Please join us at our CAA 2024 panel, The Black Commonwealth at 112th Annual College Art Conference!

Friday, February 16, 2024

Time: 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM CDT

Location: In-Person at the Hilton Chicago (720 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL)

Room: Salon C-1

Smithsonian Lunchbag Seminar (Virtual): "Origins of an Abject Proposition: Harriet Cany Peale's Her Mistress' Clothes"

On March 15, 2024, I am speaking on the subject of a disturbing 19th century oil on canvas painting titled "Her Mistress' Clothes," by Philadelphia-based painter Harriet Cany Peale. 


"Her Mistress’ Clothes, an antebellum oil painting by Philadelphia-based artist Harriet Cany Peale, is an ostensibly undisguised image of degradation and supremacy. Peale’s depiction of two contrasting figures, one European and one African, presents an ideological binary that has been wielded throughout the nineteenth century to justify the ongoing subjugation of the enslaved and freepersons. To date, the painting is commonly understood as representing the menacing domination of a European woman who ventriloquizes an enslaved girl into an imperfect imitation of Eurocentric womanhood, yet the Americentrism of this interpretation obfuscates transatlantic stakeholders and the cultural work of this image. Cany Peale’s painting is derived from French miniaturist Louis Marie Sicard’s 1803 oil painting, “Ah! Le Joli Minois!”, which was engraved that same year by André Joseph Mécou. Transferred onto plates and more, the image held value throughout western Europe and the United States. By engaging the formal differences between paintings by Peale and Sicard, and Mecou’s print, I will highlight critically overlooked transatlantic contexts in which antiblackness developed visually. Comparative study of this curiously unstable image compels broader contexts, which I argue directly impacts how this image operates to discipline the gaze and normalize western systems of race and gender. By addressing how both figures are monstrosities of a masculinist gaze, I expand upon the image’s enmeshed status with shared racist languages of domination."

Talk @ the Getty Research Institute: "Learning and Reading from Benjamin Patterson" (December 4, 2023)

Postdoctoral Fellow, African American Art History Initiative

In 1964, Benjamin Patterson (1934-2016) inaugurated one of two unofficial artist statements with a blunt remark, writing “I confess, my works do not ‘say’ anything.” On the one hand, Patterson strategically impeded presumptions about the politicizing and moralizing dimensions of his work and its relationship to public affairs. On the other hand, Patterson’s subsequent elaboration of his conceptual parameters staked a clear claim towards the social and cultural value of art, which included several provocative assertions such as art’s eventual demise. To Patterson, who viewed himself as an educator rather than an artist, art provided an aesthetic and social apparatus for catalyzing new perceptual encounters integral to individual development and society. His view of his practice as a “workshop” warrants closer attention as it clarifies the prevalence of words and writing during his early period (1960-1965), which was deeply impacted by his engagement with experimental music, Fluxus, and happenings, of the 1960s. One must read Patterson to grasp the aesthetic dimensions of his practice more fully. My attention to Patterson’s interests in education will clarify how he grew to emphasize art as a pedagogically cerebral exercise–with and without didactic supports–and engage how his destabilization of material encouraged slippage between his art and its archive.

Call for Papers: The Black Commonwealth at 112th Annual College Art Conference

Investigations of place have prompted radical reconsiderations of social and artistic geographies of visual culture. It absorbs and reflects psychosocial views and cultural relationships between communities and sites. Place is discursive across the disciplines: Tim Creswell, an anthropogeographer, situates place as a "meaningful category,” whereas Lucy Lippard, a feminist curator, describes it as "the locus of desire,” and artist Renée Green discursively engages notions of place and site-specificity in “Peripatetic at ‘Home’.”

With the objective to contribute to increasing microhistories–local, transnational, and global–reframing art historical inquiry, this panel will convene around Pennsylvania and its role within Black art production. A colony, the second state to join the Union, and a commonwealth implicated by the myths of the nation, Pennsylvania is a microcosm of the United States. How does it shape histories of artists from Henry Ossawa Tanner and Meta Warrick Vaux Fuller to Raymond Saunders, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Benjamin Patterson, and more, from the past to now? 

We invite submissions related to Pennyslvania's role in the profiles, practices, networks, institutions, and histories, of artists of African descent from the 19th to 21st centuries. Graduate students, adjunct, tenure-track and tenured professors, curators and arts cultural workers are encouraged to present.

Potential topics include (but are not limited to):

* Placemaking

* Politics of Identity and Blackness

* Gender Politics

* Respectability Politics and Whiteness Studies

* Andrew Carnegie and Institutions

* Labor Histories and Art

* Philadelphia, Pittsburgh

* Deindustrialization

* Archives and Documentary Histories

* Museums, Galleries and Race

Field(s) of Study:
Geographic Area: United States of America 
Geographic Area: North America 
Time Period: Modern (1800-present) 
Time Period: Twentieth Century 
Time Period: Twenty-First Century 

Chairs: julia Elizabeth Neal, University of Michigan and Janell B. Pryor

Submission Details (due August 31, 2023):

I'm speaking about Patterson's Lick Piece performance, fraught with sexual and racial politics, at Museum Ostwall's digital symposium. Free to attend! Link.

