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Dr. Joan Kee, Art History Talk

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

2:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Experience an enlightening Art History discussion with Dr. Joan Kee, featured as a distinguished speaker in the University of Houston School of Art Speaker Series.

The School of Art Speaker Series invites visiting artists to share their journeys, insights and works with students and community members alike. Distinguished guests offer a range of perspectives on the most pertinent issues facing today’s makers and scholars. The series is a key component of students’ experience at the School of Art. In addition to presenting their work to a large audience of students and community members, speakers spend extended periods engaging directly with students in small gatherings for focused debate and conversation, in formats tailored to their individual practice. Join us in exploring the world of art through the eyes of those who shape it.

Dr. Joan Kee is a professor in the History of Art at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on how modern and contemporary artworks challenge our understanding of words like “world,” “value,” “abstraction,” and “scale.” Published in 2023, her latest book The Geometries of Afro Asia: Art Beyond Solidarity, asks how we might tell a history of art that begins with the global majority, spanning Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe. Kee is a contributing editor at Artforum, an editor at large for the Brooklyn Rail, as well on the advisory boards of Art History, the Oxford Art Journal, Modernism/modernity, and Art Margins. She was the Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor of Art History at Williams College in 2021, a 2019 Kresge Artist Fellow, and a 2022–23 Ford Scholar at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Lecture title: “The Geometries of Afro Asia”
Comprising the regions that more than 80% of the world call home, Afro Asia came to the political fore in the mid-1950s, calling for accelerated decolonization on the one hand and rejecting Cold War polarization on the other. Building on this history, this talk mobilizes Afro Asia as as an epistemological grounds for rethinking geographical, social, and aesthetic worlds primarily through the worlds Black and Asian artists have catalyzed through their work. Figuring space and time as open questions of geometry and not consequences of top-down linear thinking, works by artists including Nobukho Nqaba, Musquiqui Chihying, Senga Nengudi, Ming Wong, and Tuan Andrew Nguyen defy dominant political, social, disciplinary, and geographical demarcations and address a resurgent crisis of imagination that admit artworks as morally and politically credible only when they perform representationally. More than a call for inclusivity or a revisionist approach to art history and its methods, I argue that Afro Asia is itself a means of thinking about lives and futures beyond survival and even solidarity.

Joan Kee
Dudley Recital Hall University of Houston
UH School of Art 
4188 Elgin Street, Room 100
Houston, Texas 77204