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David C. Driskell Center

Kick Off: Digital Humanities African American History Culture Project_ Session 3

A group discussion on possible research questions related to themes of migration, labor and visual culture.

Kick Off: Digital Humanities African American History Culture Project_session 2
5/25/16 - 8:00 PM

Working groups provide a summary of their work and discuss possible next steps.

Kick Off: Digital Humanities African American History Culture Project_ Session 1
5/25/16 - 8:00 PM

Bonnie Thornton Dill, Mariët Westermann, Neil Fraistat and President Loh offer an introduction to the AADHum initiative at Maryland.

David C. Driskell Center (Cole Field House)
Monday, May 16, 2016 - 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Half-day meeting for scholars to learn about the vast range of research materials available to them at UMD for the study of the African American experience.

Tawes, Room 0134
Friday, February 19, 2016 - 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

As part of its search for a Director of Andrew W.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A $1.25 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will fund research, education and training at the intersections of digital humanities and African American studies at the University of Maryland in an effort to prepare a diverse community of scholars and students whose work will both broaden the reach of the digital humanities in African American history and cultural studies and enrich humanities research with new methods, archives and tools.

The grant, Synergies among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture: An integrated research and training model, awarded to the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) and co-directed by the Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy (Center for Synergy) and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), will support a faculty project director, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and staff in ARHU and the University Libraries. It also includes money to run workshops, to deliver public programming, to digitize materials from significant archival collections, to support faculty research and to integrate digital work into a number of innovative undergraduate curricular initiatives including UMD’s First-Year Innovation & Research Experience (FIRE) program, a new initiative to expose first-year undergraduates to rich research experiences, mentorship and social activities that are known to impact academic success.  

“Maryland’s project enhances the role of digital tools in African American studies as well as the contributions of the field to digital discourse while also making a commitment to widening the reach of the digital humanities both within academic communities and outside the walls of the university,” said Mariët Westermann, vice president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The College of Arts and Humanities has made serious investments in digital humanities and African American culture and history, hiring faculty clusters in both digital humanities and African American literature and history, adding to the strong community of digital humanist and African Americanist scholars already spread across the campus’s many colleges.

“This venture could not be more timely or important,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “It builds on our vital strengths in the humanities, increasing access to important source material on race and culture in America, while creating a new generation of technology-savvy researchers.” 

The thematic focus of the project, African American labor, migration and artistic expression, incorporates the broad intellectual interests shared by a large group of prominent scholars, students and staff on campus, and represents some of the campus’s greatest strengths. Specific research projects will be undertaken in collaboration with The Center for the History of the New America, which houses the Archive of Immigrant Voices; The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Art and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora with its collection of over 50,000 objects that chronicle the development and understanding of the study of African American visual culture; and the UMD libraries’ recently acquired George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive, a preeminent research collection for the study of American labor history.

At Maryland, digital humanities as a recognized field can be traced back to the founding of MITH in 1999, which has grown to international acclaim due to its transformational research at the intersection of technology and humanistic inquiry. The project will apply MITH’s innovative digital humanities incubator model to introduce scholars, students and cultural heritage professionals to new modes of research through a series of workshops, tutorials and detailed consultations. Strong in traditional arts and humanities fields as well, the university is also home to the Center for Synergy, the new humanities center at Maryland, which will provide an interdisciplinary bridge between departments and centers and facilitate the public facing events, curricular initiatives and websites connected with the project.

“This ambitious project enables scholars in the region to leverage the remarkable resources we have on campus,” said Bonnie Thornton Dill, professor of Women’s Studies, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, and principal investigator of the Mellon grant. “To explore the histories of the African American population in the U.S., scholars will work with the rich and diverse data sets and archives found in these interdisciplinary centers.”

These resources together offer a new lens and framework for thinking and teaching about Black life in America, specifically investigating the way in which migration has shaped the history of Black people, as both forced and free laborers, and linking those experiences to visual and material culture.  

“Students and faculty researchers might investigate questions about labor activism among Caribbean Americans or explore visual representations of work as they examine the relationship of Black artists and the labor movement,” Ms. Thornton Dill said.

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ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
The University of Maryland is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize winners, 49 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.8 billion operating budget, secures $500 million annually in external research funding and recently completed a $1 billion fundraising campaign.

