David C. Driskell Center


The David C. Driskell Center is committed to collecting, documenting, and presenting African American art as well as replenishing and expanding the field. The Center organizes conferences focusing on aspects of African American art and culture, and also offers support for programs initiated by University of Maryland undergraduates, graduates, or faculty—guest lectures, artistic and performance workshops, film festivals, speaker series, and heritage activities—meant to promote debate and the exchange of ideas within the campus community.


Academic Years

2014-2015 | 2010-2011 | 2009-2010 |2008-2009 | 2007-2008

2006-2007 | 2005-2006 | 2004-2005 | 2003-2004| 2002-2003 | 2001-2002



Robert Blackburn and the Modernist Movement in Prints

October 24-25, 2014

Both the symposium and exhibition look at Blackburn’s work within the context of American modernism. The symposium’s sessions include: “Is it a Good Print, or Not?”; “Blackburn as an Artist/Printmaker and his Contemporaries”; “Blackburn and Modernism”; and “Printmaking in the Washington/Maryland Area: The Next Generation.” Presenters at the symposium include Judith Brodie, Curator and Head, Department of Modern Prints and Drawings, National Gallery of Art; Professor. Curlee R. Holton, Executive Director, David C. Driskell Center; Dr. Deborah Cullen, Director and Chief Curator, Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University; Katherine Blood, Curator of Fine Prints & Poster, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress; Phil Sanders, Director, Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop; Prof. Joshua Shannon, Associate Professor, Contemporary Art History & Theory at the Department of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Maryland; Prof. David C. Driskell, artist and Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Art at University of Maryland, College Park; Justin Strom, associate professor, printmaking and digital imaging, Honors Program director, University of Maryland, College Park; Dennis O’Neil, director, Hand Print Workshop International, Alexandria, Virginia; and Tonia Matthews, director, MFA Studio Art, Towson University.

Symposium Information



Performing Race in African American Visual Culture Symposium

September 15-16, 2010

Based on the understanding that race is an ideology performed on a daily basis, this conference will investigate how and why performances of race are manifested or subverted in African American visual culture. The panels include “Race and Museum Practices,” “Race and Abstraction,” and “Performance in/of Contemporary African American Art.” The symposium will begin with keynote speaker Dr. Richard Powell of Duke University, on Wednesday, September 15th at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.  The conference will continue on September 16th between 9:00am and 4:30pm at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union Building on the University of Maryland, College Park campus.

Symposium Information



African Art, Modernist Photography,
and the Politics of Representation

November 13-14, 2009

The symposium is organized in collaboration with the Phillips Collection and the Department of Art History and Archaeology and held in conjunction with the Phillip's Collection exhibition, Man Ray, African Art and the Modernist Lens. The symposium examines the representation of African art within the context of early 20th century modernism.

A Symposium on African American
and African Diasporan Women in the Visual Arts

March 5-6, 2010

The symposium is organized by the Driskell Center and the Art Program of the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). The event is co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost for Equity and Diversity; the College of Arts and Humanities; the Consortium on Gender, Race and Ethnicity; and the Departments of African American Studies, Art and Archaeology, and Women's Studies.

Symposium Information



Color in Freedom: Journey Along
the Underground Railroad

November 1, 2008

The conference is held in conjunction with the opening of the exhibition of the same name to be presented by the University of Maryland University College. The conference and the exhibition are inspired and informed by, as well as feature, a series of 32 paintings and 18 prints and drawings by renowned artist Joseph Holston organized into four movements, as in a musical composition.

Conference Information



New Critical Perspectives on African American Art History

Friday and Saturday, March 7-8, 2008

The David C. Driskell Center and the Department of Art History and Archaeology will host a conference that reassesses the field of African American art as it has evolved, shifted and grown in the last quarter of the 20th century and into the 21st. New Critical Perspectives highlights new scholarship and approaches to African American Art History. A wide range of papers will be presented that investigate artists and issues using diverse critical tools and approaches. Scholars from around the country will explore topics such as interdisciplinary, cosmopolitanism, race and the black body and diasporic identities.

Conference Program



Collecting African American Art:
Aesthetics, Methods and Marketplace

October 28, 2006

The conference program has been designed to address a variety of issues of importance to collectors, artists, scholars and art enthusiasts. Sessions will address the issues surrounding African American art in the art market and investigate the ways in which race and gender have impacted the supply and demand for objects by African Americans in South Carolina. Other speakers will examine the way African Americans have established a sense of identity through collecting as well as the explore the implications of targeted collecting practices.

