Department of Art alum Joseph Underwood, PhD ’17 has been awarded an Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for his book project, Forging a New Contemporary: Art from Senegal in Transnational Networks, 1974-1984. The book revisits an overlooked exhibition of contemporary art, “Art Se´ne´galais d’Aujourd’hui” (or “Contemporary Art of Senegal”), that traveled across 24 cities (15 countries, 5 continents) between 1974 and 1984. Connecting artists from Africa with audiences and opportunities in Europe, North America, South America and Asia, Underwood’s book aims to redefine the nascence of so-called non-Western contemporary art, diversifying the canon by addressing the imbalances of power inherent to art’s transnational framework.
Underwood is a scholar and curator whose research focuses on artists from the African continent and the Diaspora and encompasses major themes of the Postwar-era such as post-colonialism, (trans)nationalism, globalization and biennialism. After receiving his PhD in Art History from Stony Brook, Underwood held research positions at the Musée Boribana, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Smithsonian National. He holds an academic position at Kent State University where he teaches modern and contemporary African art, the history of exhibition and display, and curatorial studies. Complementing his academic writing and presentations with curatorial projects — including “The View From Here: Contemporary Perspectives From Senegal” and “TEXTURES: The History and Art of Black Hair,” Underwood has won several awards, including a Tyson Scholar fellowship from the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art and an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.