The Atlanta University Center

A Nucleus of Visual Art

Authored by: Andrea Barnwell Brownlee

The Routledge Companion to African American Art History

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138486553
eBook ISBN: 9781351045193
Adobe ISBN:


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In 2007 Amalia K. Amaki, PhD, who was then the professor of black American studies and curator of the Paul R. Jones Collection at the University of Delaware, and I curated Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, and the Academy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the art program in the Atlanta University Center (AUC). This exhibition and the accompanying catalogue examined how the pioneering efforts of artists Hale Woodruff and Nancy Elizabeth Prophet beginning in the 1930s cemented the AUC as a central and enduring hub for young and emerging African American artists. This essay revisits that project and positions the AUC in general as a leading and forward-thinking nucleus, which consistently anticipates the needs of the field and leads meaningful initiatives that benefit African American students and aspiring artists and arts professionals alike. By focusing on Spelman College’s persistent practice and the key role it played in shepherding the Coordinated Art program and also outlining Spelman College’s current project to establish the Atlanta University Center Collective for the Study of Art History & Curatorial Studies, this essay examines how the AUC has been a relentless leader.

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