The conference will take place in conjunction with the opening of the exhibition Holding our Own: Selections from the Collectors Club of Washington, D.C., Inc. presented by the University of Maryland University College and the Collectors Club of Washington, D.C., Inc.

Conference Program

“Tell Your Story"
An Interdisciplinary Conference on August Wilson and African American Theatre, Art, and Culture

March 9-11, 2007

In the spring of 2007, the David C. Driskell Center sponsored a national interdisciplinary conference celebrating the life and work of award-winning playwright, August Wilson. “The Tell Your Story” conference honored one of the most significant playwrights in American theatre history, and allowed the Driskell Center to share its unique perspective on the intersections between the visual arts and culture of African Americans and the African diaspora.

The three-day event featured acclaimed scholars, playwrights, and performers, including Harry J. Elam and David Krasner (winners of the Errol Hill Award for outstanding publications in African American Theatre), renowned Wilson expert Sandra Shannon, author of the new Cambridge Companion to August Wilson, Christopher Bigsby, Emmy Award-winning artist Scot Reese, Tony-nominated performer Charles Dutton, performer-activist Rhodessa Jones, and Tony-nominated director, Kenny Leon.

Conference Program



Spectacular Fictions: Race and Visual Culture

September 22, 2006

The African Diaspora Area Group of the English Department will sponsor a conference on September 22, 2006, “Spectacular Fictions: Race and Visual Culture,” which will bring together scholars at the forefront of a growing field in African American and African Diaspora studies. This conference will feature scholars whose work joins literary studies and visual studies in analyses of race and culture.

Maryland Room, Marie Mount Hall, University of Maryland, College Park

Conference Program



African American Identity Travels

September 17-18

How have African American people, ideas, culture and politics traveled outside the U.S. and what has been the effect of those travels on the identity and politics of black people within the United States?

A two-day conference will bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars from around the country with area faculty and graduate students to explore this question.

The conference is free and open to the public.

The conference is sponsored by the Center for Historical Studies; The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the African Diaspora; Coordinating Council for Equity and Diversity; The Office of Graduate Recruitment, Retention, and Diversity; The African American Studies Department; and The American Studies Department.



Towns & Gowns: Thinking Communities in
African American Studies

November 2003

What is a "black community"? How do black communities operate as sites of collective memory and collaborative activism? How have black communities evolved in relation to recent social, cultural, and political changes in the United States? What is the impact of black communities on the discipline of African-American Studies? How have American literature, photography, film, and television represented black communities? How does the idea of community translate across the African Diaspora? Towns and Gowns: Thinking Communities in African American Studies is a one-day conference designed to address these questions.

Conference Organizers:
Mary Helen Washington and Gene Jarrett, Department of English

Conference Program



Symposium: The Body in the African Body Politics

Wednesday, December 4, 2003

Organized by Dr. David Gordon, Assistant Professor of History, this symposium will invite an international panel of scholars to discuss the politics of the body in African societies. Co-sponsored by the Center for Historical Studies.

Symposium Program

Conference: The Body and the Body Politic
in Latin America

April 18-19, 2003

A conference, held in conjunction with the annual program of the Center for Historical Studies, addressing issues of the body and body politic in colonial and post-colonial Latin America. Six distinguished invited scholars will present papers to be commented upon by University of Maryland and Washington area university faculty.

For more information contact: Mary Kay Vaughan, Department of History.

Conference Program

Washington Area Symposium on the
History of Latin America (WASHLA)

November 8-9, 2002

Annual meeting of specialists in Latin American history, primarily attended by scholars affiliated with institutions of higher education and independent scholars in Maryland, Delaware, northern Virginia, southeastern Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. Of growing importance to the group is the history of the African diaspora throughout the Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian worlds.

Symposium Program



International Symposium: Africas of the Americas

April 18-20, 2002

Are "Africa" and "Africanness" unproblematic, self-evident, and historically invariable concepts? Or are we dealing with terms whose multiple and changing meanings are the products of complicated, and conflict-ridden histories? These are the questions this symposium aims to address. It does so by following W.E.B. DuBois´ lead that explicitly "African" identities—i.e. forms of subjectivity based on ideas of provenance from or allegiance to the African continent—emerged first in the diaspora, and only later became thinkable on the continent itself. The symposium’s central questions will concern the multiple "Africas" that historically have been produced in the Americas, and their impact on the formation of current conceptions of what constitutes Africanness or Africanity.

Symposium Website