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Reifying Black Geographies: The Tropical Performances of Maya Angelou and Josephine Baker

February 21 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

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Samantha A. Noël is an Associate Professor of Art History and the Hawkins Ferry Endowed Chair in Modern and Contemporary Art at Wayne State University. Her research centers on the history of art, visual culture, and performance of the Black Diaspora.

Noël’s 2021 book, Tropical Aesthetics of Black Modernism, investigates how Caribbean and American modern artists responded to colonial and hegemonic regimes through visual and performative tropicalist representation. In this virtual ARTbreak, Dr. Noël will discuss the Black Atlantic performances of cultural icons and pioneering artists Josephine Baker and Maya Angelou. Dr. Noël envisions their performances as a type of corporeal expression that is liberating, incisive, and even exceptional as a strategy of space-making, using art to name and reclaim spaces of Black sovereignty.