2020-2021: Mark Claster Mamolen Fellow
Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz is the Tanner-Opperman Chair of African Art History in Honor of Roy Sieber at Indiana University. An art historian with expertise in African and Caribbean artistic, visual and religious practices, his work challenges traditional disciplinary boundaries and examines the varied understandings of – and engagement with – ‘art’ and ‘visual culture.’
His books include Kongo Graphic Writing and Other Narratives of the Sign, Temple University Press, 2013 (English) and El Colegio de México, 2012 (Spanish); Faisal Abdu’Allah: On the Art of Dislocation, Atlantic Center of Modern Art Press, 2012; and Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds, Yale University Press, 2007, for which he received the College Art Association Alfred H. Barr Award.
Caribbean Foundations: African Art and Visual Culture in the making of Caribbean Art
The project investigates the emergence of African aesthetic and conceptual principles by collecting and analyzing evidence across academic disciplines and linguistic cultures (Spanish, Dutch, French, English). Caribbean Foundations considers a wide range of material, from the first stirrings in the early 16th century of Africans dislocated through the slave trade to the early 20th century, by which time most of the African artistic and cultural expressions were fully developed and firmly rooted throughout the Caribbean world.
The project brings together historic travel narratives and epistles with paintings, prints, maps and other traditional art forms with contemporary work by artists throughout the Caribbean. It traces the development of a spatial and conceptual framework of African artistic practices and how they inform Caribbean artistic traits. Furthermore, it examines the location of the “Afro” Latin American and the Caribbean in the historical and contemporary global visual scene.