For Immediate Release
October 22, 2019
Williamstown, Massachusetts—On Friday, November 1, at 5:30 pm, the Clark Art Institute’s Research and Academic Program hosts a keynote lecture by Curatorial Fellow Adrienne Childs. The lecture, “Material Matters: Race and Materiality in the Decorative Arts,” will be held in the Clark’s auditorium, located in the Manton Research Center, and is free and open to the public.

Childs examines several decorative arts pieces that exemplify what she calls “Ornamental Blackness”: a seventeenth-century ebony “blackamoor” cabinet, an eighteenth-century sterling silver slave candlestick, and a twenty-first-century black Murano glass chandelier. She discusses the implications of luxury objects that reference the ornamental black body and the significance of the precious raw materials out of which they were often fashioned as well as how the jarring combination of enslaved body and luxury materiality reveal complexities of race and representation in the Atlantic world.

This program is made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Childs is an independent art historian and curator and an associate of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. She is the guest curator of Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition, The Philips Collection, 2020. Her book project is Ornamental Blackness: The Black Body in European Decorative Arts. At the Clark she joins Christa Clarke to develop the exhibition Black Baroque: Exuberant Presence in Contemporary Art that considers black artists who reference the art of the Baroque period as well as manifest affinities with the baroque as a style, idea, or sensibility.
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 275,000 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, which has a three-star rating in the Michelin Green Guide, is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm; open daily in July and August. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. Free admission is available through several programs, including First Sundays Free; a local library pass program; EBT Card to Culture; and Blue Star Museums. For more information on these programs and more, visit or call 413 458 2303.
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