The Museum of Modern Art announces the inaugural cohort of Ford Foundation Fellows-in-Residence: Brent Hayes Edwards, Joan Kee and Robin Coste Lewis. The program invites three acclaimed and inspiring thinkers to join the Museum for a one-year term to pursue independent research that contributes to new understandings of modern and contemporary art. In addition to conducting independent research, Edwards, Kee and Lewis will engage in conversations and projects that shape acquisitions and programming.
The three Ford Foundation Fellows-in-Residence vary in disciplines; each is highly respected as a thought leader and brings a distinctive perspective to the Museum. They were chosen by a review committee made up of external and internal members, including Elizabeth Alexander, Homi Bhabha, Huey Copeland, Leah Dickerman, Michelle Kuo and Martino Stierli.
Brent Hayes Edwards, recognized as one of the foremost scholars of African Diaspora literature, is the Peng Family Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he is also affiliated with the Center for Jazz. Studies and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Ongoing projects include a bilingual edition of the collected interwar articles of the Martinican intellectual Paulette Nardal; the restoration of Sweet Willie Rollbar’s Orientation, an experimental short film made in 1972 by Julius Hemphill and other members of the Black Artists’ Group in St. Louis; “Black Radicalism and the Archive” (based on the Du Bois Lectures Edwards presented at Harvard University in 2015); and a one-book cultural history of midtown Manhattan’s “loft jazz” scene in the 1970s. Edwards was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2015, and in 2020 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Joan Kee is a professor of art history at the University of Michigan. Kee is particularly interested in applied art history, where central methods of the discipline, such as close visual analysis, provide a framework for reflection on related cultural phenomena, from law to digital communication. His forthcoming book, The Geometries of Afro Asia: Art Beyond Solidarity (University of California Press, 2023), maps a history of art that begins with the global majority, spanning Asia, Africa, South America, North and Europe. The book centers the worlds that black and Asian artists initiate through their work from around 1960 to the present day.
Robin Coste Lewis is a writer, artist, and scholar, and is currently Writer-in-Residence at the University of Southern California. Her debut collection of poetry, Voyage of the Sable Venus, won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2015 – the first time a debut collection had won the award since 1974. In 2018, MoMA commissioned Lewis and Kevin Young to writing a series of poems to accompany Robert Rauschenberg’s drawings in Thirty-Four Illustrations of Dante’s Inferno (MoMA, 2018). His collaboration with artist Julie Mehretu, an installation featuring a temporal visual poem, was recently presented at the Marian Goodman gallery in Paris.