South of Expo: Art, Artists and Cultural Spaces Since the 1960s

April 29 - 30

Times and locations vary
See schedule for details


Admission is free
Reservations required here.


Kellie Jones, Ben Caldwell, Groger Guenveur Smith, Amitis (Ami) Motevalli, Cameron Shaw, Pilar Rivas Tompkins, Lisa Diane Wedgeworth, Bethany Montagano, Tiffany E. Barber, Ray Anthony Barrett, Alicia Piller and Felix Quintana.


Visiting Guidelines

For the wellbeing of our students and all who visit USC, and until further notice: masks are encouraged but not required when indoors. 

For the California African American Museum’s current COVID-19 safety requirements, click here.



This inspiring two-day series of events will focus on art, artists, and cultural organizations in South Los Angeles since the 1960s. On Friday, April 29, at the USC Roski School of Art and Design, renowned art historian and curator Kellie Jones will give a keynote lecture on her book, South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s. Jones’s lecture will provide context for three roundtables on Saturday, April 30, at the California African American Museum (CAAM). The first roundtable will explore postwar histories of several Black arts institutions and community-engaged art practices in the Crenshaw-Leimert Park and West Adams neighborhoods. In the second roundtable, curators and directors from museums and artist-founded spaces will discuss new initiatives, programs, and challenges for art institutions in South L.A. today. At the third roundtable, a curator and a scholar will converse with a younger generation of cultural producers about current artistic practices and the larger cultural landscape in the South L.A. area. The program will culminate with a reception for participants and attendees at the USC Fisher Museum of Art courtyard.

Schedule (Subject to Change):



USC Gin Wong Auditorium, Roski School of Art and Design
A lecture by Kellie Jones will be followed by a discussion with Naima Keith, vice president of education and public programs at LACMA, and Essence Harden, curator at CAAM.



California African American Museum Atrium

10–10:30 a.m.: Coffee and welcome

10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.: Roundtable 1—Postwar Histories: Black Arts Institutions and Community-Based Practices in South L.A.
Moderated by USC Annenberg professor Robeson Taj Frazier, with Kellie Jones; Ben Caldwell, filmmaker and founder of KAOS network; Roger Guenveur Smith, actor, director, writer, and collaborator with Spike Lee; and Amitis Motevalli, artist and director of the William Grant Still Art Center.

1–2:30 p.m.: Roundtable 2—Museums and Artist-Run Spaces in South L.A. Today
Moderated by Cameron Shaw, executive director and chief curator at CAAM, with Pilar Tompkins Rivas, chief curator and deputy director of curatorial and collections at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art; Lisa Diane Wedgeworth, artist and executive director of Blue Roof Studios; Sophia Belsheim, director of ART + PRACTICE; and Bethany Montagano, director of the USC Museums.

2:45–4:45 p.m.: Roundtable 3—A New Generation of Art and Artists in South L.A.
Moderated by Tiffany E. Barber, assistant professor of Africana Studies and Art History at the University of Delaware and Scholar in Residence at the Getty Research Institute, with Ray Anthony Barrett, visual artist and chef; Alicia Piller, mixed media artist; and Felix Quintana, artist and educator.

USC Fisher Museum of Art Courtyard
Attendees and participants are invited to a closing event with drinks, light bites, and music.



Tiffany E. Barber is a nationally and internationally recognized scholar, curator, and critic whose writing and expert commentary has appeared in academic journals, popular media outlets, and award-winning documentaries. She is assistant professor of Africana Studies and Art History at the University of Delaware as well as curator-in-residence at the Delaware Contemporary, and her latest curatorial project, a virtual, multimedia exhibition for Google Arts and Culture, examines the value of Afrofuturism in times of crisis.

Ray Anthony Barrett is a visual artist and chef, who lives and works in Los Angeles. For most of his career, his art practice has been concerned with language, its use as a tool to perpetuate power dynamics, and how meaning shifts in relation to images and perspective. Since 2018, Ray’s pop-up, CINQVÉ, has been devoted to tracing the evolution of Soul Food from California to its West African origins.

Sophia Bleisheim is the director of Art + Practice. Located in the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Leimert Park, the foundation and space organizes programs and activities for transition-age foster youth and provides Angelenos with free access to museum-curated contemporary art.

Ben Caldwell is a Los Angeles–based arts educator and independent filmmaker. His work has been shown nationally and internationally, most recently at LAMAG and at the Tate Modern. Caldwell taught 15 years at CalArts, was a major founding force in CAP (Community Arts Partnership), and founded the KAOS Network community art/tech accelerator center dedicated to providing training on digital arts, media arts, and multimedia in Leimert Park.

Robeson Taj Frazier is a cultural historian and professor of communication at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism who explores the arts, politics, and expressive cultures of the people of the African Diaspora in the United States and elsewhere. His research examines histories and current-day dynamics of race and gender, cultural traffic and contact, urban culture and life, and popular culture.

Essence Harden is a visual arts curator and program manager at the California African American Museum and an independent arts writer. Harden has curated exhibitions at California African American Museum, Charlie James Gallery, Antenna Gallery (New Orleans), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), and Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD). She is a contributor to numerous publications and catalogs, has served as an art consultant for film and television, and was a 2020 Annenberg Innovation Lab Civic Media Fellow.

Kellie Jones is a professor in art history and archaeology and African American and African Diaspora studies at Columbia University. Her writings have appeared in a multitude of exhibition catalogues and journals, and she is the author of EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art and South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s.

Naima J. Keith is the vice president of education and public programs at LACMA. Prior to her position at LACMA, Keith was the deputy director and chief curator at CAAM, where she guided the curatorial and education departments as well as marketing and communications.

Bethany Montagano is the director of the USC Museums. Previously, she served as senior curator at the Skirball Cultural Center and also had a formidable role in opening the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and on exhibitions and publications at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

Amitis Motevalli is director of the William Grant Still Art Center and an artist who explores the cultural resistance and survival of people living in poverty, conflict, and war. Through many mediums—including, sculpture, video, performance, and collaborative public art—her work asks questions about violence, occupation, and the path to decolonization, while invoking the significance of a secular grassroots struggle.

Alicia Piller is a Los Angeles–based artist who received her MFA from CalArts in the spring of 2019. Envisioning political and environmental traumas through the lens of a microscope, her sculptures and installations conceive of past atrocities, suffering, and accomplishments as biological forms broken down to a cellular level.

Felix Quintana is a multidisciplinary artist, photographer, and educator best known for his experimental photographs of the Los Angeles urban landscape. Quintana has exhibited his work at Vincent Price Art Museum, Residency Art Gallery, MACLA, Vox Populi Gallery, Southern Exposure, SOMARTS Cultural Center, Museum of Art and History in Lancaster, and LAXART. He is the inaugural artist-in-residence for the Art of Movement Building residency at MACLA in San Jose, California. 

Cameron Shaw is the executive director and chief curator at the California African American Museum. Prior to her time at CAAM, the widely published writer and editor was the executive director of New Orleans–based Pelican Bomb, a non-profit contemporary art organization that was a forum for exhibitions, public programs, and arts journalism.

Roger Guenveur Smith is an award-winning actor, playwright, and director whose Obie-winning solo show A Huey P. Newton Story was turned into a Peabody-winning telefilm by director and frequent collaborator Spike Lee. Smith and Lee were honored at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival for their eclectic body of work, which includes the classic Do The Right Thing. Smith’s recent screen credits have been inspired by Rosa Parks, Nat Turner, and Thurgood Marshall.

Pilar Tompkins Rivas is chief curator and deputy director of curatorial and collections at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Previously, Tompkins Rivas served as director and chief curator at the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College, where she spearheaded partnerships between the museum and the Smithsonian; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. She also launched programs that increase diversity in the museum field, including a museum studies certificate program.

Lisa Diane Wedgeworth is an interdisciplinary artist whose large-scale abstract paintings are informed by memory and employ energetic mark-making to interpret psychological and emotional energies. She received the COLA Individual Artist Fellowship in 2020 and has lectured about her work at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness, Franklin County, OH), OTIS, Cal State LA, and Chapman University. Currently, she produces the public platform, Conversations About Abstraction, to share the voices of abstract artists historically excluded from the Western canon.


Presented by USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative. Organized by the USC Roski School of Art and Design. Co-sponsored by the California African American Museum, USC Department of Art History, USC RAP (Race, Arts, & Place), and IDEA (Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg).