Lower Ground Floor, FADA Building, APB
Department: Research Professor Deans' Office
Qualifications: BAFA, BA Hons (Arts History), MA (Art History), PhD (Art History)
Short Bio: Brenda Schmahmann took up a position as Research Professor in FADA in March 2013. She has three decades of academic experience. Previously Professor of Art History & Visual Culture and Head of Fine Art at Rhodes University, she was formerly a staff member in the History of Art Department at the University of the Witwatersrand. Active in research and professional bodies, she served an extended term as the visual arts expert on the National Research Foundation’s panel rating scholars in the Performing and Creative Arts, and was appointed to Chair, with the national Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), a Working Group to make recommendations about the principles and processes to be deployed to accredit and reward all forms of creative and non-conventional research. A council member (and former president) of the South African Visual Arts Association (SAVAH), she is book-review editor for the art history journal De Arte.
Recent Achievements: A B-rated NRF scholar who was a winner of the Vice-Chancellor’s Book Award at Rhodes University, where she was also ranked amongst the institution’s top thirty most productive researchers, she has recently been appointed to the Humanities Standing Committee of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF).
Selected Recent Publications:
2013 In press: Brenda Schmahmann. Picturing Change: Curating Visual Culture at Post-Apartheid Universities. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.
2006 Brenda Schmahmann. Mapula: Embroidery and Empowerment in the Winterveld. Johannesburg: David Krut Publishing.
2005 Marion Arnold (Loughborough University, UK) and Brenda Schmahmann (Eds.) Between Union and Liberation: Women Artists in South Africa 1910-1994 (Aldershot, Hampshire, UK: Ashgate Publishing.
2004 Brenda Schmahmann, Through the Looking Glass: Representations of Self by South African Women Artists. Johannesburg: David Krut Publishing.
2012 ‘Developing Images of Self: Childhood, Youth and Family Photographs in Works by Three South African Women Artists.’ African Arts 45 (4): 8-21, Winter in a special issue on ‘Gender and South African Art’, Brenda Schmahmann co-edited with Kim Miller (Wheaton Colleg e, MA.,USA).
2011 ‘Bringing Cecil out of the Closet: Negotiating Portraits of Rhodes at Two South African Universities’, De Arte 84: 7-30.
2011 ‘After Bayeux: the Keiskamma Tapestry and the Making of South African History’. Textile: The Journal of Cloth & Culture 9 (2): 158-192, July.
2011 ‘More than a “publish or perish” dilemma: Research funding and the creative arts at South African universities’, Focus 61: 29-36, June.
2010 ‘A Framework for Recuperation: HIV/AIDS and the Keiskamma Altarpiece’, African Arts 43 (3): 34-51, Autumn.
2009 ‘Face to Face Negotiations: Portraits of leaders at three South African universities’, De Arte 80: 14-36.
2008 (with John Walters), ‘Against the Picturesque: Christine Dixie’s Bloodspoor’, De Arte 77: 36-51, April.
2007 ‘Needled women: Representations of male conduct in Mapula embroideries’. Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture 5 (1): 10-33, Spring.\
2007 ‘Figuring Maternity: Christine Dixie’s Parturient Prospects’. De Arte 75: 25-41, April.
2006 Ceramic Sculptures by Wilma Cruise: Fragments and Feminist Transgressions’ Interpreting Ceramics 8, October.
2005 ‘Stitches as Sutures: Trauma and Recovery in Works by Women in the Mapula Embroidery Project’, African Arts 38 (3): 52-65, 94-96, Autumn.
