Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte, NC, Offers Lecture by Art Historian Robert Farris Thompson – Apr. 14, 2011

Yale University art historian Robert Farris Thompson will share Cultural Influences from the Kingdom of Kongo to the United States South on Thursday, April 14, 2011, in the Wells Fargo Auditorium at Knight Theater at 6pm.  This conversation is one in a series of free, public lectures launched in 2010 by the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte, NC.

Lauded as an engaging and captivating speaker, The New York Times says “… Thompson is a professor of art history, but he takes his subject in the round … he is part anthropologist, part art critic, part musicologist, part student of religion and philosophy, and entirely an enthusiastic partisan of what he writes about.”

In this Conversations @ Gantt, participants will follow the track of obvious links from the kingdom of Kongo to the southern United States. Highlighting direct influences, Thompson will share videos allowing viewers to compare Kongo dances to two versions of the twist, in Kongo and under the tutelage of Chubby Checker in the US. He will also trace the unbroken heritage of patting juba (dancing, slapping thighs and chest) from Kongo Angola to northwestern Alabama.

The discussion is free and open to the public; however, reservations are required at (www.ganttcenter.org). Participants must present a printed confirmation for admission.

Future Conversations @ Gantt speakers include Professor Andrea Simpson on May 19, 2011, and Pamela Ford on Sept. 3, 2011, in conjunction with the opening of the Center’s Romare Bearden exhibition.

Starting with an article on Afro-Cuban dance and music published in 1958, Thompson has spent his life studying the arts of Afro-Atlantic cultures and is a leading authority on the art and music of the African diaspora. An acclaimed Yale University art historian, Thompson has published texts on the structure and meaning of African dance and an art history reader on the Black Americas. He has also been hailed for the soaring lyricism of his pose and his inspirational public speaking.

Thompson is the outgoing master of Dwight College at Yale University. He was the longest serving master in the history of the residential colleges.

Founded in 1974, Charlotte’s Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture (formerly the Afro-American Cultural Center) exists to present, preserve and promote African-American art, culture and history. The Harvey B. Gantt Center is an epicenter for the best in visual, performing and literary arts and leads community outreach initiatives and arts education programs. Built to museum standards, it is also the permanent home for the John & Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art.

For further information visit (www.ganttcenter.org).

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