Uri McMillan, associate professor of gender studies and English, has been named the 2021–22 Walter Jackson Bate fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. He will join a group of artists, scientists, scholars and practitioners for a year of discovery and interdisciplinary exchange in Cambridge.
As the Walter Jackson Bate fellow, McMillan will pursue an individual project in a community dedicated to exploration and inquiry. His project is a cultural history of select artistic figures living and working in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s, tracing their networks of affiliation and the category-defying work they produced. These cultural actors — including fashion illustrator/photographer Antonio Lopez, performer Grace Jones and model Pat Cleveland — often frustrated dichotomies between high art and the popular while routinely communicating through style.
McMillan is a cultural historian who researches and writes in the interstices between Black cultural studies, performance studies, queer theory and contemporary art. His first book, “Embodied Avatars: Genealogies of Black Feminist Art and Performance,” is about Black performance art, objecthood and avatars staged by Black women artists. He has published articles about performance art, digital media, hip-hop, photography and 19th-century performance cultures. In addition, he has lectured at art museums and published numerous essays on Black contemporary art for the Studio Museum in Harlem. His work has been supported by the Ford Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.