Pylon of the Nubian Lion Temple at Naga, Sudan, c. 1–20 C.E. (photo: TrackHD, CC BY 3.0)

Lecture: A Cannon to the Canon? Case Studies in Moving Beyond the Textbook

Join the Lyman Allyn and PARJE (Public Art for Racial Justice Education) for a lecture with Olivia Chiang, founder of the project “Not your grandfather’s art history: A BIPOC Reader,” on Saturday, March 9 at 3 pm at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum.

Cost: Free

Registration Recommended: Call the Lyman Allyn at 860-443-2545 ext. 2129 or email [email protected].

This program will introduce the NEH grant-funded project, “Not your grandfather’s art history: A BIPOC Reader,” a collaboration with led by Olivia Chiang, that includes 20 essays authored largely by scholars of color and which aims to broaden the scope of the traditional art historical canon.

During the program, Chiang will examine two case studies from the Reader: The Lion Temple at Naga in Nubia (modern-day Sudan) and what it can tell us about Nubia’s cultural relationship with ancient Egypt, but also uniquely Nubian concepts of gender roles in royal power.

Chiang also examine the case of The Calling of Saint Matthew, painted by Juan de Pareja in 1661, the former enslaved assistant of Diego Velázquez, who went on to live life as a free artist in 17th-century Spain. We will explore how Pareja established his own identity through this religious work against the backdrop of a race-based society.

This presentation will examine how history is constructed- in textbooks, classrooms, and museum spaces, and will include a time for open conversation with participants about their experiences in seeking and finding historical narratives that challenge the traditional canon of art history.

About the Speaker:

Olivia Chiang is currently Professor of art history at Connecticut State Community College where she has taught since 2011.  She received her BA in History and Art History from Tufts University and her MA from Yale University. Since 2014, she has focused on increasing the diversity of artists, cultures, and works represented in introductory art history courses, as well as on ensuring the accessibility of art history courses and materials to all students. Olivia currently teaches courses on Global Art History as well as on Black Art History and has also lectured on contemporary Native American art. In 2021, she received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop an open access anthology of art historical essays largely written by scholars and artists of color.

About PARJE:

Public Art for Racial Justice Education began shortly after the tragic killing of George Floyd.  We are a broadly based, interracial, non-partisan, non-sectarian organization consisting of volunteers from the communities of East Lyme, Lyme, New London, Norwich, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Essex, Waterford, Stonington and are open to other neighboring communities who would like to join us.

As our country struggles to address the underlying issues of racial injustice, we believe that public art has an important role in racial justice awareness and helping to build “the Beloved Community” envisioned by Martin Luther King Jr. Public art can help bring to light the history of the displacement of Indigenous communities, as well as the history of the use of slaves in local households, farms, the whaling industry, the building of ships in the West Indies Trade and the ivory industry.   Through public art and accompanying public programs, we can better understand our true history, but also, it can help us to appreciate the rich diversity of our human family and challenge us to be engaged in contemporary racial justice issues.

Learn more about PARJE on their website: 


Mar 09 2024


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
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