The Conversation, 1981

National Symposium Series

The symposium series, established in 1998, significantly advances the Foundation’s mission and supports our ongoing effort to be an important resource to the field. Each symposium is held in collaboration with higher education and cultural institutions across the country, with the express purpose of bringing together a generational mix of scholars and artists who offer fresh ideas and an interdisciplinary approach to Bearden’s work. Symposium panel discussions among scholars, artists, and educators, relate to the life and art of Romare Bearden.

The scholarly review of Bearden’s art, life and legacy is at the core of the Foundation’s mission. As the custodian of his legacy, the Foundation has long recognized the gaps and the inconsistencies in scholarship on Bearden as a master visual artist and collagist as well as scholar/author/educator/collaborator/jazz-aficionado/songwriter/institution-builder, who operated far beyond narrowly defined art historical parameters.

Currently the Foundation is developing symposia topics on Bearden’s activism, and his Southern work and are looking to partner in Baltimore and/or Atlanta.

Our Last Symposium

Romare Bearden in the Public Realm

Romare Bearden’s art and life can be described as intimately connected by the rich texture of his African American history and experiences and by the artistic, intellectual, social and political pursuits that kept him engaged within and outside of his studio.

The symposium Romare Bearden in the Public Realm, panel discussions and conversations among scholars and artists to be presented in Pittsburgh in fall 2009, will examine this connection’s manifestation. The subject matter and sources that Bearden found within his own life experiences, from popular culture and art history, as well as in the political and social causes in which he participated all contributed to the artistic medium he used in his communicating with the public, beyond the walls of art galleries and museums.

The symposium will bring together scholars and artists from across the country to examine how Bearden, as a student of art and art history, often merged the message and medium in his art, especially in the form of political cartoons, public art commissions and prints, which enabled him to communicate with a broader public.

2010 Symposium Panels and Participants

Keynote address by Dr. Mary Schmidt-Campbell, Dean, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU & A conversation with John Edgar Wideman writer, Brown University, RI with Jacqueline Francis, Ph.D., California College of the Arts

Partners include The August Wilson Center for Art and Culture, and the University of Pittsburgh. This program was made possible by The Heinz Endowments.

Bearden in Posterity

  • Bridget Cooks, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine
  • David Driskell, Artist and Scholar, Driskell Center, MD
  • Jerald Melberg, Jerald Melberg Gallery, NC
  • Moderator Jacqueline Francis, Ph.D., California College of the Arts

Bearden and the Performing Arts

  • Walter Rutledge, Choreographer and Associate Artistic Director of the Nanette Bearden Contemporary Dance Theatre, NY
  • Sandra Shannon, Ph.D., Howard University, DC
  • Harry Elam, Ph.D., Stanford University, CA
  • Moderator Kimberly C. Ellis Dr. Goddess, Ph.D. & performer, PA

Pittsburgh Memories

  • Laurence Glasco, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
  • John M. Brewer, Trolley Station Oral History Museum, PA
  • Kymberly N. Pinder, Ph.D., School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Moderator Joe Trotter, Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University, PA

Art in the Service of Politics

  • Robert G. O’Meally, Ph.D., Columbia University, NY
  • Amy Kirschke, Ph.D., University North Carolina-Wilmington
  • Stacy I. Morgan, Ph.D., University of Alabama
  • Moderator Kirk Savage, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh

The Medium Is the Message

  • Camara Dia Holloway, Ph.D., University of Delaware
  • Carol Brown, Founding President of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
  • Nikki Greene, Ph.D., Swarthmore College
  • Moderator Richard Purcell, PhD., Carnegie-Mellon University

Printmaking as Practice

  • Kathy Caraccio, Artist and Master Printer, NY
  • Mary Lee Corlett, National Gallery of Art, DC
  • Joseph Kleineman and Maureen Turci, JK Fine Art Editions, NJ
  • Moderator Pamela Ford, Artist and former Program Director of the Romare Bearden Foundation

Other Past Symposia Included:

Romare Bearden in the Modernist Tradition, presented at Columbia College Chicago at the Film Row Cinema Theater.

April 20 – 21, 2007

The sessions for this symposium were based on key themes: Bearden’s practice in relation to early modernism and the artists and artistic movements that influenced him; the interchange between Bearden and his peers in several disciplines; Bearden’s influence on subsequent generations of artists as a towering figure in African American art and his far-reaching influence in the African Diaspora; and Bearden’s use of photography, photostat and other technology through the lens of post-modernist discourse and practice.

Presenters included: Artists Dawoud Bey, Emma Amos, Mel Edwards, William T. Williams, Paul Miller, and Allen Edwards; Scholars Courtney Martin, Kym Pinder, Greg Foster, Amy Moody, Robert O’Meally, Raél Jero Salley, Geoffrey Jacques, Helen Shannon, and Diedra Harris-Kelley

*Presentations from this symposium were compiled and transcribed into a companion publication that examines in depth Bearden’s connection to modernism as an artist and scholar. Romare Bearden in the Modernist Tradition was published by the Bearden Foundation in 2010, this is now available to the field.
Romare Bearden / Conjuring Women conference in partnership with Duke University, NC

Organized around an exhibition by the same name Conjuring Women was focused on the idea of the "conjur" woman and "Obeah man," seminal and recurring themes in Bearden's art and in southern African-American culture.

The exhibition and convening was hosted at the Nasher Museum of Art, and organized by Richard J. Powell, Duke's John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History. The two-day scholarly symposium included, a jazz concert with the late pianist Geri Allen.

A 100-page color catalogue includes images of works in the exhibition, a biography of the artist, and essays by Powell and four undergraduate students: Margaret DiGiulio, Alicia Garcia, Victoria Trout and Christine Wang.
Romare Bearden’s World: a Symposium, in partnership with Columbia University, Center for Jazz Studies, NY

As part of the citywide celebration of Bearden’s legacy participants in a week long symposium took a look not just at his work but also at the ways in which he inspired artists in a number of media.

Organized by Robert O’Meally, the discussions were joined by Farah Jasmine Griffin, Diedra Harris-Kelley; art historians Mary Schmidt-Campbell, Lowery Stokes-Sims, Ruth Fine; Kellie Jones; Bridget Cooks, and others. Actors Charles S. Dutton and S. Epatha Merkerson performed readings of August Wilson’s Bearden-inspired plays (Piano Lesson, and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone).

The presentations traced Bearden’s growth and sphere of influence by bringing together his friends, art historians and artists in three panel discussions. Punctuated with stories told by longtime friends, the series examined Bearden’s life and early influences and culminated with a keynote address by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison.
@ All Rights Reserved. The Romare Beard Foundation by TAM