The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University has hired Allison Martino as the Raymond and Laura Wielgus Curator of the Art of Africa, Oceania, and Indigenous Art of the Americas. Allison earned her PhD in the History of Art at the University of Michigan, MA in the History of Art at Indiana University, and BA in Studio Art at Denison University. Her curatorial work, research, and teaching focus on the arts and visual cultures of Africa and the African diaspora. She is currently a 2019–2020 Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA) in Brunswick, Maine. In this role, she supports curatorial projects, exhibitions, programming, and educational initiatives for faculty and student involvement with the museum. Martino will begin her position at the Eskenazi Museum of Art on August 1.
Prior to joining the BCMA, Martino served as 2018–2019 Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Africana Studies at Bowdoin College, teaching courses on African art and culture, visual culture, and textiles. Martino has also taught courses on African art and visual culture at the University of Michigan and on global textiles and fashions at Arizona State University. She co-curated Fashioning Modernity: Art and Independence among Yorùbás in Nigeria at the BCMA in 2019 and curated Unrecorded: Reimagining Artist Identities in Africa (2018) at the University of Michigan Museum of Art and Youth and Dancing and Joy: Photographs by Malick Sidibé (2010) at the Eskenazi Museum of Art.
Martino’s research focuses on textiles and clothing in Ghana, as well as photography and contemporary art in Africa. Her current project traces the cultural evolution of adinkra cloth from its use in the early nineteenth century as royal dress among Akans of Ghana to its expanding role today as a global icon of African identity. Fellowships and grants from Fulbright-Hays, American Council of Learned Societies, and the University of Michigan have supported her research on this project in Ghana, England, and the Netherlands.
A major highlight of the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s wide-ranging holdings are it collections of approximately 4,400 works of art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas (North and Central America, the Caribbean, and Latin America). Thanks in large part to the late Chicago-based collectors Raymond and Laura Wielgus, the museum possesses one of the most significant collections in this area of any American university art museum. IU is also home to Mathers Museum of World Cultures, which houses a collection of related objects; a nationally recognized, leading African Studies Program; and a Foreign Language Studies Program that teaches more languages than any other school in America. These resources complement the museum’s rich collection of arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. The search committee for this curatorial position included IU Associate Professor and Art History Tanner-Opperman Chair Bárbaro Martíno-Ruiz and IU Associate Professor of Art History Margaret Graves.
Upon news of her hire, Martino commented, “I’m delighted to join the Eskenazi Museum of Art and to work with colleagues on dynamic projects with the museum’s collection of artworks from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. This position is particularly meaningful to me as I earned my master's degree in art history at Indiana University and first became involved with the museum during my graduate studies. I am excited to return to Bloomington, and look forward to supporting educational initiatives and collaborating with faculty and students across the campus community.”
David A. Brenneman, Wilma E. Kelley Director of the Eskenazi Museum of Art, said, “We are excited to welcome Allison to the museum’s curatorial team. The museum’s collection of Arts of African, Oceania, and the Americas is one of the best in the country, and Allison’s familiarity with these works will help us draw attention to this important aspect of our holdings.”
About the IU Eskenazi Museum of Art
Since its establishment in 1941, the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art has grown from a small university teaching collection into one of the most significant university art collections in the United States. A preeminent teaching museum on the Indiana University campus, its internationally acclaimed collection, ranging from ancient gold jewelry and African and Oceanic works to paintings by modern masters such as Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock, includes more than 45,000 objects representing nearly every art-producing culture throughout history.
In 2019, the Eskenazi Museum of Art completed a $30 million renovation of its acclaimed I. M. Pei–designed building. The newly renovated museum is an enhanced teaching resource for Indiana University and southern Indiana. The museum is dedicated to engaging students, faculty, artists, scholars, alumni, and the wider public through the cultivation of new ideas and scholarship.
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