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A close up of Freida High Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis.

Sam Gilliam: Abstraction and Innovation Beyond the Color Field and the Color Line

February 10, 2024

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

227 State Street Madison, WI, 53703


The lecture, Sam Gilliam: Abstraction and Innovation Beyond the Color Field and the Color Line, was originally scheduled for January 27 and was canceled due to illness. The lecture will be rescheduled for Saturday, February 10.

In place of the presentation on January 27, the artists Floyd Newsum, Faisal Abdu Allah, and Paula Panczenko had a conversation about Sam Gilliam.


Free Admission • MMoCA Lecture Hall

Scholar and artist Dr. Freida High Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis will explore how select Black artists from the American South turned towards abstraction in the post-World War II era, centering on Sam Gilliam’s work and artistic processes, and incorporating other artists, including Mel Edwards and Floyd Newsum (recently on view at MMoCA).  Dr. High’s talk will explore the ways in which artists are and were true to themselves in abstraction and figurative compositions amid cultural and social issues and debates.

Freida High Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis, MA, MFA, PhD, is a painter, printmaker, art historian, curator, Emerita Professor of African and African American Art History and Visual Culture, Departments of Afro-American Studies, Gender & Women’s Studies, and Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her expertise is on African American, African, and feminist art history/criticism. Among her many accolades, she has recently been awarded the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award as Artist and Scholar, Porter Colloquium, Howard University, and a 2022 Wisconsin Visual Art Legacy/Lifetime Achievement Award by the Museum of Wisconsin Art, Wisconsin Visual Artists, and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters.