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Photo by Nivia Hernandez
Photo by Nivia Hernandez

The Dedalus Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for 2023 – 2024 has been awarded to Angela H. Brown, a PhD candidate at Princeton University, for her dissertation Texture of the Weave: Techniques for Ch’ixi Modernity in the Americas. The award carries a stipend of $25,000.

Brown’s dissertation takes a material approach to the interrelated concepts of modernity, coloniality, and indigeneity through weaving practices in Puerto Rico and Mexico between 1930 and 1960. She argues that hand-weaving has functioned as a vehicle for the continuity and dissemination of a range of Indigenous strategies of relation threatened by coloniality even as it was simultaneously a means through which Euroamerican modernists—including the German architect Henry Klumb, Bauhaus weavers Lena Bergner and Anni Albers, and Albers’ students—defined themselves against and alongside the category of the “non-modern.” In her case studies, anchored in Puerto Rico, Mexico City, and Oaxaca, but expanding internationally to include sites such as Black Mountain College and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Brown prioritizes specific encounters between Amerindian weavers and Euroamerican artists in order to show that weaving practices in Latin America and the Caribbean, as they entered hegemonic institutional settings—museums, state education programs, even department stores—fundamentally transformed art pedagogy and reoriented bodily techniques among artists and consumers.

In her research, which considers archival documents, pedagogical records, and magazine advertisements alongside oral histories by present-day weavers, Brown aims to show that hand-weaving by Amerindian, campesino, and jíbaro (rural Puerto Rican) artists was not merely appropriated by Euroamerican artists at midcentury, but also functioned as a Trojan horse within modernity, transforming it from the inside. This transformation produces what the Bolivian/Aymara theorist Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui has called a ch’ixi modernity: a modernity that foregrounds its inextricability from coloniality and indigeneity, undermining the colonial tendency to study difference along binary axes and challenging the habit among colonizing agents to define modernity in opposition to the lives and work of colonized communities.

Angela H. Brown received a B.A. in Art History from Vassar College. She has worked as a writer and editor for art galleries, magazines, and independent publishers in New York, and has served as a Joan Tisch Teaching Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Brown’s writing has appeared in the Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy, small axe salon, and e-flux architecture.