Past Event

20 and Odd: The 400-Year Anniversary of 1619

August 30, 2019 - September 30, 2019
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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Leroy Neiman Gallery, 310 Dodge Hall, 2960 Broadway, New York, NY 10027

This exhibition is designed to commemorate the 400-year anniversary of the first documented arrival of Africans landing at the Jamestown settlement in 1619. Curated by Kalia Brooks Nelson, Adjunct Professor with IRAAS in the African American and African Diaspora Studies Program, it will coincide with the IRAAS 1619 conference, and serve as a site to explore this history through images, documents, archival materials and contemporary art. Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in the United States. At the time of British occupation, Virginia was the indigenous homeland of the Powhatan people. When the first documented Africans arrived in the contested ground of British colony in 1619, they were recorded as “20 and odd Negroes,” who disembarked from an English pirate ship flying a Dutch flag.


Leroy Neiman Gallery
Columbia University – School of the Arts 2960 roadway Suite 310
Dodge Hall
New York, NY 10027

Satellite Location:

Miller Theater 2960 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
Site-specific installation by Adama Delphine Fawundu

These Africans represent the collateral of European Imperialism, and a small part of the massively lucrative, international systems of exchange (goods, services, currency, resources and labor) that facilitated the dominance of the Atlantic World from the 16th through 20th centuries. As such, they signify the integral importance of Western Africa in the development and prosperity of the New World, and more specifically the central role of Africans in transforming what would become the United States into a political, cultural and economic world power.

This exhibition contains artworks and reproductions of archival materials. Using the collections at Columbia University’s Art Properties and Rare Book and Manuscript Library – as well as collections and archives at New York Public Library and the Library of Congress, the exhibition identifies key materials that locate Africans within early accounts of the colonial project that would become the United States, and provide insight on what the texture of life would have been like for Africans in the conflicted space of the New World. These archival materials are the basis from which to consider contemporary art that reflects attitudes, agreements, discord, popular culture and personal accounts about Africa and the descendants of African people as foundational actors in the emergence of the Atlantic World. Artists in the exhibition include: Thomas Askew, Sanford Biggers, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum, Hank Willis Thomas, Paula Wilson and Hale Woodruff.


Companion Programming:

Curator talk with Sanford Biggers:

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 5p – 6p
612 Schermerhorn Hall Columbia University

Exhibition Closing Reception:

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 6p – 8p
Leroy Neiman Gallery

AAADS Conference 1619 and its Legacies:

September 26 – 27, 2019


Kalia Brooks Nelson, PhD, is a New York based educator, curator, consultant, and arts administrator. She is currently an Adjunct Professor in the African American and African Diaspora Studies Department at Columbia University. Her research is at the intersection of art theory, race, gender and imaging technologies. Brooks Nelson holds a PhD in Aesthetics and Art Theory from the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. She received her MA in Curatorial Practice from the California College of the Arts in 2006, and was a Helena Rubinstein Fellow in Critical Studies at the Whitney Independent Study Program 2007/2008. She is co-editor of Women and Migration: Responses in Art and History published in 2019 by Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK. She has served as a consulting curator with the City of New York through the Department of Cultural Affairs and Gracie Mansion Conservancy. Brooks Nelson is also currently an ex-officio trustee on the Board of the Museum of the City of New York.

20 and odd poster