American Folk Art Museum Logo

Symposia & Lectures
31 Jan 2021

2021 Anne Hill Blanchard Uncommon Artists Lecture

Join us online for the 2021 Anne Hill Blanchard Uncommon Artists Lecture.

Talks will explore new research on self-taught art, drawing on themes of metamorphosis and transformation in the museum exhibition PHOTO | BRUT: Collection Bruno Decharme & CompagnieThis exhibition will be on view from January 24 through June 6, 2021.

Speakers include Elaine Y. Yau on personal and material transformation in the work of Rosie Lee Tompkins, Erin O’Toole on April Dawn Alison’s photography, and Nicole R. Fleetwood on carceral aesthetics and prison portrait practices.

The Anne Hill Blanchard Uncommon Artists Lecture Series highlights new and important contributions to the field of folk and self-taught art. The annual series honors the late Anne Hill Blanchard, an inspiring and passionate leader in the field and a devoted supporter of the American Folk Art Museum. For the first time, the Anne Hill Blanchard Uncommon Artists Lecture will be held online via Zoom.

Space is limited; advance registration is required. Please consider making a donation when you register to support ongoing virtual programming.

After registering for the program, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions and the Zoom link for joining the program via computer or mobile device at the end of the email under “Additional Information.” Closed captioning will be provided. Questions? Please email

Sunday, January 31, 2021, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET


1:00 p.m. ET Welcome & Opening Remarks

1:12 p.m. ET Nicole R. Fleetwood: The Practice and Legacy of Prison Portraits

1:42 p.m. ET Erin O’Toole: April Dawn Alison, photographer

2:12 p.m. ET Elaine Y. Yau: Rosie Lee Tompkins and Protective Self-Fashioning

Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood is a writer, curator, and Professor of American Studies and Art History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is the author of Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (Harvard University Press, 2020), On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination (Rutgers University Press, 2015), and Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness (University of Chicago Press, 2011). Fleetwood has curated exhibitions and events on art and mass incarceration at MoMA PS1, Andrew Freedman Home, Aperture, Cleveland Public Library, Zimmerli Art Museum, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, and the Urban Justice Center.

Dr. Erin O’Toole is the Baker Street Foundation Associate Curator of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), where she has worked since 2007. Recent exhibitions she has organized include Off the Wall: Liz Deschenes, Oliver Chanarin, Sarah Sze, Dayanita Singh and Lieko Shiga (2020), Thought Pieces: 1970s Photographs of Lew Thomas, Donna-Lee Phillips and Hal Fischer (2020); April Dawn Alison (2019); New Work: Erin Shirreff (2019); and Anthony Hernandez (2016). She is editor of Thought Pieces: 1970s Photographs of Lew Thomas, Donna-Lee Phillips and Hal Fischer (MACK Books, 2020), April Dawn Alison (MACK Books, 2019), and Anthony Hernandez (SFMOMA, 2016), as well as a contributing author of The Photographic Object, 1970 (UC Press, 2016), Janet Delaney: South of Market (MACK Books, 2013), Garry Winogrand (SFMOMA, 2013), Doug Rickard: A New American Picture (Walter Koenig Books, Cologne, 2012), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: 75 Years of Looking Forward (SFMOMA, 2010), among other titles.

Dr. Elaine Y. Yau is Associate Curator of the Eli Leon Living Trust Collection of African American Quilts at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). Prior to this position, she co-curated Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective with former director and Chief Curator, Larry Rinder. In addition to writing essays on artists Sister Gertrude Morgan and Minnie Evans, her contribution to the Routledge Companion to African American Art History (2020) examined the critical impact of race on folk art scholarship. Dr. Yau earned her doctoral degree at UC Berkeley in History of Art with an emphasis in Folklore in 2015.

Images: Rosie Lee Tompkins, Three Sixes (detail), 1996, quilted by Irene Bankhead, 1996, polyester double knit, linen-weave cotton or polyester, cotton, rayon, and cotton muslin backing, 96 x 96”, Photography by Ben Blackwell; April Dawn Alison, Untitled, n.d., collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of Andrew Masullo; Russell Craig, Self Portrait, 2016, pastel and paper on canvas, 10 x 8’, courtesy of Russell Craig, Photography by Kisha Bari, provided by the Soze Agency.

1:00 pm–3:00 pm

Online; free with registration