Polly Roberts, professor of world arts and cultures/dance at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), will deliver a lecture on the display of sacred objects in a museum context on Thursday, April 17, at 4:15 p.m., in the Overlook of the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art. Her lecture is a part of a series titled “Exhibiting the Sacred” and is free and open to the public.
Roberts, who is consulting curator for African Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), received her Ph.D. in art history from Columbia University. Her studies focus on the philosophical underpinnings of particular African visual arts and expressive culture, such as secrecy, memory, writing and inscription, and the translation of cultural experience into museum exhibitions. From 1999 – 2008, she served as deputy director and chief curator at the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Roberts has been a Getty Fellow, is an editor of the journal African Arts and was decorated as a Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters by France for her promotion of francophone African Arts.
Her previous exhibitions and publications include: Secrecy: African Art that Conceals and Reveals (1993); Exhibition-ism: Museums and African Art with S. Vogel (1994); and with Allen F. Roberts, Memory: Luba Art and the Making of History (1996); A Saint in the City: Sufi Arts of Urban Senegal (2003); and Luba: Visions of Africa (2007). Recently, as consulting curator at LACMA, Roberts assisted the museum in launching a dedicated gallery for the arts of Africa, and in July 2013, the gallery was inaugurated with an exhibition that she curated titled Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from the Royal Museum for Central Africa.
The lecture is cosponsored by the Common Reading Experience and Hamilton’s art, art history and religious studies departments.