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March 10, 2020

Washington, D.C.'s National Gallery of Art Appoints New Dean of Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, has named Steven Nelson the next dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). Nelson currently serves as the Andrew W. Mellon Professor at CASVA and as a professor of African and African American art history and the director of the African Studies Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. Nelson will become the center’s third dean since its founding in 1979 and will succeed Elizabeth Cropper, who will retire in May.

“Steven’s teaching legacy and international scholarly reputation in the field of art history, combined with his remarkable ability to provide support for a wide-ranging community of scholars makes him the perfect fit,” said Kaywin Feldman, director of the National Gallery. “This position requires collaboration and intellectual leadership on an international level as well as cultivating a new and diverse generation of art historians, curators, and scholars, and Steven does that beautifully.”

As CASVA’s Andrew W. Mellon Professor, Nelson has completed two new manuscripts: “Structural Adjustment: Mapping, Geography, and the Visual Cultures of Blackness” and “On the Underground Railroad.” As part of CASVA’s initiative on African American art, he is coediting a scholarly volume titled The Black Modernisms Seminars, which will be released in 2021. He also serves as the presenter of the inaugural Richard D. Cohen Lectures on African and African American Art at Harvard University.

Previously, Nelson has held visiting appointments at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, served as president of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association, worked as reviews editor for Art Journal and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, and was a member of the advisory board for CASVA (2013–17).

Commenting on his new role, Nelson said: “I look forward to facilitating the rigorous scholarship that has been a hallmark at CASVA while aiding the advancement of the gallery’s vision for a more inclusive definition of its collections and stronger connections with communities in Washington and beyond.” Nelson will begin his tenure in July.

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