Matthew Francis Rarey joins the UWM Department of Art History for the 2014-2015 academic year as a Visiting Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora arts. Looking at African art as an ongoing process, Prof. Rarey’s work considers formation and transformation of African objects as they pinball back and forth across the black Atlantic Ocean. His current book project explores this idea through bolsas de mandinga: small protective pouches with cross-cultural origins in West Africa that accumulated new forms and histories as they spread across Africa, Portugal, and Brazil over the past four centuries.
Even with this research wanderlust, Prof. Rarey seemingly never wishes to leave the bi-state area. He completed his B.A. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; in between, he held teaching and curatorial positions at the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures (Urbana), the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago), Carthage College (Kenosha), and the Chazen Museum of Art (Madison).
At UWM, Prof. Rarey is particularly excited to work with the staff of the UWM Art History Gallery to help showcase the university’s impressive holdings of African objects – the Emile H. Mathis II Collection of African Art and the Mark and Mary Jo Wentzel Collection of African Art – by integrating them as tools for teaching, research, and community outreach. UWM’s African collections will be front-and-center as Prof. Rarey teaches the introductory survey of African, New World, and Oceanic art and architecture; as well as advanced courses on African Art and cultural transformations in the African-Atlantic world.