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Kimberly Cleveland

Art History    

Ph.D. African Art History, University of Iowa, 2007
M.A. Modern Latin American Art History, University of New Mexico, 2002


Contemporary African Art
Afro-Brazilian Art
African Art


Dr. Kimberly Cleveland joined the Art History faculty of the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design in 2008.  She is interested in exploring questions of race, ethnicity, and identity in relation to artistic production in both her classes and research.  At GSU, she teaches courses on African art (Contemporary African Art; African Art) and, to a lesser degree, African American art, at the undergraduate/graduate levels.  At the undergraduate level, she also offers the department’s survey of Non-Western Art (Art of Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas).  Her graduate-level Art History seminars (African Body Arts; African Photography – 1950s to the Present; Reading African Art: Alternative Literatures; Primitivism in African, African American, and Latin American Art) reflect Dr. Cleveland’s modern and contemporary focus, as well as her background in African and Latin American Art History.

Dr. Cleveland’s research primarily focuses on Afro-Brazilian art. In her book, Black Art in Brazil: Expressions of Identity (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2013), she analyzes how certain modern and contemporary Brazilian artists visually convey “blackness.”  Through the work of Brazilian artists from different parts of the country who utilize a wide range of media, including photography, sculpture, and installation art, she investigates how each artist articulates “blackness” through his or her unique visual vocabulary and points out the ways it reflects their lived experiences.  Additionally, Cleveland has published several articles and book chapters on Afro-Brazilian art.

Cleveland is also interested in curatorial work and exhibitions of African and Afro-Brazilian art. She curated the exhibition, “Sleeping with the Leopard: African Art from Cameroon,” held at the Figge Art Museum, Davenport IA in 2009.  She was also the co-curator of the exhibitions, “Nnenna Okore: Fibers of Being” and “African Textiles: The Nexus of Material, Method and Meaning,” held at the Welch School of Art & Design Galleries in 2014.  She has published two chapters on the AfroBrazil Museum, Brazil’s largest institution dedicated to Afro-Brazilian art, history, and culture, as well as an exhibition catalog essay for Kehinde Wiley the World Stage: Brazil.

Her current book project explores artistic renderings of black wet nurses produced in Brazil.



Black Art in Brazil: Expressions of Identity. (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2013).

Exhibition Catalog Essays
“Candomblé as Artistic Inspiration: Syncretic Approaches.” In Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis, 204-219, 273. Edited by Patrick A. Polk, Randal Johnson, Sabrina Gledhill, and Roberto Conduru. Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 2017.

“Ụkwa Ruo Oge Ya Ọ Daa (There’s a time for everything).” In Nnenna Okore: Ụkwa Ruo Oge Ya Ọ Daa (There’s a time for everything), 3-10. London: October Gallery, 2017.

2009. “Kehinde Wiley’s Brazil: The Past against the Future,” in Kehinde Wiley The World Stage: Brazil (Culver City, C.A.: Roberts & Tilton; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Museu de Arte Moderna): 23-30.

Articles and Book Chapters

“Coming and Going: Movement of Folk Art from Brazil’s Backlands.” Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas 49(1/2): 65-71.

“Sacred/Secular Nexus: Afro-Brazilian Religion in the Afro-Brazilian Art of Mestre Didi and Ronaldo Rego.” Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture 9(2): 91-106.

“Afro-Brazilian Art as a Prism: A Socio-Political History of Brazil’s Artistic, Diplomatic and Economic Confluences in the Twentieth Century.” Luso-Brazilian Review 49(2): 102-119.

“Appropriation and the Body: Representation in Contemporary Black Brazilian Art.” Journal of Black Studies 41(2): 301-319.

2015. “Preserving African Art, History, and Memory: The AfroBrazil Museum,” in A. L. Araujo (ed.), African Heritage and Memory of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic World (Amherst, NY: Cambria Press): 285-311.

2015. “Abdias Nascimento: Painting Connections across the Diaspora,” in K. Radcliffe, J. Scott, and A. Werner (eds.), Anywhere But Here: Black Intellectuals – The Atlantic World and Beyond (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi): 167-186.

2014. “Not Your Mother’s Milk: Imagining the Wet Nurse in Brazil,” in H. Owen and A.M. Klobucka (eds.), Gender, Empire, and Postcolony: Luso-Afro-Brazilian Intersections (New York: Palgrave Macmillan): 127-140.

2012. “The Art of Memory: São Paulo’s AfroBrazil Museum,” in A.L. Araujo (ed.), Politics of Memory: Making Slavery Visible in the Public Space (New York: Routledge): 197-212.