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New AAAS professor brings art background to classroom

By Brianna Cummings

Section: Arts

December 2, 2016

Brandeis is an institution known for its top-notch academics. This is because Brandeis does a great job collecting the brightest minds and the most gifted professors. These professors are experts in their fields and share their knowledge with students among various disciplines. In the spring semester, Brandeis plans on adding another renown academic to its faculty: Dr. Salah Hassan. Hassan will be a professor in the African and Afro-American Studies (AAAS) department with a focus on African art and culture.

Hassan is originally from Sudan. He received his master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and is an art historian, art critic and curator. Hassan works as an editor for many publications. He edited and served as founder of NKA: Journal for Contemporary Art and has worked as an editor for Atlantica and Journals of Curatorial Studies. Hassan has also edited and written books such as “Darfur and the Crisis of Governance: A Critical Reader,” “Diaspora, Memory, Place,” “Unpacking Europe,” “Authentic/Ex-Centric, Gendered Visions: The Art of Contemporary Africana Women Artists” and “Art and Islamic Literacy among the Hausa of Northern Nigeria.”

Many students who have already met Hassan admire him and his work, and are excited that he will be teaching at Brandeis. Sarah Nzisabira ’20, a first-year and prospective AAAS major, had the pleasure of meeting Hassan when he spoke to her Introduction to AAAS class on Monday, Nov. 28.

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading his article on African modernism and benefited greatly from the class’ discussion on modernity with a focus on contemporary African art,” Nzisabira said, elaborating that Hassan “ventured to answer complex generational questions such as what makes a piece of art authentically African and the historic erasure of African artists from the global contributions to modernism.”

The two classes on his roster for the spring semester are African Cinema and Introduction to African Art. These classes will add a fun, artistic element to the AAAS course catalog.

Nzisabira believes that Hassan’s classes will be very enlightening for his students. “Introduction to African Art and African Cinema will be great additions to the AAAS department,” she noted, “as he encourages us to explore the history of the African continent and its diaspora in a new way and sheds light on the often overlooked pre-colonial art forms, their effect on modernist African artworks and the role that African art and artists assume on a contemporary global stage.”

Because art is a powerful instrument for self-expression, especially when one is being oppressed, it is crucial to examine African American art. Prospective AAAS major Victoria Richardson ’20 explained that, “Adding art classes into the AAAS major will benefit our understanding of how Africans and people of African descent have impacted and influenced art culture.” Evidently, Salah Hassan’s knowledge and expertise will help the Brandeis community do just that.

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