ABOUT ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION
Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. 

PHOTO CREDITS

Spotlight Image:

"Five generations on Smith's plantation, Beaufort, South Carolina"
Timothy O’Sullivan, 1862—Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Preston Sampson
Power and Purpose, 2008
Paper pulp painting
49.5 “ x 97
© 2013 Preston Sampson
 
500 Laborers from Barbados/Deck Scene, September 2, 1909,
Panama; NARA identification number 185-G-1128
 
Inset 1:

500 Laborers from Barbados/Deck Scene, September 2, 1909,
Panama; NARA identification number 185-G-1128
 
Inset 2:

Hunter, Clementine (1886-1988)
Wash Day, n.d.
Oil on canvas
15.375” x 19.5”
© 2013 Cane River Art Corporation
 
Inset 3:

Local 900 President Ed Gaskin speaking at big Balboa union meeting, May, 1952.
© University of Maryland, University Libraries
http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/32406

 

By Karen Shih, Terp magazine

The university is exploring a partnership with Washington, D.C.’s famed Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art + Design that could lead to access to the gallery’s $2 billion, 17,000-piece collection, enhanced art and design opportunities for Maryland students, and increased visibility and presence for the university in the nation’s capital.

President Wallace Loh in April signed a memorandum of understanding with the head of the Corcoran Board of Trustees and has appointed an 18-member task force to consider a formal collaboration. It is scheduled to report its findings to him by the end of the summer.

“We are energized by the potential to enhance both institutions, to bring together diverse academic disciplines, students and faculty to create something truly unique and compelling in higher education,” Loh says. “This is a moment of remarkable possibility.”

The Corcoran was established in 1869 as D.C.’s first private art museum, dedicated, in the words of founder William Wilson Corcoran, to “encouraging American genius.” Its renowned collection, housed just a block from the White House, includes works by Degas, Monet, Picasso and Sargent. 

 The college opened in 1878 and today has approximately 550 undergraduate and graduate students. In recent years, the museum has struggled to overcome severe financial troubles, including $7 million operating deficits for the last two years and a $130 million backlog in building repairs.

The agreement signed by the Corcoran and UMD notes the advantages of UMD’s management expertise, financial strengths, economies of scale and capacity to help run the Corcoran’s administrative side, in such areas as student services, fundraising, facilities management and human resources.

The UMD task force, led by Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin; Curlee Holton, interim executive director of the David C. Driskell Center; and School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Dean David Cronrath, is now investigating the possibilities for new courses, joint degrees and innovation studios, which would bring together students and faculty from disciplines like engineering and business with the arts.

“All our students will have to be creative problem-solvers and designers as well as entrepreneurs in their jobs,” Cronrath says.

“All great universities have a well-balanced set of disciplines,” he says. “This will complement nicely the partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, which tends to focus on science and engineering.”

If the task force recommends moving forward, the University of Maryland Board of Regents and the Corcoran Board of Trustees will vote on the decision.  

This partnership would be unique but not unprecedented. The University of California, Los Angeles operates the Hammer Museum, and Johns Hopkins University has partnered with the Peabody Institute for more than three decades.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity, and it takes great courage and leadership for President Loh to imagine it and make it possible,” Holton says.

By Monette A. Bailey, Terp magazine

An African-American art collection valued at more than $2.2 million now belongs to the university’s David C. Driskell Center.

The nearly 270 paintings, sculptures and other works bequeathed by Sandra Anderson Baccus, who died last year, and her late husband, Dr. Lloyd T. Baccus, make it the center’s largest gift. Mrs. Baccus served on the center’s board from 2004 to 2006.

“She was impressed with what we were doing here,” says Dorit Yaron, acting director. “Usually 3 to 5 percent is shown on exhibitions while the rest of objects are stored. At a place like the center, she believed we would use the collection more often for study, classes and possibly an exhibition.”

Familiar names such as Clementine Hunter, Romare Bearden and Palmer Hayden are represented, as are a range of formats and subjects. The collection includes abstract metal sculptures addressing lynching, fine drawings evoking nights at the famed Apollo Theater and even a pair of creatively decorated shoes.

“There were a number of artists she was interested in, and her husband was interested in a different group,” says Curlee Holton, interim executive director of the center. He says it makes for a diverse and “exceptional” collection.

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