Dr. Drew Thompson. Courtesy of Dr. Drew Thompson.

Bard Graduate Center and Bard College today announced the joint appointment of Dr. Drew Thompson as Associate Professor of Visual Culture and Black Studies beginning January 1, 2022. Dr. Thompson’s research and teaching at BGC will focus on the art and material culture of Africa and the African Diaspora, with courses on visual history and theory, the art of decolonization, Black modernism, vernacular photography, and museums as (de-)colonial spaces. At Bard College, he will teach an undergraduate course that nurtures interests in the topics taught at BGC. Dr. Thompson’s expertise complements the BGC faculty’s diverse interdisciplinary research, which includes Indigenous material culture studies, urban archaeology, architectural history, fashion and textiles studies, culinary history, conservation studies, and material science.

“Drew Thompson is an exceptional scholar whose work explores the recent history of Lusophone Africa and its diasporic extensions but also the relationship between art, technology, and politics in Africa and the United States. We are thrilled that Dr. Thompson has chosen to bring his expertise to BGC,” said Peter N. Miller, Dean of Bard Graduate Center.

“I am delighted that Professor Drew Thompson undertakes this new role at Bard Graduate Center. He is expertly positioned to consider and interweave contemporary African and African American art across multiple disciplines, and Bard College as a whole will benefit from his track-record of innovative scholarship and public-facing programming. This is an exciting new chapter for both Bard Graduate Center and Bard’s Annandale community,” said Christian Ayne Crouch, Dean of Graduate Studies at Bard College.

Dr. Thompson
stated, “I have long admired Bard Graduate Center. My appointment brings an unparalleled opportunity to advance BGC’s curriculum and public programming in the areas of African and Black Diaspora visual and material culture. Furthermore, I am excited to expand my own research into new areas, including exhibition making, and to bring new constituencies to the conversation about the role of art in society at the pivotal moment we are living. I am grateful to BGC Director and Founder Susan Weber and Dean Miller for their foresight and vision in crafting this unique position.”

Dr. Thompson joins BGC from Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts where he has served as Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History and Visual Culture. Prior to his tenure at Ryerson, Dr. Thompson was Assistant Professor of Historical and African Studies (2013-2021) and Director of Africana Studies (2017-2020). In 2018, he launched the interactive arts platform, “Creative Process in Dialogue: Art and the Public Today,” which featured Elizabeth Alexander, Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, Thelma Golden, Amy Sherald, and Bradford Young as invited speakers.

A writer and visual historian, Thompson authored Filtering Histories: The Photographic Bureaucracy in Mozambique, 1960 to Recent Times (University of Michigan Press, 2021), which features a study of the role of photography in Mozambique’s history as a colony of Portugal and an independent nation. He is currently working on a second book project, provisionally titled Coloring Black Surveillance: The Story of Polaroid in Africa, Anti-Apartheid Protest, and the Contemporary Art World, which seeks to draw connections between the development of instant color photography, the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, and the use of Polaroids in US prisons. Thompson is also the guest curator of an exhibition on the life and work of the late Black American printmaker Benjamin Wigfall, which will open in Fall 2022 at the Samuel Dorksy Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz and then travel in Spring 2023 to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Dr. Thompson earned his B.A. in History and Art History from Williams College (2005) and his Ph.D. in History from the University of Minnesota -Twin Cities (2013).