By Maria Saporta
Brownlee is an Atlanta resident, art historian, curator and writer. She currently is the director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, the only U.S. museum dedicated to visual art made by and about women of the African Diaspora. As the ninth Driskell Prize recipient, Brownlee will be honored at the Driskell Prize Dinner in Atlanta on April 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the High Museum of Art’s Wieland Pavilion.
According to Tuesday’s announcement by the High Museum of Art, the Driskell Prize recognizes a scholar or artist in the beginning or middle of his or her career whose work makes an original and important contribution to the field of African-American art or art history.
The annual award is named for David E. Driskell, the renowned African-American artist and art scholar.
“Andrea Barnwell Brownlee’s leadership for the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art has helped engage thousands of visitors through highly significant exhibitions and acquisitions,” said Michael E. Shapiro, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., Director of the High, said in the release. “Her vision for the museum and passion for the arts exemplifies the qualities of the David C. Driskell Prize.”
The selection process for the 2013 recipient of the Driskell Prize began with a call for nominations from a national pool of artists, curators, teachers, collectors and art historians. Brownlee was chosen from these nominations by review committee members assembled by the High Museum of Art, including the High’s Michael Rooks, curator of modern and contemporary art; Lily Siegel, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art; and 2011 Driskell Prize recipient Valerie Cassel Oliver.
This year’s Driskell Prize Dinner is co-chaired by Joe Bankoff, Juanita Baranco and Ingrid Saunders Jones with Honorary Chair Sally McDaniel.
The High announcement said that Brownlee is widely recognized for her leadership, ambitious vision and the impactful exhibition agenda she established at Spelman College. Spelman exhibitions Brownlee’s curated or co-curated include:
iona rozeal brown: a³ . . . black on both sides (2004)
Amalia Amaki: Boxes, Buttons and the Blues (2005)
Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet and the Academy (2007)
Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970 (2007)
María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Dreaming of an Island (2008)
Undercover: Performing and Transforming Black Female Identities (2009), and
IngridMwangiRobertHutter: Constant Triumph (2011)
During spring 2012, Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970, which she co-curated with Cassel Oliver, senior curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, earned international recognition when it was featured in the 11th Havana Biennial.
It was the first time a curatorial team from the U.S. was invited to participate in the official program of the Havana Biennial, the longest running international biennial dedicated to presenting works of art from Latin America, Asia and Africa.
In 2011, Brownlee spearheaded 15 x 15, an initiative to acquire 15 works of art in celebration of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art’s 15th anniversary. An alumna of Spelman College, Brownlee earned her Ph.D. in art history from Duke University in 2001.
Also an alumna of the Getty Leadership Institute, Brownlee is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors. She served on the boards of several arts organizations including the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences and the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund and has recently joined the board of WonderRoot.
In 2008, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin selected Brownlee to serve as vice chair of the City of Atlanta Arts Funding Task Force.
In addition to the Driskell Prize, Brownlee previously earned numerous academic, professional and scholarly awards including a MacArthur Curatorial Fellowship in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Art Institute of Chicago (1998 – 2000), a Future Women Leadership Award from Art Table (2005), and the President’s Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art (2005). In 2010, Brownlee received the inaugural Nexus Award from the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center.