Adrienne L. Childs, a scholar, art historian and curator, will deliver the 29th Alfred Heber Holbrook Memorial Lecture, “Ornamental Blackness: The Black Body in Western Decorative Arts,” at the Georgia Museum of Art April 4 at 6 p.m. Open free to the public, the lecture is sponsored by the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.
“Some of the finest decorative arts is propaganda driven and, arguably, all objects incorporate some cultural meaning,” said Dale Couch, GMOA’s curator of decorative arts. “Childs uses Western decorative arts for its value as evidence in understanding the depiction of African people and to fathom the meaning of Western perceptions of this exotic other through the lens of colonialism, racism and slavery.”
Childs has received fellowships from the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, the Sterling and Clark Institute, the David C. Driskell Center and the University of Maryland Graduate School. Presented in conjunction with the upcoming exhibition Face Jugs: Art and Ritual in 19th-Century South Carolina, which opens at GMOA on May 4, Childs’ lecture will center on the presence of Africans in the Western decorative arts. She will emphasize the origins of the preference for the exotic black as a decorative motif among Europeans. The lecture will connect two areas of the museum’s collection: the decorative arts and works by artists from the African diaspora.
The Alfred Heber Holbrook Memorial Lecture is an annual event in honor of the founder and first director of the Georgia Museum of Art. Holbrook founded the museum with a collection of 100 American paintings in honor of his wife, Eva Underhill Holbrook.