Monica Blackmun Visonà
Monica Blackmun Visonà came to the University of Kentucky from Metropolitan State College of Denver, where she headed the art history program. She teaches a wide variety of courses on African Art, and has supervised a master’s thesis on the arts of the Sotho people of southern Africa. In addition to a survey of the arts of the African continent, she teaches “Egyptology” and “Five Thousand Years of Egyptian Art.” One new course, “Twelve Artists, Twelve Cultures,” compares artistic practices around the world. Her seminars introduce graduate and undergraduate students to “Arts of the Akan,” “Installation Art,” “Art of Contemporary Africa” and “Modernism and Modernity in African Art.” She shares responsibilities for a capstone course on “Art History Methods” with Dr. Bryzski, and her seminars on African architecture are cross-listed with the College of Design.
Dr. Visonà has published numerous articles based upon her fieldwork in the Lagoons region of Côte d’Ivoire, including “Redefining Twentieth Century African Art: The View from the Lagoons of Côte d’Ivoire,” appearing in a special issue of the journal African Arts in 2006. Her reflections upon this multidisciplinary research were published by Ashgate in November, 2010 as Constructing African Art Histories for the Lagoon Region of Côte d’Ivoire. The book examines the methodologies and theoretical paradigms of art historical practice in Africa. In addition to probing the intersections between art history, archaeology, anthropology, and art criticism in the study of Lagoon arts, it compares an Africanist’s use of provenance, archival documentation, and connoisseurship to those of scholars in other fields of art history.
The personal histories of Lagoon works now residing in Europe and the United States have led Dr. Visonà to write an essay, “Agent Provocateur? The African Provenance and American Life of a Statue from Côte d’Ivoire.” She also contributed a catalogue entry for a Lagoon statue and photograph featured in an exhibition on Man Ray, African Art and the Modernist Lens. Dr. Visonà is in the planning stages of her own exhibition, tentatively titled Divinely Inspired African Artists of the Lagoons of Côte d’Ivoire.
As the titles of her seminars suggest, Dr. Visonà is particularly interested in modernism and modernity in the arts of the African continent. Two visits to Ghana in 2009 and 2007 allowed her to research recent art in a broad variety of urban and rural settings. Her interviews with two prominent artists during a 2008 trip to Cairo have resulted in an article published in Africa e Mediterraneo. She is currently co-editing a Companion to the Modern Art of Africa for Blackwell, whose invited essays will analyze historical developments in art across the continent.
Monica Blackmun Visonà is best known as the lead author and project coordinator of a prize-winning survey, A History of Art in Africa. In 2007 she directed the production of a new edition of this influential text, and she continues to be passionately involved with pedagogical issues in the field.
- Faculty & Staff