Scholar and artist Dr. Freida High Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis will explore how select Black artists from the American South turned towards abstraction in the post-World War II era, centering on Sam Gilliam’s work and artistic processes, and incorporating other artists, including Mel Edwards and Floyd Newsum (recently on view at MMoCA). Dr. High’s talk will explore the ways in which artists are and were true to themselves in abstraction and figurative compositions amid cultural and social issues and debates, long before the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Freida High Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis, MA, MFA, PhD, is a painter, printmaker, art historian, curator, Emerita Professor of African and African American Art History and Visual Culture, Departments of Afro-American Studies, Gender & Women’s Studies, and Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her expertise is on African American, African, and feminist art history/criticism. Among her many accolades, she has recently been awarded the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award as Artist and Scholar, Porter Colloquium, Howard University, and a 2022 Wisconsin Visual Art Legacy/Lifetime Achievement Award by the Museum of Wisconsin Art, Wisconsin Visual Artists, and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters.