Art association

College Art Association awards artist award to Samella Lewis – ARTnews.com


As part of its annual conference, which runs until February 13, the College Art Association, a United States-based professional organization that promotes scholarships in art history, announced the winners of its price for 2021.

The association’s biggest prize, the Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement, went to Samella Lewis, artist and scholar. Lewis was mentored by Elizabeth Catlett and Charles White, whom she met while studying at Dillard University in New Orleans, and she is best known for creating a large number of figurative works on paper which describe various aspects of the black experience in the United States. His art was included in the Hammer Museum’s acclaimed exhibition “Now Dig This !: Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980”.

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Lewis, the first African-American to earn a doctorate. in Art History from Ohio State University, has also been influential as an art historian, making room for black artists and creating scholarships on their art since the 1970s, a time when the general public often ignored or denigrated their art. His book African-American Art and Artists, first published in 1978, is still considered one of the most important texts on the subject. She has also created documentary films about African American artists like John Outterbridge, Bernie Casey and Richmond Barthé, and co-edited the two-volume book. Black artists on art (1969 and 1971).

Lewis held teaching positions at various universities across the country early in her career. After being a Fulbright Fellow in Taiwan, she moved to Los Angeles in the early 1960s to become a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern California, where she became a mainstay of the city’s arts community.

In 1969, Lewis was hired as an education coordinator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where she advocated for the museum to not only more fully exhibit the work of African-American artists, but to hire them as well. During her tenure there, she co-founded a group called Concerned Citizens for Black Art which created guidelines on how the museum could better serve its community. In the years following his departure from LACMA, Lewis established three art galleries in Los Angeles and founded the Museum of African American Art at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall. She was also professor of art history at Scripps College in Claremont from 1970 to 1984, and organized exhibitions in its museum.

Other CAA award recipients include artist and scholar Deborah Willis, who received the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art; Maren Hassinger, who received the Artist Award for a Distinguished Body of Work; artist Simone Leigh, who received the Distinguished Feminist Award; and Nicole R. Fleetwood, professor of American studies and art history at Rutgers University who won two awards for her book,Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, which was accompanied by an exhibit at MoMA PS1 which is on view until April 4.

The full list of recipients can be found on the CAA website.

Correction, February 13, 2021: An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the name and title of Nicole R. Fleetwood. She’s a professor at Rutgers, not an independent curator, and her second initial is R, not L.


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