Chapters in Books
2013 ‘Stitched up Women – Pinned down Men: Gender Politics in Weya and Mapula Needlework’ for African Art and Agency in the Workshop edited by Sidney Kasfir and Till Forster. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
2010 ‘Staging Masculinities: Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” Video’, in Drewett, Hill, S and Karki, K (eds.), Games without Frontiers: Peter Gabriel from Genesis to Growing Up. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 57-69. Reprinted in paperback in 2012.\
2010 (with Kim Miller) ‘Women’s Cooperatives and Self-Help Artists’ in Berg Encyclopedia of Dress and Fashion, Volume 1 (on Africa) edited by Joanne Eicher and Doran H. Ross. Oxford and New York: Berg, pp. 533-539.
2010 ‘Cast in a Different Light: Women and the ‘Artist’s Studio’ theme in George Segal’s Sculpture.” In Mary Jane Jacob and Michelle Grabner, eds. The Studio Reader: on the space of artists. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, pp. 220-236.
2009 ‘Bodily Issues as Subject Matter: Abjection in the Works of Penny Siopis and Berni Searle’. In Baker, Charlotte (ed.) Expressions of the Body: Representations in African Text and Image. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 97-120.
2009 ‘Into the Breach: Christine Dixie’s Birthing Tray – Honey’, in Du Preez, Amanda (ed.), Taking a Hard Look: Gender and Visual Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholar’s Press, pp. 19-36.
Exhibition Research Project
Brenda Schmahmann conceptualised and organised an exhibition of self-representations by South African women artists, entitled Through the Looking Glass (and which was accompanied by my book of the same name) which toured the country to four museums between July 2004 and June 2005. Its schedule was:
July 2004 Grahamstown and Alumni Galleries in the Albany History Museum, Grahamstown
Sept – Dec 2004 Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, Port Elizabeth
Feb – March 2005 Durban Art Gallery
April – June 2005 Standard Bank Art Gallery, Johannesburg
Recent Conference Papers and Participation:
2013 Forthcoming: ‘Re-visioning the Academic Archive: The Rhodes
University Tapestry’, Utopian Archives: Past and Futures, University of East Anglia, Norwich, 16-17 May.
2012 ‘Reworking the Ghent Altarpiece in the Keiskamma Art Project’s Creation Altarpiece’, Kevin Carroll Conference on African Christian Art, Dromantine Conference and Retreat Centre, County Down, Northern Ireland, 5-7 October.
2012 ‘Embroidery the Facts? Markets and the subject matter of works by the Mapula project in South Africa’, 15-20 July. 33rd CIHA Congress on The Challenge of the Object, German National Museum, Nuremberg.
2012 ‘Memories of Childhood in the Works of South African Women Artists’ SAVAH conference, 3-5 July, University of South Africa.
2011 “Bringing Cecil out of the Closet: Portraits of Rhodes at two South African Universities”, paper presented at the Art Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA) Triennial in Los Angeles, 23-26 March.
2011 Co-convened (with Shannen Hill, University of Maryland) “Transformation in South African art and culture”, panel at the ACASA Triennial in Los Angeles, 23-26 March.
2011 “Gender in the Keiskamma Tapestry”. Paper presented at the CIHA/SAVAH colloquium on Art and the Global South at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 12-15 January.
2011 Convened “Unsettling Hierarchies: Engagements with gender in art of the Global South”. Panel I convened at the CIHA/SAVAH colloquium at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 12-15 January.
2009 “Representing HIV/AIDS in South Africa via Embroidery: The Keiskamma Altarpiece”. Conference on “Embroidery and Story Telling” hosted by the English Department, University of Rouen, France, December.\
2009 “A Framework for Recuperation: HIV/AIDS and the Keiskamma Altarpiece” at the SAVAH conference at the University of Pretoria, July.
2008 “Against the Picturesque: Christine Dixie’s Bloodspoor”, SAVAH conference at the University of Stellenbosch, September.
2007 “Representations of Maternity in Christine Dixie’s Parturient Prospects”, Gender and Visual Culture conference at the University of Pretoria, 20-21 June.
2007 “Attentive Fathers and Loving Husbands in Works by Women in the Mapula Embroidery Project” at the ACASA triennial conference in Gainesville, Florida, USA, in March.