Southeast Missouri State University
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ARTS DURING THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE TOPIC OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH LECTURE

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Jan. 17, 2003 - An art historian from the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning at the University of Cincinnati will present a lecture Feb. 6 at Southeast Missouri State University titled "The 'New Negro' Movement: Arts in the 1920s and 30s."

Professor Theresa Leininger-Miller will speak at 7 p.m. in Crisp Hall Room 125 in honor of Black History Month. Her lecture will focus on the work of African-American artists in the period now known as the Harlem Renaissance - a time when authors, musicians and artists focused on African-American identity, culture and history.

The term "Harlem Renaissance" is generally applied to a number of African-American writers, artists and musicians active in New York and other cities during the 1920s and 1930s, said Dr. Stanley Grand, director of the University Museum. Following the lead of W.E.B. Du Bois--whose milestone book The Souls of Black Folk (1903) rejected unflattering 19th-century stereotypes of African-Americans--many of the emerging talents associated with the "Harlem Renaissance" promoted the ideal of the educated, cultured and sophisticated "New Negro."

"These urban artists and writers sought to interpret, explore and celebrate the cultural identity, traditions and historical experiences of blacks in both America and Africa. Their self-awareness and pride, combined with artistic creativity, were significant factors in the struggle to eliminate racism," Grand said.

Leininger-Miller currently is an associate professor with tenure in art history/School of Art at the University of Cincinnati in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. She has been a member of the faculty at the University of Cincinnati since 1992. She has taught courses on the Harlem Renaissance; African-American Art, 1619 - 1945; African-American Art, 1945 - present; and Art of West and Central Africa.

She earned a doctoral degree in the history of art from Yale University in 1995. Her dissertation was titled "African-American Artists in Paris, 1922-1934." She earned a master's degree in philosophy and a master of arts degree in the history of art, both from Yale in 1990 and 1988, respectively.

"The University Museum invited Professor Leininger-Miller to speak on the Harlem Renaissance because of her extensive work on the art and artists of this period," said Andrea Morrill, curator of education at the University Museum. "We are very pleased that she has accepted our invitation because her lecture will provide students and community members with the opportunity to hear about the powerful works and the powerful messages produced by African-American artists, musicians, and authors in the early 20th century."

Leininger-Miller has lectured extensively, last year presenting "Look to the Art of the Ancestors: The Influence of African Sculpture on New Negro Artists in Paris" at the College Art Association's annual conference in Philadelphia. In 2001, Leininger-Miller presented "Augusta Savage's Lift Every Voice and Sing at the 1939 New York World's Fair and Beyond," at the Laying Claim: (Re)Considering Artists of African Descent in the Americas conference at Colgate University. In 2000, she presented a lecture titled "'Painting with the Sun's Rays:' James Presley Ball, African-American Daguerreotypist and Activist" at the Society for Photographic Education's annual conference.

Last month, she received notice that she was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship to work on her next book, Sculpting the New Negro: The Life and Work of Augusta Savage (1892-1962). In 2001, her first book, New Negro Artists in Paris: African-American Painters and Sculptors in the City of Light, 1922-1934 was published by Rutgers University Press.

She is also contributing chapters to two upcoming anthologies, The Modern Woman. Revisited: Paris between the Wars (chapter on "Modern Dancers and African Amazons: Augusta Savage's Daring Sculptures of Women, 1929-1930,") and Out of Context: American Artists Abroad (chapter on "'Heads of Thought and Reflection: Busts of African Warriors by Nancy Elizabeth Prophet and Augusta Savage, African-American Sculptors in Paris, 1922-1934").

She has also contributed entries to publications such as Black Artists, Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, and Gumbo Ya Ya: Anthology of Contemporary African-American Women Artists.

 

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