Art & Politics: Soul of a Nation Symposium

Elizabeth Catlett, Black Unity, 1968. Cedar. 21 in. × 12 1/2 in. × 23 in. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2014.11. Photography by Edward C. Robison III. © Catlett Mora Family Trust/VAGA at ARS, NY

Saturday, March 23, 2019 |
10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
$20; $15 student

On Soul of a Nation's opening day, The Broad will present a day of enriching conversations, artist talks and poetry, organized by UC Irvine professors Bridget R. Cooks (associate professor, African American Studies and Art History) and Frank B. Wilderson III (chair of African American Studies). The event will include compelling conversations between artists featured in the exhibition, such as Jae and Wadsworth Jarrell and Gerald Williams with Vida L. Brown (visual arts curator, California African American Museum) and Mel Edwards with Dale Davis (artist and co-founder, Brockman Gallery), facilitated by Isabelle Lutterodt (director, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery), as well as renowned art historians and curators like Thelma Golden (director and chief curator, The Studio Museum), Phyllis J. Jackson (associate professor, art history, Pomona College), Kellie Jones (professor, art history and archaeology and the Institute for Research in African American Studies, Columbia University), and Naima J. Keith (deputy director and chief curator, California African American Museum). 

A reading will be given by distinguished poet Kamau Daáood, author of The Language of Saxophones: Selected Poems of Kamau Daáood and the critically acclaimed album, Leimert ParkDarren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, will speak in conversation with Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

Tickets include one-time, anytime access to Soul of A Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983.



Introductory Remarks

  • 10:05-10:10AM- Welcome, Joanne Heyler, Founding Director, The Broad
  • 10:10-10:20AM- Mark Godfrey and Zoe Whitley, Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983 Organizing Curators
  • 10:20-10:30AM- Bridget R. Cooks and Frank B. Wilderson III: Introduction to the Symposium

10:35AM-11:50AM (1 hour conversation / 15 min Q&A)

Panel 1: The Politics of Black Exhibitions

  • Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator, The Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Kellie Jones, Professor, Art and Archaeology and the Institute for Research in African American Studies, Columbia University
  • Naima J. Keith, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, California African American Museum
  • Facilitator: Bridget R. Cooks, Associate Professor, African American Studies and Art History, UC Irvine


Panel 2: AfriCOBRA Artists

  • Soul of a Nation artists Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, and Gerald Williams 
  • Vida L. Brown, Visual Arts Curator, California African American Museum





  • Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation
  • Ava DuVernay, Director and Filmmaker



  • Mel Edwards, Soul of a Nation artist
  • Dale Davis, Artist and Co-Founder, Brockman Gallery

3:55-4:55PM (45 min conversation / 15 min Q&A)

Panel 3: Black Power and Politics

  • Frank B. Wilderson III, Professor and Chair of African American Studies, UC Irvine
  • Phyllis J. Jackson, Professor, Art History, Pomona College


Poetry Reading

  • Kamau Daáood, Performance poet, artist, and community activist


Closing Remarks

  • Bridget R. Cooks and Frank B. Wilderson III


Bridget R. Cooks

Bridget R. Cooks fills a joint appointment in the Department of African American Studies and the Department of Art History at UC Irvine. Cooks' research focuses on African American art and culture, Black visual culture, museum criticism, film, feminist theory and post-colonial theory. She has received such awards, grants and fellowships for her work as the James A. Porter & David C. Driskell Book Award in African American Art History, and the Henry Luce Dissertation Fellowship in American Art. She has curated several exhibitions of African American art including The Art of Richard Mayhew at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, 2009-2010.

She has taught in the Department of Art and Art History and the Program of Ethnic Studies at Santa Clara University. She also served as museum educator for the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 

Frank B. Wilderson III

Frank B. Wilderson III is a professor and chair of African American Studies at UC Irvine. He spent five and a half years in South Africa where he was one of two Americans to have held elected office in the African National Congress during the apartheid era and worked as a cadre for the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto We Sizwe. In addition to being an activist and scholar, Dr. Wilderson’s creative writing has garnered awards including National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship; Maya Angelou Award for Best Fiction Portraying the Black Experience in America; the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award; Eisner Prize for Creative Achievement of the Highest Order; Judith Stronach Award for Poetry, and The American Book Award.

His books include, Sideways between Stories; Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid; and Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms.

Phyllis J. Jackson

Phyllis J. Jackson was a member of Black Panther Party in Oakland California from 1969-1977.  Initially, a rank-and-file member, eventually serving on the BPP’s Central Committee.  Currently, Dr. Jackson is feminist art historian, cultural critic, and Associate Professor of Art History in the Pomona College Art History Department, specializing in the arts and cinema of Africa and the African diaspora and was a co-founder of the Claremont Graduate University’s Africana Studies Certificate Program.  Jackson co-directed the 1996 documentary, Comrade Sister: Voices of Women in the Black Panther Party and co-edited Outing Whiteness: Interrogating Representations of Race and Racism (a special issue of Annals of Scholarship: Art Practices in a Global Culture). 

She has contributed to the International Review of African American Art, Ijele: Art eJournal of the African World; and Art, Women, California,1950-2000: Parallels and Intersections.  Dr. Jackson continues the Black Panther Party educational legacy of “Each One, Teach One” how to decolonize their visual imaginary, by offering interdisciplinary visual studies courses such as, Black Aesthetics and the Politics of Representation; Critical Race Theory; Representation and the Rule of Law; Black Women, Feminism(s) and Social Change; Representing Blackness: Music and Masculinity; or Cinema Against War, Imperialism and Corporate Power.