September 25: Dr. Bridget Cooks Lecture, “Conjure: Art and the Black Supernatural”

Monday, September 25th, 2023: Special Lecture: “Conjure: Art and the Black Supernatural” by Dr. Bridget Cooks, University of California, Irvine

Reception: 5:00–6:00pm | Lecture: 6:00–7:15pm Location: Chazen Museum of Art (750 University Ave. Madison, WI)

Talk Abstract
In the public lecture, “Conjure: Art and the Black Supernatural,” Prof. Cooks will discuss visual expressions of faith and the supernatural as a quotidian feature of African American culture. Beginning with the presence of paranormal sensory communication during the enslavement period, Cooks will address spiritually inspired visions and magic as critical to the struggle for racial freedom over time. For many artists, the supernatural is one explanation for the resilience of Black people. It offers hope for complete liberation in future worlds. Examples of artworks from the nineteenth century to the present will be featured.

Bridget R. Cooks is a scholar and curator of American art. Her research focuses on visual art by African Americans, Black visual culture, and museum criticism. She serves as Chancellor’s Fellow and Professor of African American Studies and Art History at the University of California, Irvine. She is core faculty in the PhD Programs in Visual Studies and Culture and Theory. Her books, articles, and essays can be found widely across interdisciplinary academic publications and art exhibition catalogues. She is most well-known as the author of the book, Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum (UMass, 2011) which received the inaugural James A. Porter & David C. Driskell Book Award in African American Art History.

Cooks’ first career was in museum education. In this capacity she worked at the Oakland Museum of California, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Cooks has curated several exhibitions including, Grafton Tyler Brown: Exploring California, (2018) at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, Ernie Barnes: A Retrospective at the California African American Museum (2019) (CAAM), The Black Index (four venue national tour), Dissolve (Langson IMCA, University Art Gallery, UC Irvine) and Lava Thomas: Homecoming (2022) at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art.

She has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships from organizations including the Ford Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, Southern Poverty Law Center, Getty Research Institute, and California Humanities.

In addition to the Department of Art History, this lecture is sponsored by: The Chazen Museum of Art, Art Department, Center for Design and Material Culture, Center for the Humanities, Center for Research on Women and Gender, Center for Visual Cultures, Department of African American Studies, Division of the Arts, Institute for Research in the Humanities, Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives.