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Artist-scholar Arturo Lindsay Retires From Spelman

December 2015

Arturo Lindsay RetiresIn the summer of 1990, a passionate, innovative and multi-talented scholar, artist and cultural advocate came to teach at Spelman College. Twenty-five years later, the man who wears many hats, including the "King of Collaboration," and "Global Visual Arts Ambassador," is retiring and his legacy on campus and beyond Spelman's gates will be applauded for years to come.

Arturo Lindsay, D.A., professor and chair of the Art and Art History Department, is an artist-scholar who conducts ethnographic research on African spiritual and aesthetic retentions in contemporary American cultures. His research findings are manifested in works of art, as well as, scholarly lectures and articles.

A native of Colon, a seaport city on the Caribbean coast of the Republic of Panama,  Lindsay migrated with his parents to New York City at age 12 and settled in Brooklyn, New York. Lindsay’s work is represented in important private and public collections nationwide and abroad.

As a scholar, Lindsay has lectured and published several essays on New World African religious, spiritual, and aesthetic retentions. He is the editor of Santería Aesthetics in Contemporary Latin American Art published by the Smithsonian Institution Press.

As an educator, Lindsay developed the Spelman College Summer Art Colony to provide college students and emerging artists an opportunity to live and work in the village of Portobelo, Panama each summer.

He received a Doctor of Arts degree from New York University and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He was the 2006 Distinguished Batza Family Chair at Colgate University, and in 2005 he was the Kemp Distinguished Visiting Professor at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. In 1997, Lindsay received the Spelman College Presidential Award for Scholarship, and in 1999, he served as a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of Panama.

A Global Visual Arts Ambassador

Arturo Linday RetiresLindsay’s work is represented in important private and public collections nationwide and abroad. He has exhibited in major solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, Panama, Mexico, Germany, Peru, and Italy. Recent solo exhibitions include Retorno de las ánimas Africanas, at the Segunda Bienal Iberoaméricana de Lima, Salones de los Artistas Invitados in Lima, Perú.

In 2012, Lindsay was one of 15 elite artists selected by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, to promote diplomacy as part of the new smARTpower initiative. As part of the project, Lindsay spent up to 45 days in Cairo, Egypt engaging in people-to-people diplomacy through the visual arts.

In His Own Words . . .

A Passionate Creator and Promoter of Art and Art History

Arturo Linday RetiresMy interest in African retentions in the Americas has brought me to an important personal and professional crossroad where the paths of my spiritual, scholarly, and aesthetic journeys meet.  As an artist, I use ethnographic research methods to uncover information people use to order their lives, construct identity, and create culture.  My research findings are presented in works of art, scholarly articles, essays, and lectures.  I am particularly interested in observing the  African spiritual and aesthetic presence grounded in the concept of cultural mestizaje--cross-cultural mixing in Latin America."

The Man Behind Portobelo

My three paths were fused in 1994 when I established a studio in Portobelo, a 16th century Spanish colonial village on the Caribbean coast of the Republic of Panama steeped in magic, myth, mystery and miracles.  This experience has given me an opportunity to observe anew the ways Panamanians tell their stories through art, folklore, and ritual.  In Portobelo, I became interested in telling the stories of the
cimarrones — Africans who escaped from slavery, and their descendants, the Congos.
I return to Portobelo each year where I am now an integral part of Taller Portobelo, an
artist cooperative dedicated to preserving local traditions, while developing new ones.  My residency in Portobelo has completely changed the direction of my life and the way I now create and produce works of art.

After establishing the Spelman College Summer Art Colony in 1997, I have since purchased 13 acres of land on the Bay of Portobelo where we are building Casa Arturo, a permanent artist colony in which artists and students from the United States, Europe and Latin America can live and work along with the artists of Taller Portobelo, as well as emerging and internationally recognized artists, scientists and scholars.

Learn More About Lindsay and View Videos of His Work