UCLA Art History Professor Wins Prestigious Two Year Appointment at the National Gallery of Art

Published: August 6, 2018

By Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications UCLA International Institute, August 1, 2018 —

The Director of the UCLA African Studies Center, Professor of African and African American Art History Steven Nelson, has received a prestigious two-year research fellowship at the Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) of the National Gallery of Art. Nelson will take a leave of absence from ASC, which will be helmed in his absence by Andrew Apter, professor of anthropology and history at UCLA.

Named the Andrew W. Mellon Professor for 2018–2020 at CASVA, Nelson will take up residence in Washington, DC, in September. The research fellowship includes a study in the East Wing of the National Gallery, participation in CASVA’s lectures and colloquia program and unparalleled access to the art collections, library and archives of the National Gallery. Fellows may also access the collections of the Library of Congress and other specialized research libraries and collections in the Washington metropolitan area.

“I am thrilled to have been named the Andrew W. Mellon Professor at CASVA. It will be a great pleasure to participate in its wonderful community of scholars for the next two years,” said Nelson. “In addition to working on new initiatives in African American art in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art, the opportunity to devote my time to research, writing and intellectual exchange — not to mention immersion in the art and archives of the National Gallery as well as those of other Washington institutions — is simply invaluable for an art historian,” he continued.

“Moreover,” he remarked, “I’m delighted that Lauren Taylor, one of my doctoral students and CASVA’s Andrew W. Mellon predoctoral fellow for 2017–2019, will be in residence for the coming academic year.”

CASVA is a special center of the National Gallery that is privately funded through endowments and grants. The center hosts three named professors, a named lecturer, roughly 18 senior fellows and 15 predoctoral fellows each academic year. The Andrew W. Mellon Professor is the only center professorship that has a duration of two years.

Nelson has had a very busy 2018 to date. In March, he spent a month in residence at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences) in Paris, where he gave a series of lectures on contemporary African and African diasporic art. He then spent a month in residence at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogatá in July, where he taught a course on African photography. He also visited and consulted on local archives and collections of African art.

And before taking up residence at CASVA, he will travel to Australia in August to deliver the Keir Lectures on Art, which are supported by the Keir Foundation. Focused on contemporary African and Afro-Atlantic disaporic artists and filmmakers, the lectures will take place at the Universities of Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland.

Nelson’s global reach is a reflection of the growing demand for expertise on African and African diasporic art and architecture on the part of students, universities, galleries and museums worldwide. The UCLA International Institute congratulates Steven on his latest award and wishes him great enjoyment of his fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts.