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Senior Fellowship 2021
Geis and Diawara’s project explores the work of artist and poet Ted Joans (1928 – 2003), tracing his significance as a conduit between multiple modernist movements in the United States and throughout the world, including postwar Surrealism, the Beat Generation, and the Black Arts Movement. Surrealism was especially important to Joans; as he wrote in a letter to André Breton: “Qui suis-je? … I am an Afro-American and my name is Ted Joans … Without surrealism I would have been incapable of surviving the abject vicissitudes and racial violence which the white man in America imposed upon me every day. Surrealism became the weapon I used to defend myself.” Cutting, Folding, Connecting examines Joans’s process of adapting the visual art techniques of the exquisite corpse and collage to language, and explores how these techniques provided him with a means for expressing defiance, anti-racism, and anti-colonialism, as well as collaborative celebration.
Terri Geis is an independent art historian whose work focuses on women artists affiliated with Surrealism and on the intersections between Surrealism and the Americas. She has written on the movement’s connections in Mexico and with Afro-Caribbean art and culture.