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Porcelain sculpture with a white woman being attended by a Black servant

Race and Ornament: Seeing the Black Body in European Porcelain

Tue April 05, 2022 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Helen E. Gardiner Lecture
Part of the Gardiner Signature Lecture Series

Speaker: Dr. Adrienne L. Childs, Adjunct Curator at The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC


Tickets are PWYC, starting at $5.

This talks draws upon the work of Dr. Adrienne L. Childs for her upcoming publication Ornamental Blackness: The Black Figure in European Decorative Art. Dr. Childs will consider the fascinating and complex world of eighteenth-century European porcelain and depictions of black bodies, their possible meanings, sources, and afterlives.


Adrienne L. Childs is an art historian and curator. She is an adjunct curator at The Phillips Collection and associate of the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. She curated the exhibition Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition, 2020, at the Phillips Collection. The exhibition catalog Riffs and Relations won the 2020 James A Porter and David C. Driskell Book Award in African American Art History. Her current book project is Ornamental Blackness: The Black Figure in European Decorative Arts, forthcoming from Yale University Press.

She has held fellowships the Lunder Institute at the Colby College Museum of Art, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), The Hutchins Center at Harvard University, The Clark Art Institute and the David C. Driskell Center. She is co-curator of the recent exhibition The Black Figure in the European Imaginary at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College. She contributed to The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume V from Harvard University Press. Childs is co-editor of the book Blacks in European Art of the Long Nineteenth Century, Routledge. Her scholarly interests are the relationship between race and representation in European and American fine and decorative arts. She also served as curator at the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland where she curated numerous exhibitions of African American art.