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Art Historian’s Book Receives Premier Prize

Work focuses on the practices and priorities in Caribbean and American photography

  • Award honors an especially distinguished book in the history of art published in English
  • Thompson’s focus is modern and contemporary art and visual culture related to the African diaspora
  • She argues that performing for the camera is more important than the final image itself

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The College Art Association (CAA) has selected Northwestern University’s Krista Thompson’s book “Shine: The Visual Economy of Light in African Diasporic Aesthetic Practice” as the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award -- a major prize in the field of art history.

Thompson is the Weinberg College Board of Advisors Chair and an art history professor in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciencesdepartment of art history. She researches and teaches modern and contemporary art and visual culture related to the African diaspora, with an emphasis on photography. 

The Charles Rufus Morey Book Award honors an especially distinguished book in the history of art published in English. Established in 1953, the award is named in honor of one of the founding members of CAA and first teachers of art history in the United States. 

In “Shine,” Thompson examines photographic practices in the Caribbean and United States. She argues that performing for the camera is more important than the final image itself. For the members of these African diasporic communities, seeking out the camera's light -- whether from a cell phone, Polaroid, or video camera -- provides a means with which to represent themselves in the public sphere. The resulting images, Thompson argues, become their own forms of memory, modernity, value and social status that allow for cultural formation within and between African diasporic communities. 

The CAA will formally recognize the honorees at a special awards ceremony to be held during convocation at the 104th annual conference in Washington, D.C., 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3. The CAA is the professional society for scholars in the history and criticism of the visual arts and for teachers and practitioners of art in American universities.

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