Skip to Main Content
Tags for: “What’s in a Label?” A Colloquium
  • Lecture
Helmet mask (detail). Unidentified artist. Wood; L. 102.9 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago, African and Amerindian Purchase Fund, 1963.842

Helmet mask (detail). Unidentified artist. Wood; L. 102.9 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago, African and Amerindian Purchase Fund, 1963.842

“What’s in a Label?” A Colloquium

Friday, April 10, 2015, 3:30–5:00 p.m. and Saturday, April 11, 2015, 10:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Location:  003 Special Exhibition Hall
Recital Hall
The Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall
Carolyn and Jack Lampl Jr. Family Recital Hall
Recital Hall and the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall

About The Event

Join a group of distinguished scholars and CMA staff members for a series of lively conversations inspired by the exhibition Senufo: Art and Identity in West Africa. Through group discussions in the exhibition, and dialogues and lectures in the Recital Hall, this two-day gathering will discuss the ambiguity surrounding the application of the name Senufo to the arts. Who applies certain labels to art in order to identify or circumscribe it? When, where, why, how, on what basis, and for what ends do they do so?

Speakers include Nichole Bridges, Saint Louis Art Museum; Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi, Emory University, Atlanta; Barbara Hoffman, Cleveland State University; Mary Nooter Roberts and Allen F. Roberts, University of California, Los Angeles; Nii Quarcoopome, The Detroit Institute of Arts; and Raymond Silverman, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Friday, April 10 
From Idea to Exhibition
3:30–5:00 p.m.  

By paying attention to matters of design and display, a guided tour will reveal how a thesis derived from scholarly research is translated into an exhibition. Discussion will focus on issues of labels and labeling, both in terms of the works’ attributions and gallery didactics.

With Andrew Gutierrez, exhibition designer, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi, assistant professor in the Art History Department, Emory University, Atlanta, and curatorial advisor to Senufo: Art and Identity in West Africa. Moderated by Constantine Petridis, curator of African art, the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Meet at the atrium information desk. Exhibition ticket required.


Saturday, April 11
African Art in Practice
10:15–11:45 a.m.

Drawing on concrete examples from personal experience, two leading curators of African art will address the limitations of labels and other didactic materials in the communication of complex ideas in both permanent collection displays and temporary exhibitions.

With Nichole N. Bridges, associate curator in charge of the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, Saint Louis Art Museum; and Nii O. Quarcoopome, head of the Department of Africa, Oceania, and the Indigenous Americas, Detroit Institute of Arts, and curator of African art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City. Moderated by Barbara G. Hoffman, professor in the Department of Anthropology and director of the Visual Anthropology Center, Cleveland State University.

Meet at the entrance to the exhibition. Exhibition ticket required.


Beyond Africa
1:00–2:30 p.m. 

Concerns about the vagaries of identity and the shortcomings of labels extend beyond the study and display of arts from the African continent. Curators in charge of two different collection areas at the Cleveland Museum of Art explain how similar concerns apply to their respective galleries.

With Barbara Tannenbaum, curator of photography, and Sonya Rhie Quintanilla, curator of Indian and Southeast Asian art, and moderated by Jennifer Foley, director of interpretation, the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Meet in the Photography Gallery.

Coffee Break
2:30–3:00 p.m.  
Refreshments available in the recital hall lobby.

African Art in Focus
3:00–4:30 p.m.  
The complex relationships between ethnic or cultural identity and attribution relate to both West and Central African arts, including in the Bondoukou region of Côte d’Ivoire and among Luba and related peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

3:00–3:30 p.m. Côte d’Ivoire—Raymond A. Silverman, professor in the Departments of History of Art and of Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; with a response by Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi, Emory University, Atlanta.

3:30–4:00 p.m. Democratic Republic of the Congo—Mary Nooter Roberts and Allen F. Roberts, both professors in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, University of California, Los Angeles; with a response by Constantine Petridis, the Cleveland Museum of Art.

4:00–4:30 p.m. Discussion—Audience members are invited to pose their own questions to the panel.