CCA's Jamie Straw's Take on my lecture

"Jamie Straw (she/they) is a comics creator based out of northeastern Pennsylvania. They are a second year graduate student in CCA's MFA in Comics program. Her work is wide-ranging, but often focuses on the environment and social issues." (CCA)

Straw visualized my lecture in the format of a zine, and her drawings and synthesis deserve your attention. Check out the zine here


Thu, Mar 2 2023, 5PM - 6:30PM (Zoom link here)

Part of event series: VISUAL & CRITICAL STUDIES FORUM | 2022/2023 SERIES


CCA Graduate Visual & Critical Studies


Between 1988 to 1992, Benjamin Patterson lived between two nations–the United States and Germany–in anticipation of developing his international, globetrotting art career. In addition, these years demarcate Patterson’s gradual re-commitment to performance art and expressions of Fluxus at the turn of the century. His peripatetic, bi-continental lifestyle was as much a direct function of asserting hypervisibility in response to historical erasure as it was a refusal of the precarity facing most artists stateside. Patterson’s pursuit of international audiences and communities actively engenders multinational and spatiosocial relationships that require observers and scholars to deconstruct implicit and explicit nationalist biases. This talk will consider three cases in which the artist’s movement calls for a language and interpretive framework beyond the rhetoric of escape. I highlight how Patterson’s claim to multiple centers connects to an ideological act of self-possession. By emphasizing the usability of transnational scholarship to recover his history, I will also explore the necessity for addressing scholarly positionality to place and its impact on his work, identity, and the site specificity of archives.

Recent Scholarship in Contemporary Art History Online Reading Group

The Society of Contemporary Art Historians (website) is hosting the first of its sponsored reading group sessions, which aims to cultivate collegiality among its membership base through informal discussions about recent contributions to contemporary art history. This September 28, 3PM EST, Dr. julia elizabeth neal will host  a session on responses in October journal, and please find the readings below.

This is a perfect opportunity to join SCAH, which is a great platform for nurturing the scholarship of its members. To become a member, visit

Readings: George Baker, David Joselit; A Questionnaire on Global Methods. October, 2022; (180): 3–80. Responses by Iftikhar Dadi (18-21), Jaś Elsner (25-28), Gao Minglu (34-43), Jonathan Hay (50-56), Joan Kee (68-72), Anneka Lenssen (73-77). [Readings available upon registration] 

Simone Leigh: Art & Theory (Fall 2021) Seminar at Spelman College 

As 2021 comes to a close and we reflect on the throes of this formidable year, leading the fall '21 seminar "Simone Leigh: Art & Theory" is became an everlasting memory. What a generative class for impressive undergraduate students–it leads me to believe the productive and catalytic nature of dialogic learning (seminars) should be a space undergraduate students encounter before graduate school. 

This yearlong seminar is in collaboration with the ICA Boston, organizers of the historic US Pavilion that will feature Leigh at the Venice Biennale next year: Read Announcement Here.

August 2021

"The Estate of Benjamin Patterson recently published Performance Works within the Estate of Benjamin Patterson: A Catalogue Raisonné, Volume One,  written by julia elizabeth neal and translated into German by Dr. Barbro Patterson. It is the first medium-specific volume to date. Volume 1 inventories the breadth of items collected by the artist over time, including documentary materials from his practice and professional engagements. All material within this text is sourced directly from Patterson's personal archive and from posthumous donations by museums, curators, gallerists, writers, photographers, performances, and educators–each contribution aiding with the goal to comprehensively account for Patterson's legacy. Assistants and aids began to organize and systematize Patterson's personal archive in the twenty-first century for personal safekeeping and in anticipation for his landmark retrospective exhibition in 2010 in Houston, Texas. Subsequently, itemizing, organizing, locating and preserving archival materials continues via Dr. Barbro Patterson, administrator of the Estate of Benjamin Patterson, since 2016."

This book was supported with resources from the Stiftung Kunstfonds, Bonn, Germany, and is not for sale. For acquisition to a library, archive or database, please contact julia elizabeth neal or Barbro Patterson, the Estate of Benjamin Patterson.


April 3, 2021 / 12:00pm – 2:00pm


Performance Study: Ben Patterson

Join us for an afternoon of edification, creative collaboration, and community that celebrates both the revolutionary work of Benjamin Patterson but also the creativity we have within us all.

In Performance Study: Ben Patterson, a performance art workshop centered on Fluxus co-founder Benjamin Patterson (1934-2016), art historian and Patterson scholar julia elizabeth neal introduces participants to the ideas and key works by this pioneering 20th_century artist. Between a series of short lectures from julia, participants will break into small groups to create and share impromptu interpretations of Patterson’s instruction-based work. Conducted entirely on Zoom, Performance Study is a dynamic event suitable for those new, old, and in-between to Patterson’s work and to performance art more generally. Join us for an afternoon of edification, creative collaboration, and community that celebrates both the revolutionary work of this artist but also the creativity we have within us all.

