PHILADELPHIA (June 12, 2018) -- PAFA President and Chief Executive Officer David R. Brigham, Ph.D has been named a senior advisor to the executive director of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora.
The Driskell Center, led by Prof. Curlee Raven Holton at the University of Maryland, College Park campus, honors the legacy of David C. Driskell, an artist, art historian, collector, curator and philanthropist, by preserving the rich heritage of African American visual art and culture. Established in 2001, the Center is committed to collecting, documenting and presenting African American art as well as replenishing and expanding the field.
"I'm deeply honored—the Center has a great role to play when it comes to promoting African American art," Brigham said. "I look forward to supporting the Center's important mission."
In April, Brigham gave a talk on diversity in higher education in the arts for the Center's 17th Annual Distinguished Lecture in the Visual Arts series. His remarks addressed training artists for the 21st century, changing the face of museums, and diversity's centrality to the mission of our nation's arts institutions, while highlighting PAFA's ongoing commitment to gender and ethnic diversity.
"It was a great opportunity for me to reflect on how we've increased diversity here at PAFA," Brigham said, "and how the art world is changing."
In 1834, PAFA became the first museum in the country to exhibit African American art. In the 1850s, PAFA's Board of Trustees passed a resolution to educate artists of all backgrounds on equal terms. Notable PAFA alumni include May Howard Jackson (the first African American woman to receive a full scholarship to attend PAFA in 1885), Laura Wheeler Raymond, Raymond Saunders, Barkley L. Hendricks, and more recently, Njideka Akunyili Crosby.
Brigham said: "We are deeply committed to racial, ethnic, cultural, gender and artistic diversity in the student body, faculty and staff, and we actively seek to reflect the needs of diverse audiences in our programs, exhibitions, and collections."
In keeping with that commitment, SWARM., an upcoming exhibition showcasing the works of artists Didier William and Nestor Armando Gil, respectively, will travel to the Driskell Center following its run at PAFA. SWARM. is on view at PAFA from June 30—September 9, 2018. William, a Haitian American, is the Chair of PAFA's MFA program. Gil, a Cuban American, is Assistant Professor of Sculpture and Media at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. The collaboration between William and Gil was facilitated by Prof. Holton in his prior role as the founding director of the Experimental Printmaking Institute at Lafayette College.
Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley Hendricks,Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.