Art Historian to Present Paul R. Jones Lecture, Curate Exhibit at UA

Bridget R. Cooks "Exhbiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum"
Bridget R. Cooks "Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum"

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Bridget R. Cooks, a leading scholar on African American art and culture, will visit The University of Alabama to speak on “Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum,” Wednesday, April 4 at 7 p.m. in room 205 of Smith Hall on the UA campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public and is part of the Paul R. Jones Lecture Series in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Cooks will discuss her recently published book of the same title, which explores her research on African American art and will sign copies of the book afterward.

An associate professor of art history and African American studies at the University of California-Irvine, Cooks researches black visual culture, museum criticism, film and feminist theory. She has worked in museum education at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Oakland Museum in California, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Cooks’s visit coincides with an exhibit she curated, “Wavelengths: Abstract Selections from the Paul R. Jones Collection,” that will be displayed at the Paul R. Jones Gallery in downtown Tuscaloosa until May 5. A reception for Cooks and the exhibition will be held April 5 from 6-8 p.m. at the Paul R. Jones Gallery.

The gallery honors the late Paul R. Jones who, during his lifetime, amassed one of the largest collections of African American art and donated 1,700 pieces of his collection, valued at $4.8 million, to UA in 2008.

Cooks curated “Wavelengths” with the help of Tia-Simone Gardner, a graduate student in UA’s department of gender and race studies, and with undergraduate art students M. Louise Corrigan and Martika Townsend.

According to their curatorial statement, “Spanning nearly 50 years of creative production, the works in this exhibition demonstrate varied approaches to non-representational art through vivid colors, textures, geometric patterns and organic forms.”

Featured in the exhibit are works by John Feagin, Sam Gilliam, Robert Johnson, Hans Bhalla, Roy DeCarava, Nanette Carter, Richard Hunt, Michael Kavanaugh Perry, Mary Martin and Aimee Miller.

Cooks has curated several exhibitions, including one at the de Saisset Museum, and most recently “The Art of Richard Mayhew” at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. She has received a number of awards, grants and fellowships for her work, including the prestigious Henry Luce Dissertation Fellowship in American Art in 2000.

The Paul R. Jones Gallery is part of the department of art and art history in the College of Arts and Sciences, which is the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships and memberships on the USA Today Academic All American Team.


Kelli Wright, communications specialist, College of Arts and Sciences, 205/348-8539,


Stacy Morgan, associate professor of American Studies, 205/348-0069,