For Immediate Release
September 15, 2017
Williamstown, Massachusetts—Victoria Rovine, a Fellow in the Clark Art Institute’s Research and Academic Program, presents the free lecture “Cloth and Colonialism: France, French West Africa, and the Construction of Cultures” on Tuesday, September 26 at 5:30 pm. The lecture will be held in the Michael Conforti Pavilion.
Cloth’s soft, pliable nature makes it an improbable vehicle for the assertion of power, yet it played a singular role in the history of French colonial West Africa. Rovine’s lecture explores how French authorities sought to use cloth to control and characterize West African cultures.
Victoria L. Rovine is professor of art history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of African Fashion Global Style: Histories, Innovations, and Ideas You Can Wear and Bogolan: Shaping Culture through Cloth in Contemporary Mali (Indiana University Press 2015 and 2008). Her current book project focuses on the exceptional roles of cotton and cotton textiles in colonial French West Africa, where cotton was simultaneously a key economic product and a prominent form of cultural expression. In the form of clothing, cotton was also a tool for cultural influence as well as resistance.

The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, consisting of more than 270,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are Tuesday–Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more information, visit clarkart.edu or call 413 458 2303.
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