Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Mary Schmidt Campbell, PhD,  in conversation with artist Melvin Edwards

An American Odyssey:
The Life and Work of Romare Bearden
(Oxford University Press)

by Mary Schmidt Campbell, PhD

Join Mary Schmidt Campbell, PhD, President of Spelman College and artist Melvin Edwards for a reading and discussion on her definitive biography of one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. As Dr. Campbell shows us in this immersive biography, the relationship between art and race was central to his life and work ̶ a constant, driving creative tension. Dr. Campbell's book offers a full and vibrant account of Bearden's life ̶ his years in Harlem (his studio was above the Apollo theater), to his travels and commissions, along with illuminating analysis of his work and artistic career. Campbell, who met Bearden in the 1970s, was among the first to compile a catalogue of his works. An American Odyssey goes far beyond that, offering a living portrait of an artist and the impact he made upon the world he sought both to recreate and celebrate.
Co-sponsored by New York Institute for the Humanities and Office of the Dean, Tisch School of the Arts

Time: 6:00 pm
Location: NYU Law School, D’Agostino Hall, Room: Lipton Hall
108 West 3rd Street (between MacDougal and Sullivan Streets)

RSVP: nyih.info@nyu.edu
Please make sure to state the event name and date in your email.


Mary Schmidt Campbell, PhD, is president of Spelman College, a leading women’s college dedicated to the education and global leadership of Black women. Before coming to Spelman, she served for over two decades as dean of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. An art historian and former curator, Dr. Campbell began her career in New York as executive director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, the country’s first accredited Black fine arts museum and a linchpin in Harlem’s redevelopment. She served as commissioner of New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs under two mayors and in 2009, President Barack Obama appointed her vice chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently sits on the boards of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the High Museum of Art, as well as on the advisory board of the Bonner Foundation. In 2017, Dr. Campbell was appointed to serve as a member of the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers in the city of New York. She recently completed the book An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden for Oxford University Press. Campbell received a bachelor’s of art degree in English literature from Swarthmore College, a master’s of art in art history from Syracuse University, and a doctorate in humanities, from Syracuse. She and her husband, Dr. George Campbell, Jr., president emeritus of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, are the parents of three sons and have six grandchildren.

Melvin Edwards is a pioneer in the history of contemporary African-American art and sculpture. Born in Houston, Texas, he began his artistic career at the University of Southern California, where he met and was mentored by Hungarian painter Francis de Erdely. In 1965 the Santa Barbara Museum of Art organized Edwards’ first solo exhibition, which launched his professional career. He moved to New York City in 1967, where shortly after his arrival, his work was exhibited at the then newly created Studio Museum, and in 1970 became the first African-American sculptor to have works presented in a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum.  Edwards was a professor at Rutgers University in the art department and retired in 2002. His has numerous large-scale public art works and his sculpture has been included in several major exhibitions, including Melvin Edwards: Five Decades, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas; the Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980, Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties, and the current touring exhibition Soul of A Nation. His work is represented in several prominent public collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museo de Artes Visuales Alejandro Otero, Caracas, Venezuela; Wadsworth Atheneum; Winston-Salem State University; and in New York, the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.