Behind the Primitive Shadow:
History and Its Consequence on Contemporary African Art

My undergraduate thesis, written under the advising of Dr. Kellie Jones and Dr. Yvette Christianse, looks at the historical and curatorial framework of the Rockefeller Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which houses the art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Focusing in particular on the primary gallery of African art, I situate the wing within African art history as a discipline and explore the consequences of a primitivist framework on the display of El Anatsui’s Between Earth and Heaven, the only contemporary work on view in the gallery. I am particularly interested in how curatorial and exhibition strategies can be used to create more inclusive art spaces and the intersection of race and art history.