50 Black Women Over 50 presents: The Portrayal of African-American Women in Art and Media

50 Black Women Over 50 presents

The Portrayal of African-American Women in Art and Media

Please join April Miller Boise and our sponsors as we examine representations of Black women in the arts, media and popular culture. We’ll begin with a reception and docent-led tour of a curated collection of works by or about Black women, followed by a moderated panel discussion on the portrayal of black women featuring a remarkable group of accomplished women.

Friday, October 5

The Cleveland Museum of Art
Lecture Hall (lower floor)
11150 East Boulevard

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Private Viewing: Art By and About Black Women (Limited Space, Docent-Led)

4:00 – 5:45 p.m.
Reception and Panel Discussion

6:00 – 9:00 p.m. – MIX at CMA

After the discussion, you may want to stay for the season’s first MIX at CMA, where you can mingle over drinks, enjoy music and experience the museum in a whole new way.


· Traci Otey Blunt, President, Urban Movie Channel

· Jessica Bell Brown, Harlem-based Art Historian, Independent Curator and Doctoral Candidate, Modern and Contemporary Art, Princeton University

· Key Jo Lee, Assistant Director, Academic Outreach, Cleveland Museum of Art

· Sharon E. Milligan, Ph.D., Associate Dean and Associate Professor, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University

· Debra Adams Simmons, Executive Editor, Culture, National Geographic


We hope you can join us for this intimate and important discussion.

RSVP by Tuesday, October 2 to Robyn.Smyers@ThompsonHine.com.

Please feel free to park in the museum’s garage, which is accessible from Jeptha Drive at the northwest corner of the museum’s campus; parking will be validated.



Key Jo Lee is a doctoral candidate in the History of Art and African American Studies departments at Yale University. Her dissertation, entitled Melancholic Materiality: History and the Unhealable Wound in African American Photographic Portraits, 1850-­‐1877, is a study of materiality and meaning in nineteenth century African American photographic portraiture with a foray into contemporary African American artistic practice and contemporary conservation and restoration practices.

Her other interests include photo history and theory, American visual and material culture, performance studies, contemporary African American and transnational art, as well as histories of black visual humor. She has also published multiple critical essays on the work of emerging artists and has worked as a freelance curator. She has also taught extensively within traditional classrooms as well as in museum settings.

Ms. Lee has held multiple positions at the Yale University Art Gallery including as a Wurtele Gallery Teacher, as the Rose Herrick-Jackson Graduate Intern in American Painting and Sculpture and as the Robert Steele Intern to the Director.  Currently, as the Assistant Director of Academic Affairs at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Key Jo contributes to the vision and strategies for all academic programs including symposia and colloquia, internship, fellowship and student guide programs, promotes scholarly research, manages the institution’s university relationships, and oversees multiple diversity initiatives.


Traci Otey Blunt was named President of Urban Movie Channel (UMC) in February 2017. Traci joined RLJE management in November 2014, as EVP, Corporate Marketing & Corporate Affairs. She was appointed by Robert L. Johnson, RLJE Chairman and Founder of Black Entertainment Television, to develop and launch UMC, the company’s proprietary over-the-top (OTT) subscription streaming service created for African American audiences.

Traci has been recognized for her accomplishments and serves on several boards.  These include the ColorComm Circle Award (2017); PR Week’s “Champions of PR” list (2017); the Innovative Woman in Media Award from The Spectrum Circle (2016); The Washington Business Journal’s In the Spotlight (2015); Named by The Network Journal as one of America’s “Top 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business” (2014); and was awarded the Women of Legend & Merit honor by Tennessee State University (2013). She was featured in Mocha Market magazine “Women In Charge, On Fire and Changing the World: National Advisor to Presidential Contender and Business Tycoon.” Her board memberships include the International Black Film Festival of Nashville (IBFFN), ColorComm, a national organization for women of color in communications, and Capitol Hill Day School.  She is a member of the Arthur W. Paige Society, Public Relations Society of America, the National Press Club, and Washington Women in PR.


