Black Feminist Artists Tour – Women’s Art Collection X Murray Edwards College MCR

August 11, 2020 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Listen to the recording of the online talk by Alayo Akinkugbe and Anastasia Kolomiets focusing on works by four Black feminist artists in the Women’s Art Collection. The artists they discuss are Lubaina Himid, Maud Sulter, Emma Amos and Faith Ringgold.


About the artists: Lubaina Himid is an artist, curator and academic. She was one of the leading figures of the Black Art movement in the 1980s. Himid gives presence and agency to Black history, identity and narratives, which are often overlooked or misrepresented by the dominant discourse and culture. She does this not only through her art, but also through curating. In her curatorial work, she seeks to promote, celebrate and platform Black creativity, especially Black women artists. She also undermines and satirises dominant societal and cultural orthodoxies, which are normally white-centric and patriarchal. In 2017, she became the first woman of colour to win the Turner Prize. Her works In Spinster Salt’s Collection and Sour Grapes are from The Wing Museum series (1989) and are part of the Women’s Art Collection.

Maud Sulter was a Scottish artist, poet, playwright, curator and cultural historian of Ghanaian and Scottish descent. Her work focuses on giving agency to figures who are often marginalised, misrepresented or dismissed in culture and history. Sulter reclaims representation, exploring and documenting Black women’s creativity and power. Sulter and Himid were friends and worked closely together on several curatorial and publication projects. Together they edited the book ‘Passion: Discourses in Blackwomen’s Creativity’ which was the first book dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating Black women artists in the UK. Sulter’s work Phalia (Portrait of Alice Walker) from the photographic series Zabat (1989) is in the Women’s Art Collection.

Emma Amos was an African American artist and academic. She was the only female member of Spiral, the collective of African American artists, when she joined in 1963 and also participated in the feminist art collective Fantastic Women in the Arts throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and in Heresies in the 1980s. Her oeuvre is seen to blur the lines between concepts of ‘High Art’ and ‘Low Art’ often combining media including weaving, painting, printing and photography. Her work in the Women’s Art Collection is Identity (2006) a portrait that explores concepts of colour, individuality and unity.

Faith Ringgold is an artist and writer, with a career spanning more than six decades. Her identity as a storyteller and writer is evident in many of her works, as she frequently incorporates text particularly in the borders of her quilts. Ringgold has participated in many feminist and anti-racist organisations, being a founding member of Where We At Black Women Artists and the National Black Feminist Organization. Her work in the Women’s Art Collection is a digital lithograph. Coming to Jones’ Road Under a Blood Red Sky #8 (2007) is typical of the work she was creating in the 1990s. It is part of Femfolio which brings together the work of twenty women artists who were influential in the feminist art movement of the 1970s in America, in which Emma Amos’ Identity is also included.

About the speakers: Alayo Akinkugbe is a History of Art undergraduate, University of Cambridge. She runs the Instagram account @ABlackHistoryofArt which highlights the overlooked Black artists, sitters, curators and thinkers from Art History and the present day. She is also a member of the Decolonise History of Art student-led activist group that works to tackle white-centrism and Eurocentrism in the History of Art curriculum and beyond. She worked on the art editorial team of The Mays, edited by Zoë Matt-Williams and guest edited by artist Oscar Murillo and human rights lawyer Philippe Sands.

Anastasia Kolomiets is a History of Art undergraduate, University of Cambridge. She is also a member of Decolonise History of Art student-led activist group. Earlier this year, she was one of a team of students helping to organise International Women’s Day celebration events at the Women’s Art Collection. She was on the art editorial team of The Mays, edited by Zoë Matt-Williams and guest edited by artist Oscar Murillo and human rights lawyer Philippe Sands.

The Murray Edwards MCR is proud co-organise this event with the Women’s Art Collection. The MCR, short for “Main Common Room”, is a student body elected by postgraduates (Masters and PhDs) of Murray Edwards College. We are a body of dedicated student officers looking after student welfare and making sure that postgraduate students’ views are represented in discussions with the College and University. This virtual tour is an initiative under the Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) profile. The MCR has other dedicated profiles and roles such as the LGBTQ+ Officer, the Green Officer and the Welfare Officer.

We have compiled a list of organisations aimed at supporting the lives of Black, Indigeous and People Of Colour (BIPOC) and furthering BlPOC causes if you would like to donate after the event.

Visual graphics by Zoë Matt-Williams @franticsoup