We are joined for this episode by Alisa LaGamma, the curator of the MET museum exhibit “KONGO: Power and Majesty” to discuss this landmark art exhibition that will radically redefine our understanding of Africa’s relationship with the West. Learn about the opening of an art exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art which opened September 18th, 2015. The exhibit focuses on one of the continent’s most influential artistic traditions, from the earliest moment of direct engagement between African and European leaders at the end of the 15th century through the early 20th century.
Alisa LaGamma is the Ceil and Michael Pulitzer Curator in Charge of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her work has been instrumental in rethinking the history of sub-Saharan African art and culture.
Currently on view at the Metropolitan is her focus exhibition Mothers and Warriors: Epic Mbembe Art and this fall her project Kongo: Majesty and Power will be launched.
In 2012 the Bard Graduate Center recognized her work with the Iris Award for Outstanding Scholarship. LaGamma’s Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures publication received the 2012 International Tribal Art Book Prize. In 2007 the Association of Art Museum Curators recognized the publication for her exhibition Eternal Ancestors: Art of the Central African Reliquary as among the profession’s outstanding exhibition catalogues.
Her 2008 exhibition The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End addressed historical continuities between classical forms of expression from sub-Saharan Africa and the work of leading contemporary artists from the region.
LaGamma is a 1988 graduate of the University of Virginia and received her MA and PhD in art history from Columbia University. Her 1995 dissertation: “The Art of the Punu Mukudj Masquerade: Portrait of an Equatorial Society” was based on a year of fieldwork in southern Gabon.
Born in Lubumbashi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, LaGamma spent formative years living in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Nigeria, Togo, and South Africa.
She has taught as a visiting professor in the art history departments at Columbia University, Rutgers, the University of Pennsylvania, the Bard Graduate Center, and New York University’s Institute of Fine of Fine Arts and is a member of the editorial board of the journal African Arts.
From 2009-10 she served as Chair of the Metropolitan’s Forum of Curators, Conservators, and Scientists.