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Announcement
October 28, 2020

Joël Díaz appointed director of Walter O. Evans Center for African American Studies

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

Joël Díaz. Courtesy Walter O. Evans Center for African American studies at SCAD Museum of Art.

SCAD proudly announces the appointment of Joël Díaz as the director of the Walter O. Evans Center for African American Studies. Established in 2011, the center’s mission is to promote wide public knowledge and appreciation of African American culture. Díaz is an experienced leader and community builder within education and the arts.

As director of the Walter O. Evans Center for African American Studies at SCAD, Díaz will work closely with students, faculty, and staff to develop programming that enhances public knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of Black art and culture. His essential guidance will enrich SCAD’s long history of engagement with renowned Black artists and cultural leaders and bring new horizons to the university’s preeminent educational experience.

“Since its founding a decade ago, the SCAD Walter O. Evans Center has shined a brilliant, prismatic light on the story of contemporary Black culture,” states SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace. “The hiring of Joël Díaz, a gifted storyteller and educator, ensures that SCAD reaches and engages more students and SCAD Museum of Art visitors than ever before. The future of the Evans Center is bright!”

In 2011, SCAD established the Walter O. Evans Center for African American Studies within the historic SCAD Museum of Art. Through the generous gift of Ruskin Society member Dr. Walter Evans and his wife Linda, the SCAD Museum of Art is home to more than 60 important works of art by renowned African American artists such as Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Robert S. Duncanson, Richard Hunt, and Jacob Lawrence. The collection forms the foundation of a multidisciplinary center for the study, understanding and appreciation of African American art and culture.

In addition to the donated historic works in the center, a permanent gallery space in SCAD Museum of Art is dedicated to exhibiting the work of contemporary African American artists. In the decade since its founding, the Evans Center and SCAD MOA have continually exhibited and celebrated Black artists, including internationally heralded exhibitions focused on the legacies of Jacob Lawrence and Frederick Douglass, as well as contemporary exhibitions by Lorraine O’Grady, Hank Willis Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, Fred Wilson, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Kenturah Davis, and many others.

“Art reveals to us the possibilities of life lived and life imagined, I am grateful to continue the work that SCAD, Dr. Evans, and Linda Evans began many years ago by celebrating, interrogating, interpreting and expanding our understanding of what has been deemed possible for Black life through the lens of African American Art and Culture,” stated Joël Díaz on his new role.

Prior to joining SCAD, Díaz has worked with many leading arts and advocacy organizations and institutions. At the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, he helped innovate curriculum in hip-hop history, created a youth programming for creative expression, and directed a vital conversation series with leading Black artists and activists. At the nonprofit New York cultural center Pioneer Works, Díaz led a diverse team of artist-educators in facilitating workshops, school visits, and exhibition-related programs, in addition to designing and implementing a youth STEAM program. More recently, Díaz led a museum education immersion program for nontraditional students and created curriculum for historical research and interpreting material culture at the Museum of the City of New York.

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