Alumni Lecture Series
Dr. Robert O’Meally will present “We Are All a Collage: Romare Bearden, Toni Morrison, Duke Ellington”
7 pm, Tuesday, February 19, 2013 • Hulsey Recital Hall
Sponsored by John S. Jemison Visiting Professorship in the Humanities
This talk takes seriously the modernist assertion that we are all collages--as human communities and as individuals. Looking closely at several of Bearden's paintings, as well as works by Morrison and Ellington--we will consider modern ways of making art as part of an ongoing project of "getting ourselves together": of stitching and re-stitching the ties that bind. Southerners and northerners; cityfolk and countryfolk; women and men; black, white, brown, and beige; adults and children: What does modern art tell us about how we are pieced together?
Robert G. O’Meally is the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he has served on the faculty for twenty-two years. A scholar whose work encompasses literature, music, and visual art, Dr. O’Meally is the founder of Columbia’s Center for Jazz Studies, and Co-Curator of Exhibitions at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He is the author of The Craft of Ralph Ellison, Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday, The Jazz Singers, and Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey—the catalogue essay for an exhibition of the artist’s collages based on Homer. He was the principal writer of Seeing Jazz, the catalogue for the Smithsonian’s exhibit on jazz, painting, and literature. His edited volumes include The Jazz Cadence of American Culture, Living With Music: Ralph Ellison’s Essays on Jazz, The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, and the Barnes and Noble editions of Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and Frederick Douglass. For his co-production of a Smithsonian record set called The Jazz Singers, he was nominated for a Grammy Award. He also wrote the script for the PBS documentary Lady Day, and for the documentary accompanying the Smithsonian exhibit, Duke Ellington: Beyond Category. His articles on music, literature, and art have appeared in The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. His writing has won Ralph Gleason and ASCAP-Deems Awards. His new project is curating a major exhibition in Paris on "Black Americans in the City of Light." O’Meally is a rank-amateur saxophonist who plays, according to his sons, “only for his own amazement.”