The University Art Gallery’s spring 2020 exhibition, Visionary Aponte: Art and Black Freedom, was selected by the Nashville Scene as the Best University Exhibition of the past year. The show, curated by Édouard Duval Carrié and Ada Ferrer, was organized at Vanderbilt by Interim Curator Emily Weiner with Collections Manager and Registrar Kali Mason. Many hands went into the work on this exhibition. Vanderbilt University co-sponsors included the Department of Art, Department of History, Center for Latin American Studies, Jean & Alexander Heard Libraries and Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. The exhibition was also made possible with the support of New York University Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, New York University Provost’s Global Research Initiatives, Green Family Foundation, Art Basel Miami Beach, Knight Foundation, Little Haiti Cultural Complex, The Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance, Miami-Dade County, New York University King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, and Duke Forum for Scholars and Publics.
Artists included: Grettel Arrate Hechavarría (Santiago, Cuba), José Bedia (Miami), María Magdalena Campos-Pons (Nashville), Juan Roberto Diago (Havana, Cuba), Édouard Duval Carrié (Miami), Alexis Esquivel Bermudez (Cuba/Spain), Jöelle Ferly (Guadalupe), Teresita Fernández (New York), Alberto Lescay (Santiago), Tessa Mars (Port-au-Prince, Haiti), Emilio Martínez (Miami), Emilio Adán Martínez (Miami), Nina Angela Mercer (New York), Clara Morera (North Carolina), Glexis Novoa (Miami), Vicki Pierre (Miami), Marielle Plaisir (Miami), Asser Saint-Val (Miami), Jean-Marcel Saint-Jacques (New Orleans) and Renée Stout (Washington, D.C.).
Visionary Aponte, which originally opened in Miami’s Little Haiti Cultural Center during Art Basel 2017, has traveled to King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at New York University, Power Plant Gallery at Duke University, Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales in Havana, and Galería Arte Soy in Santiago, Cuba before arriving at the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery.
A series of programs was organized by the Arts Gallery in conjunction with the exhibition:
- Exhibition opening reception in Cohen Hall Atrium, featuring Batá drums by Yosvany Cordero
- A Q&A with artists exhibition co-curator and artist Edouard Duval Carrié and Cornelius Vanderbilt Endowed Chair of Fine Arts, María Magdalena Campos-Pons
- Curator’s Talk with Latin American & Iberian bibliographer and senior lecturer in Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University Paula Covington, “Found in Cuba: The Ingenuity and Artistry of Ediciones Vigía”
- Alejandro de la Fuente, Robert Bliss Woods Professor of Latin American History and Economics, professor of African and African American Studies and of History, and director of the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at Harvard University: 2020 Black Atlantic Speaker’s Series Lecture: “New Perspectives on the Black Atlantic”
- Closing Lectures and Reception: exhibition co-curator and NYU Julius Silver Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean History Ada Ferrer, “Aponte: A Black Kingdom of this World” and Jane Landers, Gertrude Conway Vanderbilt Professor of History, director of the Slave Societies Digital Archive and lead faculty for the International Initiative for the Study of Slave Societies, “An Untapped Source for the History of José Antonio Aponte: The Slave Societies Digital Archive”