The Ford Foundation Scholars in Residence at The Museum of Modern Art will be inspiring thinkers who offer fresh perspectives on the history of modern and contemporary art, and on the Museum’s collection and archives. This pilot program seeks to support the work of three thought leaders with demonstrated records of achievement to pursue their own independent research projects that make use of MoMA’s resources. The Scholars will also participate in internal curatorial conversations that set the course for the Museum’s collection presentation, exhibitions, acquisitions, and programming.
Ford Foundation Scholars in Residence
2022–23 Ford Scholars
Brent Hayes Edwards is the Peng Family Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he is also affiliated with the Center for Jazz Studies and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. His scholarship and teaching touch on areas including African diasporic literature, theories of the archive, cultural politics in Harlem and Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, Surrealism, experimental poetics, translation studies, and jazz.
His prize-winning first book, The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (2003), explores the networks of correspondence and debate among artists and intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance and their Francophone African and Caribbean counterparts in Paris during the interwar period. Edwards has also assembled scholarly editions of classic works by W. E. B. Du Bois, Frederick Douglass, Joseph Conrad, and Claude McKay, and he serves as the Harlem Renaissance section editor for the Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Recent publications include his 2017 translation of Phantom Africa, Michel Leiris’s monumental 1934 classic of French anthropology, and Edwards’s own book Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination (2017), a study of the interrelations between jazz and literature in African American culture.
Joan Kee is a professor in the History of Art at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on how modern and contemporary artworks challenge our understandings of words like “world,” “value,” “abstraction,” and “scale.” In Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method (2013), Kee argued that close attention to process in the works of artists like Ha Chonghyun, Park Seobo, Lee Ufan, Yun Hyongkeun, and Kwon Young-woo set materiality against the imposition of meaning in authoritarian South Korea. Kee is especially interested in what might be called an applied art history, in which methods central to the discipline—close visual analysis in particular—offer a framework for thinking about related cultural phenomena, from law to digital communication. Partly based on her experiences as a lawyer working in a range of areas from criminal defense to family mediation, Models of Integrity: Art and Law in Post-Sixties America (2019) explores how artists engaged with US law in ways that aimed to recuperate the integrity compromised by the very institutions supposedly entrusted with establishing standards of just conduct. Forthcoming in 2023, her book The Geometries of Afro Asia: Art Beyond Solidarity, asks how we might tell a history of art that begins with the global majority, spanning Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe. It sets at its center the worlds Black and Asian artists initiate through their work from roughly 1960 to the present.
Robin Coste Lewis is a writer, artist, and scholar, and is currently a writer-in-residence at the University of Southern California. Her debut poetry collection, Voyage of the Sable Venus, won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2015—the first time a poetry debut had won the award since 1974. Voyage of the Sable Venus was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize, the Hurston-Wright Award, and the California Book Award. In 2018, MoMA commissioned both Lewis and Kevin Young to write a series of poems to accompany Robert Rauschenberg’s drawings in Thirty-Four Illustrations of Dante’s Inferno (2018). Lewis is also the author of Inhabitants and Visitors, a chapbook published by Clockshop for the Huntington Library and Museum. Born in Compton, Lewis was the poet laureate for the City of Los Angeles from 2017 to 2020. In 2018, Lewis received a Woman of the Year award from Los Angeles County. Lewis is also recipient of the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, and a Cave Canem fellowship, among others. In addition to writing, Lewis regularly collaborates with visual artists, including Glenn Ligon, Lorna Simpson, and Julie Mehretu. Her own text and image projects have been exhibited at the Huntington Museum, the Underground Museum, Hauser & Wirth, and Galerie Marian Goodman (Paris). Lewis received her BA from Hampshire College; an MTS degree in Sanskrit from Harvard University’s Divinity School; an MFA in poetry at NYU; and a PhD from the University of Southern California, where she was a Provost’s Fellow in poetry and visual studies.
Nomination (or Self-Nomination)
The Ford Foundation’s support enables a two-year pilot of the program. The nomination period for the 2023–24 class of Ford Scholars will open in fall 2022.
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