Date: Monday, April 30, 2018
Partner: Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, York University Libraries
Project Member: Susan Jama
Redefining Language in African Art Scholarship exhibition serves as a starting point in understanding the language used to describe, analyze and study African art by various scholars. From the Zdenka Volavka fonds, a selected number of textual objects focuses on ‘unpacking’ the language used to describe African art in literature between the 1900s and 1980s. The exhibition encourages the visitors to closely examine the tone of language used to write about African art.
Given the partnership with Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections (CTASC), the intended audience is specialized, primarily consisting of York University students, faculty and African art academics. The exhibition will also be of interest to students entering into the new Black Canadian Studies Undergraduate Certificate and, studying African art. The Zdenka Volavka Fonds is one of the few fonds that specialized in collecting visual art literature related to Africa.
Regarding the development of this exhibition, Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, York University Libraries, provided research aid, subject experts, unrestricted access to fonds, digitalization of textual records and technological assistance. Moreover, Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections is promoting the exhibition on their social media including Twitter and blog page. Furthermore, the Faculty of Information has contributed to this exhibition by providing museological guidance and grant funding.
Preparation for this exhibition began in October 2017. From the conception to the realization phrase in developing the digital exhibition, it took seven months and more than 100 hours of work. During the curatorial research phrase, it was an exciting experience to read archival resources (published or unpublished journal articles, manuscripts, conference papers) written about African art between the 1890s to 1980s. As an individual part of the African diaspora, it was fascinating to see the transformative shift in language from the 1890s to 1980s.
Writing, editing and receiving feedback on the exhibition panels draft and object labels took place over the past four months. Besides, at the beginning of February, I began to construct the online exhibition using Scalar as the digital platform. Meanwhile, Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections digitalized the textual objects and assisted in building the digital exhibition. It was an exciting and learning opportunity to work with Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections. This digital exhibition launch on Monday, April 30, 2018.
I would like to thank my project partner, Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, especially Katrina Cohen-Palacios. Katrina was a fantastic exhibition supervisor as she provided helpful suggestion and excellent advice throughout the development of my exhibition. I would also like to thank my course supervisor, Prof. Matthew Brower, and my awesome TAs, Rebecca Noone and Camille-Mary Sharp, for their support throughout the completion of this exhibition.