Tuesday, February 12, at 7:30 p.m. in Mary Baldwin University’s Francis Auditorium, Tosha Grantham, assistant curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, will give a free public slide lecture entitled “A Path to Abstraction: Norman Lewis and the New York School.”
Lewis is best known for his unwavering commitment to abstract painting from the 1940s through the 1970s. He was the only African American to be included in the Artists’ Sessions at the New York’s Studio 35 in the 1950s, when the Abstract Expressionist movement was being defined. Lewis was also prominent in the Harlem art community. Throughout his career, Lewis sought to reconcile the impulse to paint abstractly in the modernist sense with the apparently contradictory expectation that an African-American artist’s work should reflect racial identity.
Before Grantham began working at The Virginia Museum last June, she was at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where she was program coordinator for The Smithsonian Associates and Young Associates since 1997. She is also a freelance writer and curator. Her work has been published in The Washington Review of Literature and the Arts, The International Review of African American Art, and One World. In 1998, Grantham was the curator of Three27, a group exhibition featuring painting and sculpture by Adekoye Adams, Ricardo Henriquez, Kim LeDee, Jerome Meadows, Rene Toussaint, and Richard Ward. She was the guest curator of an exhibition of works by Sylvia Snowden that opened last September at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Grantham earned a bachelor of arts degree in art history in 1991 from Georgetown University and a master of arts degree in art history in 1997 from Howard University. At Howard, she concentrated on late 20th century art and the art of Africa and the African Diaspora.