She is number 1

Shawnya L. Harris Georgia Museum of ArtShawnya L. Harris became the first Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of African American and African Diasporic Art recently for the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia in Athens. Dr. William Underwood Eiland, director of the museum, said, “Dr. Harris’ arrival at the museum as our first Thompson Curator marks not only a new initiative for the museum, but also endless possibilities for collaboration with other departments at the university and with our communities of service in Georgia. She will, in effect, transform and fulfill our mission.”

Harris comes to the university from Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where she taught courses in African American art, 20th-century art and art appreciation, as well as survey courses on the history of Western art. She has also organized exhibitions focusing on the artists John Wilson, James McMillan, Joyce Wellman, Joseph Holston and Richard Hunt. In addition, she has spoken widely on the concept of “African American art” and wrote her dissertation on the topic. As the first curator to occupy the position at the Georgia Museum of Art, she has an opportunity to help shape how the museum displays and communicates about works of African American and African art, especially as it embarks upon a reinstallation of its permanent collection in the near future.


Shawnya L. Harris holds both Masters and doctoral degrees in art history from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, and she received her bachelor’s degree in African American Studies from Yale University.

     In addition to teaching at UNC Chapel Hill and Middle Tennessee State University, Harris has a wealth of museum experience. She served as director of the University Galleries at North Carolina A&T State University, in Greensboro, North Carolina, for eight years, during which time she developed and planned its annual exhibition schedule, programmed artists’ talks and lectures related to the art and culture of the African diaspora, developed a student volunteer group and internship program, worked to commission art and schedule artists in residence, helped implement her museum’s first digital collections database and initiated and sustained a conservation initiative working with the Winterthur Conservation Institute and the University of Delaware art conservation department. Prior to that directorship, she worked as an art consultant at North Carolina Central University’s art museum and as a research assistant at UNC Chapel Hill’s Ackland Art Museum.



Published by on September 2015. Filed under Art-to-Art Palette NewsWire/AAPNW, At the Museums dept, Georgia, PaletteBoards Section, People and Places. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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