Chika Okeke-Agulu

Professor
Department of Art and Archaeology & Department of African American Studies
Ph.D, Art History
Emory University
office:
317 McCormick Hall
office phone:
(609) 258-7456
email:
cokekeag@princeton.edu
twitter:
@Chikaokekeagulu
website:
http://chikaokeke-agulu.blogspot.com
Chika Okeke-Agulu

Chika Okeke-Agulu is Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Art & Archaeology. He specializes in classical, modern, and contemporary African and African Diaspora art history and theory. He previously taught at The Pennsylvania State University, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. He is the author of Obiora Udechukwu: Line, Image, Text (Skira Editore, 2016); Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria (Duke, 2015); and (with Okwui Enwezor), Contemporary African Art Since 1980 (Damiani, 2010). He is coeditor of Ezumeezu: Essays on Contemporary Art and Architecture, a festschrift in Honour of Demas Nwoko (Goldline & Jacobs, 2012); and Who Knows Tomorrow (König, 2010) In 2006, he edited the first ever issue of African Arts dedicated to African Modernism, and his writings have appeared in African Arts, Meridians: Feminism, Race, Internationalism, Artforum International, New York Times, Packett, South Atlantic Quarterly, October. He is co-editor of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art and maintains the blog Ọfọdunka.

In 2007, Professor Okeke-Agulu was appointed the Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor of Art History at Williams College, and Fellow at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (2008). He was a Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellow (2010). Among his many awards and prizes are: Honorable Mention, The Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication (triennial) Award (Arts Council of African Studies Association, 2017); The Melville J. Herskovits Prize for the most important scholarly work in African Studies published in English during the preceding year (African Studies Association, 2016); Distinguished Alumnus Award for Outstanding Service to the Arts (The College of Arts, University of South Florida, Tampa, 2016); Frank Jewett Mather Award for Distinction in Art Criticism (College Art Association, 2016); and Outstanding Dissertation (triennial) award (Arts Council of African Studies Association, 2007).

Okeke-Agulu serves on the board of directors of College Art Association, the advisory board of the Center for the Study of Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the executive board of Princeton in Africa, and editorial boards of African Studies Review and Journal of Igbo Studies.

Courses

AAS 245/ART 245
Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movements

This course surveys important moments in twentieth century African American art from the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s to the 1960s Black Arts movement. Our close studies of the work of major artists will be accompanied by examination of influential theories and ideologies of blackness during two key moments of black racial consciousness in the United States. We shall cover canonical artists and writers such as Aaron Douglas, James van der Zee, William H. Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, W. E. B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, James Porter and Jeff Donaldson.

AAS 372 / ART 374 / AMS 372
Postblack: Contemporary African American Art

As articulated by Thelma Golden, postblack refers to the work of African American artists who emerged in the 1990s with ambitious, irreverent, and sassy work. Though hard to define, postblack suggested the emergence of a generation of artists removed from the long tradition of black affirmation of the Harlem Renaissance, black empowerment of the Black Arts movement, and identity politics of the 1980s and early 90s. This seminar provides an opportunity for a deep engagement with the work of African American artists of the past decade. It will involve critical and theoretical readings on multiculturalism, race, identity, and contemporary art.

AAS 411 / ART 471 / AFS 411
Art, Apartheid, and South Africa

Apartheid, the political doctrine of separation of races in South Africa (1948-1990), dominated the (South) African political discourse in the second half of the 20th century. While it lasted, art and visual cultures were marshaled in the defense and contestation of its ideologies. Since the end of Apartheid, artists, filmmakers, dramatists, and scholars continue to reexamine the legacies of Apartheid, and the social, philosophical, and political conditions of non-racialized South Africa. Course readings examine issues of race, nationalism and politics, art and visual culture, and social memory in South Africa.

ART 237, AAS 237
Modern and Contemporary African Art

This course examines the range of work by African artists from the colonial period to the era of post-independence. It seeks to familiarize students with modern and contemporary art from Africa by studying forms, ideas, and subject matter that have preoccupied African artists since the mid-20th century. It is also interested in the critical practices that have helped set these artists on the global stage, as well as theoretical structures that might help our understanding of these processes.

ART 260 / AAS 260 / AFS 260 (LA)
Introduction to African Art

An introduction to African art and architecture from prehistory to the 20th century. Beginning with Paleolithic rock art of northern and southern Africa, we will cover ancient Nubia and Meroe; Neolithic cultures such as Nok, Djenne and Ife; African kingdoms, including Benin, Asante, Bamun, Kongo, Kuba, Great Zimbabwe, and the Zulu; Christian Ethiopia and the Islamic Swahili coast; and other societies, such as the Sherbro, Igbo, and the Maasai. By combining Africa’s cultural history and developments in artistic forms we establish a long historical view of the stunning diversity of the continent’s indigenous arts and architecture.


 

ART 261, AAS 261, AFS 261
Art and Politics in Postcolonial Africa

This seminar examines the impact of the IMF’s Structural Adjustment Program, military dictatorships, and political crises on artistic production in the 1980s, and the dramatic movement of African artists from the margins of the international art world to its very center since the 1990s. How familiar or different are the works and concerns of African artists? What are the consequences, in Africa and the West, of the international success of a few African artists? And what does the work of these Africans at home and in the West tell us about the sociopolitical conditions of our world today?

ART 378, AAS 377, AMS 372
Post-1945 African Photography

This course examines the role and status of photography in different phases of Africa’s political, cultural and art historical experience since 1945. We explore how African photographers used the photographic medium in the service of the state, society and their own artistic visions during the colonial and post-independence eras. Photography’s relationship with art and its social function in Africa will underlie our discussion.

ART 472, AAS 472
Igbo and Yoruba Art

This seminar focuses on the classical and traditional arts of the Yoruba and Igbo peoples of Southern Nigeria. Through readings on key aspects of the groups’ philosophies, ritual practices, aesthetics and socio-cultural formations, we examine the conceptual bases and formal conditions of the arts of the two groups, and rethink earlier scholarship on Igbo and Yoruba art, politics and visual cultures.

ART 473, AAS 473, AFS 473
Kongo Art

Easily recognized as among the most important examples of canonical African art, Kongo sculpture, textiles, and ritual design are famous for their conceptual density, stylistic variety and rigorous abstraction. The course examines the role of art in the life of the Kongo Kingdom and related peoples, from the arrival of Spanish explorers and missionaries in the 15th century, through the era of Belgian colonization from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries, to the period since political independence in 1960. The seminar coincides with and will explore the Kongo Across the Waters exhibition at the Princeton University Museum.