Inaugural Research Fellows for 2019-2020


From left: Tuliza Fleming, John Ott, Key Jo Lee, Rebecca VanDiver, Tess Korobkin.

Beginning in September 2019, the Lunder Institute for American Art will host annually a Distinguished Scholar and a group of Research Fellows at varying stages of their careers to pursue original scholarship around a topic of particular concern to the field of American art. As the Lunder Institute Distinguished Scholar and Director of Research, Tanya Sheehan (William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Art, Colby College) is overseeing the inaugural program in 2019-2020, which will focus on work by African American artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Research Fellows include Tuliza Fleming (Curator of American Art, National Museum of African American History and Culture), Tess Korobkin (Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park), Key Jo Lee (Assistant Director of Academic Outreach, Cleveland Museum of Art), John Ott (Professor, James Madison University), and Rebecca VanDiver (Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt University). The Research Fellows program aims to deepen original research into works of art in the Colby College Museum of Art and expand the community of scholars engaged with the collection.


The Research Fellows will put their current research into conversation with artworks in the Museum’s collection by landscape painter Grafton Tyler Brown (1841-1918), multimedia artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988), and contemporary artist-scholar David C. Driskell (b. 1931). Two additional artworks—an abstract painting by Norman Lewis (1909-1979) and a sculpture by Marion Perkins (1908-1961)—have been loaned to the Museum from the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art based in Austin, Texas. The Fellows’ research will develop throughout the academic year, assisted by three Colby students: Olivia Hochstadt ’21, Jane MacKerron ’20, and Carter Wynne ’20. 


The group will convene on the Colby campus in November to study their selected artworks, and meet with area artists and curators to enhance their research. They will also participate in high-level discussions on the state and parameters of the field we call African American art history; what constitutes its canon at this moment; and how and why academic scholars, curators, and artists distinguish art by African Americans from the broader field of American art. The Fellows will return to campus in March 2020 to share their research in a public symposium (March 13) and discuss future outcomes for their work. On the evening of March 12, the Lunder Institute and the Museum will host a conversation between David C. Driskell and Curlee R. Holton of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park.


Featured image from homepage: Romare Bearden, Cotton, 1964. Gelatin silver print (photostat) on fiberboard (Ed. 1/6), 39 x 49 in. (99.1 x 124.5 cm). Colby College Museum of Art. The Lunder Collection, 2017.003.