This virtual lecture will be streamed via Zoom. Register here and receive a reminder to join.

Watching via Zoom
Viewers can watch via Zoom. Zoom participants can join in via audio, video, and text chat during the open conversation portion of the lecture. Zoom participants are capped at 100 people.

Zoom Conversation guide

First-time users can watch this video on how to join a Zoom meeting.

  • Zoom viewers will enter the conversation with audio and video muted. Please stay muted until the open conversation portion. We promise we want to talk to you!
  • Start by introducing yourself with your name and pronouns.
  • We are here to grow and learn! Be open to different styles and areas of knowledge.
  • Share the floor – Be conscious of others joining in with questions and comments.

Panel: Serious Play: Radical Publications and Their Histories is March 11 

Lincoln, Neb.—An art history panel discussion titled “Serious Play: Radical Publications and Their Histories” will take place virtually on Thursday, March 11 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. The panel is presented by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln School of Art, Art History & Design’s Hixson-Lied Visiting Artist & Lecture Series.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public. Access the panel at

The panel will feature Sampada Aranke, Assistant Professor of Art History, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Julia Neal, Lecturer in African American Art History, Georgia State University; Alexis Salas, Assistant Professor of Art History, New Mexico State University; and Kieran Jack Wilson, a Lincoln photographer and activist.

The panel focuses on the role of printed ‘zines, broadsheets and signage in activist histories, and considers those histories’ effect on art and design movements of today. Each speaker will deliver a short five-minute talk exploring the ways that print material plays a key role in mediating global crisis, followed by a conversation moderated by Wilson. 

At the 109th Annual College Art Conference (digital): 

neal is a co-facilitator of a two-part interview in celebration of twenty years of the Association for Critical Race Art History, and will present in brief "Learning from Teaching: Critical Race Art History and African American Art."

ArtWire: Advice from Members Who Are Work At Home Pros

"Community Engagement in A Virtual World

How have you managed to stay engaged with your community during quarantine? Any advice for members in doing so?         

Healthfully. Screen burnout is real; consecutive meetings on so many different platforms is exhausting. Thanks to professionalizing tips I’ve internalized in graduate school, I limit how accessible I am to the never-ending unfolding of life on the internet. I check my emails within a specific timeframe. Of course I deviate occasionally..." read more here.

At the 108th Annual College Art Conference in Chicago, Illinois, neal and Dr. Melanee C. Harvey are co-paneling "Critical and Liberatory Pedagogies in African American Art," on February 13, 2019:

"On the thirtieth anniversary of bell hooks’s Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics (1990), a significant text on cultural criticism and the visual arts, this panel explores the role of critical and liberatory pedagogy within ongoing interdisciplinary reassessments of Black artistic practices. According to hooks, critical and liberatory pedagogies concern “habits of being” for decolonizing knowledge and promoting “the insurrection of subjugated knowledge.” In light of vast intellectual and curatorial work since 1990, in what ways do pedagogies of African American art participate in, problematize, or reaffirm, the space for independent thought? Drawing upon the field’s heterogeneity, we seek papers that address this question by probing ways of teaching and learning African American Art.

The goal is to examine how critical and liberatory pedagogies perform important epistemological work for students and scholars. How do archives and the digital humanities enrich coursework and object study? How might deconstructive analysis produce additional modes of criticality in the wake of recent publications and museum surveys? Although Fred Moten and Stefano Harvey have described teaching as perfunctorily “performing the work of the university” in The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study (2013), these scholarly investigations will illuminate pedagogical strategies for resistance, liberation, or even self-critique."

Thursday, February 13, 2020

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

  • Hilton Chicago - Lobby Level - Continental C

Beginning this summer 2019, neal enters Georgia State University as a Visiting Lecturer in African American Art History. 

April 5, 2019, julia elizabeth neal presents "Are You Listening? Ben Patterson and William Pearson in Duo for Voice and a String Instrument," at the 30th Annual James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art and Art of the African Diaspora. Please see the program here.

October 2, 2018, Department of Art + Art History at the University of Texas at Austin, "Art History doctoral candidate Julia Neal featured in Texte Zur Kunst." Access the announcement here. 

Stiftung Kunstfonds awards the Estate of Benjamin Patterson grant funds for catalogue raisonné development. Please read the announcement here, and neal joins as consultant. 

"Presently Elsewhere: Benjamin Patterson's Flux" to be presented at 106th Annual College Art Association


February 24, 2018

10:30AM to 12:00PM

Room 409A, LA Convention Center

julia elizabeth neal receives a Getty Research library grant (January, 2018)

julia elizabeth neal receives a Fulbright fellowship award (March 23, 2017)

Using Format