Sharon E. Milligan, Ph.D. is the President of Friends of African and African American Art at The Cleveland Museum of Art and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Student Services and Associate Professor of Social Work, Chair of the MSSA and MNO degree programs at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences (MSASS) at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

She has been collecting art since 1969.  While she was a student at Spelman College she purchased pieces for student and faculty exhibitions. Spelman has a wonderful art gallery and also owns many pieces by 20th century African and African-American artists.  In addition to her role as  the President of the Friends of African and African-American Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), she is a Museum Associate, (CMA) and was a Board Member of the Print Club, (CMA).  The Friends of African and African-American Art (FA4) travels to see exhibitions and to listen to talks around Northeast Ohio and in other part of the U.S. and the world.  In 2017, FA4 traveled to London to experience the exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power “.

In her home and office she displays collected works of many 20th Century African-American Artists. She collect artists whose work represents people, places, and symbols which have meaning for me.   Sharon loves African and African-American art and when she teaches graduate courses in health and social development in other parts of the world, she visits museums and galleries to help students  identify the visual narratives storied in these spaces.


Debra Adams Simons is the Executive Editor for Culture at National Geographic Magazine where she manages coverage of the lived experiences of people around the globe. Debra was a 2016 fellow of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and spent the past year examining the future of local news and identifying scalable journalism innovations for foundations and philanthropic organizations. Debra spent seven years as the managing editor and editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland before joining its parent company, Advance Local as a vice president. At Advance she worked to strengthen content across the company’s 30 news sites and newspapers, identified and developed talent and supported content initiatives for diverse audiences. A 30-year news veteran, Debra has extensive reporting, editing and senior news management experience. A career journalist, Debra serves as a consultant to the Knight Foundation, Ford Foundation and Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan where she has advised the foundations on how to shape a Detroit-based, multi-million dollar journalism engagement fund.  Debra work for nearly 10 years as a reporter and editor at the Detroit Free Press helped inform her work on behalf the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund. She also spent four years as the editor of the Akron Beacon Journal and worked as an editor or reporter at The Virginian-Pilot, The Hartford Courant and the Syracuse Herald-Journal.  Debra served as president of the Associated Press Media Editors, has been a member of the board of directors of the International Women’s Media Foundation and the American Society of News Editors, chaired the board of Athena International. Debra graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and its College of Arts & Sciences, where she serves on the board of visitors. Debra has a robust civic life. She has served on several boards including the City Club of Cleveland, Ideastream, Business Volunteers Unlimited: The Center for Non-Profit Excellence, In Counsel with Women, Hawken School, Akron Art Museum and the Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop.


Jessica Bell Brown is a writer, curator, and art historian based in Harlem. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Modern and Contemporary Art in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. Her research explores the relationship between form, black radicalism, and abstraction in 20th-century African-American art. She is a Teach for America alumna, and before pursuit of graduate study at Princeton, had worked in programming capacities at Creative Time and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Bell Brown curated the 2012 exhibition loop, the first survey of new media and video works of art at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, N.Y. In 2016, Bell Brown co-curated with Kelly Baum Collecting Contemporary, 1960–2015: Selections from the Schorr Collection at the Princeton University Art Museum. Bell Brown is a co-founder of Black Art Incubator (2016), a six week social and cultural programming project, held at Recess, which aimed to facilitate deeply engaging connections between artists, art administrators, curators and writers based in New York. In 2016-2017, Bell Brown was the Mellon Museum Research Consortium Fellow in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, where she worked under the curatorial leadership of Leah Dickerman for Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends (2017). There she spearheaded the production of digital creative projects as well as a documentary series exploring the contemporary impact of Rauschenberg with artists of the present moment, including Glenn Ligon, Sarah Sze, David Lang, Brice Marden, and Charles Atlas. As a writer and critic, she has penned critical essays on contemporary artists Senga Nengudi, Eric Mack, Sam Gilliam, Jennifer Packer, Kerry James Marshall, Charles Ray and Wilmer Wilson, among many others. Her writing and art criticism has appeared in catalogues and publications for The Studio Museum in Harlem, Lévy Gorvy, The Museum of Modern Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, Flash Art, Hyperallergic, and The Brooklyn Rail. She received her B.A. in Art History at Northwestern University (2009) and her M.A. in Art History (2016) from Princeton.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt