Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College in Atlanta, has received the 2018 Hooks National Book Award from the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis. Dr. Campbell was honored for her book An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden (Oxford University Press, 2018).
An American Odyssey is a telling biography of the artist Romare Bearden, whose iconic collages conveyed the richness and complexity of African American life in the civil rights era.
“The book is deeply researched, beautifully written and crisply paced,” said Dr. Aram Goudsouzian, Hooks Institute National Book Award chair and professor of history. “Art presents a unique lens upon the struggle for Black freedom. An American Odyssey situates Bearden’s art within his personal history, transformations in art and technology, and the larger context of Black politics in the 20th century. It is, without any doubt, a most worthy winner of the 2018 Hooks National Book Award.”
Before assuming her presidency at Spelman College, Dr. Campbell held various leadership roles in the arts industry of New York. She was chair of the department of art and public policy, dean of the Tisch School of the Arts, and associate provost for the arts at New York University. Additionally, she served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, executive director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, curator at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, and editor of the Syracuse New Times.
In addition to An American Odyssey, Dr. Campbell is the co-author of Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America (Harry Abrams, 1987) and Memory and Metaphor: The Art of Romare Bearden, 1940-1987 (Oxford University Press, 1991). She is also the co-editor of Artistic Citizenship: A Public Voice for the Arts (Routledge, 2006).
Dr. Campbell is a graduate of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where she majored in English literature. She holds a master’s degree in art history and a Ph.D. in humanities both from Syracuse University in New York.
Reprinted from The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, July 26, 2019