? The Evans images act as a catalyst for revealing these concerns and providing a new context for scholarship regarding the object and the photograph.
The research will culminate in a large scale exhibition at DiverseWorks in 2017, and an accompanying publication. There will also be a series of panel discussions and discursive collaborations with the Menil Collection, which owns over 1000 African objects, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which owns a portfolio of the Evans prints.
The Andy Warhol Foundation has been a longtime supporter of DiverseWorks, typically granting between $80,000 and $180,000 to be used over the course of two year periods. DiverseWorks is also, along with Aurora Picture Show and Project Row Houses, a partner organization with the Warhol Foundation that facilitates the Foundation’s regional re-granting initiative.
Above: Installation view of Perfect Objects (2000), an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that brought together Evans’s images and the objects he photographed.
Further information about Rachel’s project from the Warhol Foundation’s website:
In 1935, Walker Evans was commissioned to make a portfolio of prints documenting MoMA’s exhibition African Negro Art which displayed African objects as works of art connected to the Modernist tradition, rather than as ethnographic artifacts. Rachel Cook, associate curator at DiverseWorks, will research the history and shifting narratives around Evans’ photographs over time. First, she will visit MoMA’s archives in New York to study documents pertaining to the original exhibition and to the 1984 show Primitivism in the 20th Century. She will visit the Metropolitan Museum’s archives to research Perfect Documents: Walker Evans and African Art, 1935 (2000), in which the suite of prints was shown alongside a selection of the originally photographed objects. Cook will then travel to Africa for two weeks, visiting Nigeria, Cote D’Ivorie, and Gabon in order to learn more about the objects’ origins. Additionally, through a series of studio visits with artists in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, and New Orleans, Cook will explore how the Evans photographs have been scrutinized, critiqued and appropriated by contemporary artists. She will invite 10 artists to Houston for facilitated discussions and collaborative research into Evans’ photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and African objects at the Menil Collection. This will lay the groundwork for a future exhibition at Diverseworks. Artists under consideration include Regina Agu, Kevin Beasley, Julia Brown, Jamal Cyrus and Otabenga Jones & Associates, Danielle Dean, Malik Gaines and My Barbarian, Sharon Hayes, Simon Leigh, Wura Natasha Ogunji, Okwui Okpokwasili, Tameka Norris, Shani Peters, Emily Roysdon, and Adam Schreiber.