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Collecting Black Studies

Collecting Black Studies
The Art of Material Culture at The University of Texas at Austin

This beautifully illustrated volume presents and analyzes for the first time the many hidden treasures from Black Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Series: Tower Books Imprint

April 2020
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248 pages | 8 x 10.5 |

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What began as an effort to prevent the neglect and potential loss of hundreds of African objects at the University of Texas at Austin has evolved into one of the most significant collections on campus. The art collections at Black Studies were born from the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies’ Art and Archive Initiative, under the leadership of Cherise Smith, Omi L. Jones, and Edmund T. Gordon.

Today Black Studies at the University of Texas boasts approximately 900 objects from sub-Saharan Africa, over 200 contemporary works from African American and Afro-Caribbean artists, and more than 100 pieces jointly held with other collecting entities on campus, adding a diverse richness to the overall collections. Collecting Black Studies gathers and presents these holdings—including costumes, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and photography—and prominently features five Black artists whose work is particularly significant. Scholars and curators examine how John Biggers, Michael Ray Charles, Christina Coleman, Angelbert Metoyer, and Deborah Roberts—artists with deep relationships to Texas—contributed to the Black Studies collections, to art history, and to the culture of our state and beyond.


Ragbir is a writer, curator, and the Director of the Art Galleries at Black Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and has published widely on race, identity, immigration, and cultural representation.

A curator and art historian, Smith is the Founding Executive Director of the Art Galleries at Black Studies, Chair of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department (AADS), and a professor in the Department of AADS and Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin.