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Samella Lewis, Historian of Black Art, Honored By CAA

Renowned artist and art scholar Samella Lewis was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the College Art Association for its 2021 edition.

Samella Lewis is best known for her vast array of works that depict the Black experience in the United States. She was the first African-American to get a Ph.D. in art from the Ohio State University. As an artist, her works were featured in the acclaimed exhibition by Hammer Museum that focused on Black art.

But Lewis is perhaps more notable for her academic adventures, including numerous books and teaching positions. ‘African American Arts and Artists’, published in 1978, is still considered one of the most authentic books about Black art history in America. She was the co-editor on the two volumes of ‘Black Artists on Art’ (1969-71). She was also behind many documentaries that covered the same subject.

Lewis’s academic career had been exceptional. After being a Fulbright Scholar in Taiwan, she became a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Southern California. This was followed by a position as an education coordinator at Los Angeles County Museum in 1969. Between 1970 and 1984, she was also a professor of art history at Scripps College.

The College Art Association is a US-based organization that promotes art history scholarships. The CAA awards were announced as part of their annual conference in February. The full list of other recipients could be found here.