Steven Dubin: A Busy Summer of Arts ☆

Some people make regular trips to New York City every year. Others go camping or to popular tourist locations. Steven Dubin, Professor of Arts Administration, makes annual trips to South Africa, where he spent ten weeks this past summer. Steven had a busy and exciting trip, although it began with the wrong kind of excitement: he was the victim of a scam and also a mugging during his first week.

One of the reasons Steven visited South Africa was to launch his most recently published book, Mounting Queen Victoria: Curating Cultural Change. At the Boekehuis, an independent bookshop in Johannesburg, he participated in a panel discussion as part of the launch event. He was also a guest on a television weekend morning show and gave a lecture at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research.

While in South Africa, Steven also visited Ardmore Ceramic Art, an arts community, having worked with them for two years. Ardmore Ceramic Art invited Steven to edit the catalog for an upcoming 2012 Ardmore exhibition at Manhattan’s Museum for African Art, which will be moving into its new location in the northeast corner of Central Park in 2010. This will be the first U.S. appearance for the show, entitled Ardmore Positive, which focuses on artists’ representations of AIDS. Although HIV/AIDS is epidemic throughout South Africa and affects people in all walks of life, the artists were slow to acknowledge this scourge in their work. They began to do so by first substituting monkeys for human representations in their art, and only gradually shifted to using people and calling the disease by its name. The catalog accompanying the exhibition will consist of a series of essays on the history of Ardmore as well as the representation of AIDS through art.

Steven also wrote an article this summer about another HIV/AIDS-related art show for Art in America regarding the exhibition Not Alone: An International Project of Make Art/Stop AIDS, which originated at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles and is currently touring South Africa. This exhibit features photographs, installations, sculptures, and other art forms from the United States, India, Brazil, and South Africa.

Ndebele Paintings Esther Mahlangu, Ndebele Woman Esther Mahlangu Painting

Finally, Steven spent time with a group of Ndebele women, talented self-trained artists who received a grant to paint a mural on a children’s science museum. The Ndebele have a very distinctive painting style, featuring bright colors, intricate patterns, and geometric designs. The work is so measured and precise that Steven says their art has been used to help teach children math.

All in all, it was quite a busy summer for Steven, who is now safely back in New York – until, most probably, next summer.