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Exhibition Histories

Reshaping the Field: Arts of the African Diasporas on Display

The thirteenth title in the series, this publication explores key moments that have created ruptures in how Blackness has been framed through exhibitions, emphasising how Black artists have been viewed and African diasporic art histories have been shaped.

Contributors: Nana Adusei-Poku, Mora J. Beauchamp- Byrd, Bridget Cooks, Abby Eron, Amber Esseiva, Cheryl Finley, Languid Hands (Imani Robinson and Rabz Lansiquot), Julie McGee, Kobena Mercer, Derek Conrad Murray, Serubiri Moses, Senam Okudzeto, Monique Renee Scott, Jamaal B. Sheats, Richard J. Powell, Howard Michael Singerman, Marlene Smith, Lucy Steeds & Brittany Webb.

ISBN (paperback)


Table of contents

Introduction: Reshaping the Field – Nana Adusei-Poku

Art, Museums and the Fear of a Black Planet – Bridget R. Cooks

Marginalized Legacies and Networks

  • Introduction to Marginalized Legacies and Networks – Richard J. Powell
  • Mapping Art History at the Atlanta University Center – Chervl Finlev
  • Fisk University Galleries – Jamaal B. Sheats
  • Paving the Way: Exhibition History of African American Art at
    the Howard University Gallery of Art – Abby R. Eron

Between Inclusion and Making Space

  • Insisting on Inclusion and Making Space Downtown – Howard Singerman
  • Revisiting Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum – Brittany Webb
  • More than Preamble: Anticipating ‘Two Centuries of Black American Art’ – Julie L. McGee


  • ‘Freestyle’ – How Post-Black Ruptured Black Art – Nana Adusei-Poku
  • Does the Plantation End When the Market Begins? Personal Reflections and More Than a Few Questions in Personal and Public Practice Post-‘Freestyle’ – Senam Okudzeto
  • Blackness on Display: On Racial Fetishism and the Right to Opacity – Derek Conrad Murray

Dialogics of Diaspora

  • Moving Images, Exhibition Histories: Dreaming Rivers and Handsworth Songs – Lucy Steeds
  • The Afterlives of ‘Transforming the Crown’: Black British Art and the Survey Exhibition – Mora J. Beauchamp-Byrd
  • Finding the Room Next to Mine – Marlene Smith in conversation with Claudette Johnson

Curating Black Futures

  • Black Girl: A Plot and a Promise – Amber Esseiva
  • Creating the Histories We Think We’ll Need: Thoughts on Black Futurity – Brittany Webb
  • No Real Closure: Curating Black Futures Now – Languid Hands (Imani Mason Jordan and Rabz Lansiquot)
  • Harmattan Dust – Serubiri Moses
  • Roundtable Conversation: Curating Black Futures Now – Nana Adusei-Poku, Amber Esseiva, Languid Hands (Imani Mason Jordan and Rabz Lansiquot), Serubiri Moses and Brittany Webb

Author biographies





Reshaping the Field: Arts of the African Diasporas on Display

The 268-page publication expands the field of exhibition histories through a selection of pioneering exhibitions that have shaped Black art today. Emphasizing how Black artists have organized, networked and created space for their work, it is the first publication to focus exclusively on African diasporic art in the US and UK through the histories of Black art exhibitions. Through a range of contributions by artists, art historians, curators and theorists, this publication reflects on the sociopolitical circumstances that were essential to the emergence of a field of study and mode of exhibition that is constantly reshaping itself and challenging normative orders. Edited and introduced by Nana Adusei-Poku, with contributions by Mora J. Beauchamp-Byrd, Bridget R. Cooks, Abby R. Eron, Amber Esseiva, Cheryl Finley, Languid Hands (Imani Mason Jordan and Rabz Lansiquot), Julie L. McGee, Derek Conrad Murray, Serubiri Moses, Senam Okudzeto, Richard J. Powell, Jamaal B. Sheats, Howard Singerman, Marlene Smith with Claudette Johnson, Lucy Steeds and Brittany Webb.


Published on occasion of the online event ‘Reshaping the field: Arts of the African Diasporas on Display’, 4–6 Nov, 2021. Organized by Nana Adusei-Poku, then Associate Professor and Luma Scholar at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.

Published by Afterall in 2022 in association with the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College; Asia Art Archive; and the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, University of Gothenburg. Distributed by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König, Cornerhouse Publications and ARTBOOK | D.A.P.

The title is available to purchase here.