Susan Weber. Photo by Da Ping Luo.

Greetings from West 86th Street. I’m happy to announce Bard Graduate Center’s 2023–24 exhibitions, SIGHTLINES on Peace, Power & Prestige: Metal Arts from Africa and Sonia Delaunay: Living Art.

Throughout its history, the BGC Gallery has explored the decorative arts, design history, and material culture of many people, places, and eras. SIGHTLINES, on view September 29–December 31, marks the first time we are presenting works from Africa and the Black Diaspora. The Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida mounted Peace, Power & Prestige: Metal Arts of Africa, an exhibition that features 140 items of traditional African metal arts, in 2020. SIGHTLINES curator Drew Thompson has reimagined the presentation of those objects in conversation with seventeen works by thirteen leading contemporary artists. Thompson and his collaborators, exhibition designers Emanuel Admassu and Jen Wood of the architecture firm AD-WO, have created an environment that allows visitors to envision “sightlines” that connect historic metal arts from different places and moments in the history of African artistry with new works by leading contemporary artists, such as Nari Ward, Lubaina Himid, Bronwyn Katz, and many others. They hope that these sightlines will spark discussion about fresh ways of presenting the arts of Africa.

Sonia Delaunay: Living Art makes a new contribution to our understanding of this major twentieth century artist. The exhibition will include many well-known objects of key significance. In addition, curators Laura Microulis (BGC MA ’95, PhD ’16) and Waleria Dorogova have secured loans of other pieces that have never before been on view and offer a more complete picture of Delaunay’s remarkably diverse and interconnected body of work. Sonia Delaunay: Living Art will represent the totality of the artist’s kaleidoscopic career from the early Parisian avant-garde of the 1910s to the spirited 1970s. It will be on view in the BGC Gallery from February 23 through July 7, 2024.

Speaking of exhibitions, BGC is connected to several that have been in the news in recent months. I am sure you have seen the wonderful reviews of Africa Fashion at the Brooklyn Museum, and if you haven’t yet visited the exhibition, I urge you to put it on your calendar. It originated at the V&A, and I am so proud that Annissa Malvoisin, the inaugural BGC / Brooklyn Museum Postdoctoral Fellow, co-organized its presentation in the US with Ernestine White-Mifetu, Sills Foundation Curator of African Art, and other members of the Brooklyn Museum’s curatorial team. It makes for a perfect moment to catch up with Malvoisin and learn about the exhibition as well as her other projects.

You may have read about plans for the new Borscht Belt Museum in Ellenville, New York. I am delighted that through a partnership arranged by BGC faculty members Aaron Glass and Caspar Meyer, three members of BGC’s MA class of 2024 fulfilled their internship requirement by curating a pop-up exhibition that was part of this summer’s Borscht Belt Fest. It introduced the public to the Borscht Belt Museum’s purpose: to preserve the memory of this iconic place and time in Jewish and American history. I hope you will enjoy Rachel Salem-Wiseman’s reflection on the role that she and her classmates Mackensie Griffin and Bob Hewis played in launching this valuable new institution.

In this issue, you can also read about alumna Juliana Fagua Arias’s experience curating an exhibition for Mexico City’s Museo Franz Meyer; learn about BGC Materials Days in student Allison Donoghue’s reflection on dyeing with indigo; follow Fields of the Future Fellow Annie Coggan’s research; and connect to past BGC exhibitions through their websites.

Finally, Wednesdays @ BGC, a wonderful series of events programmed by the department of Public Humanities + Research returns on September 6. BGC Members always receive priority notice of and discounts for these events (and many other benefits as well), so if you haven’t yet renewed or purchased your membership, you should do that right away!

As always, thank you for your support of BGC, and I look forward to seeing you on 86th Street this fall.

Susan Weber, Founder and Director