Freida High W. Tesfagiorgis

Credentials: Professor Emeritus


Freida High W. Tesfagiorgis

Ph.D., University of Chicago
M.A., M.F.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.S., Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL

Short Biography
High is a painter, art historian, and visual culturalist. Her expertise is modern/contemporary art, visual culture, and art theory, with emphasis on contemporary Africa and the African Diaspora (Northern Hemisphere), and modern European Art and Primitivism. Feminism and critical race theory permeate her work. She has exhibited, curated exhibitions, and published, spanning the boundaries of artist and scholar.

“In Search of a Discourse and Critiques that Center the Art of Black Women Artists“ is a seminal work for which she is most known, having been published four times: Theorizing Black Feminism/s (1993), Stanlie James & Abena Busia, (ed); Black Feminist Cultural Criticism: Keyworks in Cultural Studies (2001), Jacqueline Bobo (ed.); Gendered Vision, 1998 (Salah Hassan, ed.); and Feminist Art Theory (2001), Hilary Robinson (ed.). She coined the term, “Afrofemcentrism, “ in 1984, subsequently expounding it in “Afrofemcentrism: The Work of Elizabeth Catlett and Faith Ringgold,” Sage: A Scholarly Journal For Black Women, Volume IV, No. 1, Spring 1987; revised and published in The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History (1992), Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard (ed.) .

She subsequently replaced Afrofemcentrism with black feminism to expand the ideological and geographical limitations of the former. A subsequent publication reveals that difference: “Interweaving Black Feminism and Art History: Framing Nigeria” in Contemporary Textures: MultiDimensionality in Nigerian Art (1999), Nkiru Nzegwu (ed.). Another key work is “Chiasmas: Art in Politics/Politics in Art (Chicano/a and African-American Image, Text, and Activism of the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies,”Voices of Color in the Americas, Phoebe Ferris-Duphrene (ed.), Humanities Press (1997). Among shorter works are: “El Salahi” (Sudan); “Valente Malangatana” (Mozambique); “Erharbor Emokpai” (Nigeria); “Iba N’Diaye” (Senegal/ Paris); “Vincent Kofi” (Ghana), St. James Guide to Black Artists (1997), Tom Riggs (ed).

Publications about High’s Art

Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists (Jontyle Robinson, 1996); St. James Guide to Black Artists (1997), Tom Riggs (ed); Gumbo Ya Ya: The Art of African American Women Artists (Leslie Hammonds, 1995); The Art of Black American Women: Works of Twenty-Four Artists of the Twentieth Century (Robert Henkes, 1993), International Review of African-American Art (December 1990); Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation by Michael Harris (forthcoming 2003).

Gibbes Museum of Art (Charleston, SC); Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art (Wichita, KS); Portland Museum of Art (MN); Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX); Elvehjem Museum of Art (Madison, WI); Polk Museum of Art (Lakeland, Fl); Minnesota Museum of American Art (St Paul, MN); Kennedy Museum of American Art (Athens, OH); Museum of Art, (Charleston, SC) (again after opening at Spelman College); National Arts Club (New York, NY); Studio Museum in Harlem (NY); Madison Art Center (Madison, WI); Leigh Yawkey Museum of Art (Wausau, WI); Milwaukee Art Museum (Milwaukee, WI); Grand Rapids Art Museum (Grand Rapids, MI); National Afro-American Museum, (Columbus,OH); National Center of Afro-American Art (Roxbury, MA); Schenectady Museum (NY); Fine Arts Museum of the South (Mobile, AL); Burpee Art Museum (Rockford, IL) University and college museums and galleries include some of the following: Herbert Johnson Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca (NY); Camille Cosby Humanities Center, Fine Arts Gallery (Atlanta, GA); Art Gallery, Bradley University (Peoria, IL); Montgomery Art Gallery, Scripps College (Pomona, CA); Art Gallery, Alabama A&M University (Normal, AL); Cardinal Stritch College (Milwaukee, WI); Rosenthal Gallery, Fayetteville State University (NC); Art Gallery, Alverno College (Milwaukee, WI); University of Louisville (Louisville, KY); Art Gallery, University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee, WI); Art Gallery, Malcolm X College (Chicago, IL); Art Gallery, Kentucky State University (Frankfort, KY); Afro-American Arts Institute, Indiana University (Bloomington, IN); Afro-American Cultural Center, Purdue University (Lafayette, IN); Art Center, Depauw University (Greencastle, IN); Governors State University (Park Forest, IL); Art Gallery, Rockford College (Rockford, IL); Trisollini Gallery, Ohio University (Athens, OH).

Other select local and global locations include: San Francisco Bay Area Civic Center (CA); South Side Community Art Center (Chicago, IL); Peltz Gallery (Milwaukee, WI); Art Gallery, Atlanta Life & Mutual Insurance Co.(Atlanta, GA); Wright Art Center (Beloit, WI); Museo Arte Contemporanea di Gibellina (Palermo, Italy); America House (Berlin, Germany); National Gallery (Dakar, Senegal); 6e Concours International de la Palme D’or des Beaux Arts, Palmares, Monte-Carlo, etc.