Arthur M. Berger Lecture Series Returns with Talk by Manhattanville Professor on his MoMA Exhibit and his Career as an Artist
PURCHASE, NY - A beloved lecture series at Manhattanville College returned in person after two years with a talk by Manhattanville Professor Randy Williams on his experience as part of the groundbreaking gallery, “Just Above Midtown” (JAM) in the 1970s and 1980s, and a new Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) exhibit called “Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces” that highlights the gallery, his work, and that of other artists of color.
More than 120 guests, including Manhattanville students and community members filled the West Room in Reid Castle for the return of the Arthur M. Berger Lecture Series. Williams, a professor of Studio Art at Manhattanville, recounted his involvement with JAM and more recently the MoMA exhibit. JAM was an art gallery and space that welcomed Black artists and visitors of many generations and races in New York City from 1974 until 1986. The exhibit, on display through February 18, has received widespread acclaim including in a feature article in “The New Yorker.”
According to MoMA, the exhibit presents archival photos, videos, and other contextual historical material to give visitors a sense of the collaborative ethos that defined the art gallery and the alternative model of art it championed to respond to a society in need. In addition to the exhibition, the project includes performances, film screenings, public programs, and an exhibition catalogue, co-published with The Studio Museum in Harlem.
Shortly after taking the podium to tell the stories behind his extensive body of socially and politically focused work, Professor Williams discussed his role as artist and educator. “Of all the art that I do, teaching is my most significant art form,” he said while turning towards the students in the audience.
The dedication Williams shows to his work serves as inspiration to his students and colleagues. “I made a promise – no matter what happens, I am going to make a work of art every day,” he said. “It is so important for artists to make something because it’s an extension and evidence of life. It’s evidence of self.”
The Berger lecture series has been sponsored by the Department of Art History/Art History and Museum Studies program since 1982, thanks to the funding provided by the Arthur M. Berger endowed fund. The lecture has been held annually (with very limited exceptions, the most recent being Covid) for the past 40 years. This was the first in-person event since the pandemic.
“We were so delighted to be able to resume the tradition this year, and to have as our guest speaker our very own Randy Williams,” said Lisa Rafanelli, Ph.D., professor of Art History and Museum Studies and chair of the Division of Historical, Philosophical, and Political Sciences at Manhattanville.
A reception followed the lecture, and there was a showing of works hand-selected by the artist.
The donor’s daughter, Joyce Cowin Berger, attended.
About Manhattanville College
Manhattanville College is a small, private liberal arts institution dedicated to academic excellence, purposeful education, and social justice. Located 30 miles from New York City on a 100-acre suburban campus in the heart of bustling Westchester County, Manhattanville enables easy access to robust entertainment offerings, educational resources, and business opportunities for its primarily residential and diverse student body. The College serves more than 1,500 undergraduate students and nearly 1,000 graduate students from more than 44 countries and 33 states. Founded in 1841, the College offers more than 75 undergraduate and graduate areas of study in the arts and sciences, education, business, and creative writing, as well as continuing and executive education programs. Graduate students can choose from over 70 graduate and certificate programs. Extracurricular offerings include more than 45 clubs and 20 NCAA Division III teams. To learn more, visit www.mville.edu.
Cara Cea, firstname.lastname@example.org, 914-323-1278 or 914-906-9680.
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