The National Research Foundation (NRF) awarded an international research chair to the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Prof Brenda Schmahmann from the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), at the 2015 NRF Awards held on Thursday, 27 August 2015 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
UJ: Prof Brenda Schmahmann appointed Director, NRF’s South African Art and Visual Culture Centre The National Research Foundation (NRF) awarded an international research chair to the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Prof Brenda Schmahmann from the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), at the 2015 NRF Awards held on Thursday, 27 August 2015 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Pictured: Director for the South African Art and Visual Culture Centre: Prof Brenda Schmahmann.
As the newly appointed Director for the South African Art and Visual Culture Centre, Prof Schmahmann intends to yield a strong focus on enabling emerging researchers to become established using the synergies between research interests and those of others in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture – a connection which means that her research chair will offer FADA enormous opportunities to advance the academic project.
Much of Prof Schmahmann’s scholarship is focused on gender, and on exploring and analysing the works of women artists in mainstream contexts as well as practitioners working in the context of community projects. She also has specialist interest in the politics of public art and thorny questions it raises about transformation.
“I welcome this opportunity to allow my own contacts to benefit people in my faculty, and in that way to offer colleagues increased opportunities to establish national and international links. Where people can test their work, I envisage hosting postdoctoral fellows who, besides working on their own publications, will undertake projects which enhance scholarship and research within the University – whether through the organisation of conferences or seminar programmes, the mentoring of postgraduates, or through undertaking curatorial projects, for example. And perhaps most crucially of all, my intention is to contribute to the UJ’s increasing postgraduate cohort and thus to work towards enabling retired researchers to be replaced by an appropriately qualified younger generation.”
About Prof Brenda Schmahmann
Prof Brenda Schmahmann holds an NRF B-rating and is active in research and professional bodies. She joined the University of Johannesburg as a Professor with a Research Specialisation in March 2013. She has more than three decades of academic experience. She was a professor of Art History & Visual Culture at Rhodes University (where she received the Vice-Chancellor’s Book Medal in 2007) between 2002 until her move to UJ. This period included a seven-year stint as Head of Fine Art. She was formerly a staff member in the History of Art Department at the University of the Witwatersrand. Prof Schmahmann is also a former president of the South African Visual Arts Historians. She is a long-standing member of the Arts Colleges of the African Studies Association (ACASA) in the United States. She served an extended term on the NRF’s panel for rating scholars in the Performing and Creative Arts and is a member of the Standing Committee of Humanities of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).
Prof Schmahmann is a book-review editor and editorial board member of the journal, De Arte, since the late 1990s. She was on the Advisory Group of The Art Book, a journal published until 2011 by the Art History Association in the United Kingdom. She frequently acts as a scholarly reader for journals and publishers. She co-edited a special issue of African Arts (published by MIT) on Gender and South African Art (Winter 2012). The newly appointed Director for the South African Art and Visual Culture Centre organised panels for a number of international conferences and was recently appointed as the international chair of the session on gender at the Comité international d’histoire de l’art Congress which is being held in Beijing in 2016. She has published a large number of scholarly journal articles and book chapters. She has curated two complex exhibitions that travelled to various museums – each over the duration of a year. The sole author of three books, she has also edited (or co-edited) two scholarly volumes. She has additionally recently co-edited a volume (with Kim Miller of Wheaton College, MA. USA) which has been submitted to an international publisher for review and is currently working on her fourth sole-authored book.
The other female-led new chairs are Laser Applications in Health: Prof Heidi Abrahamse (Faculty of Health Sciences); Integrated Studies of Learning Language, Mathematics and Science in the Primary School: Prof Elizabeth Henning; Welfare and Social Development: Prof Leila Patel (Faculty of Humanities); and Industrial Development: Prof Fiona Tregenna (Faculty of Economic and Financial Sciences).
The awarding of the new distinguished research chairs take the number of chairs that UJ now holds to 12 and will with no doubt further elevate the University’s research capabilities, output and global impact.
The five new chairs augment the following chairs at UJ:
African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy: Prof Chris Landsberg (Faculty of Humanities); Education and Care in Childhood: Prof Jace Pillay (Faculty of Education); Geometallurgy: Prof Fanus Viljoen (Faculty of Science); Indigenous Plant Use: Prof Ben Erik van Wyk (Faculty of Science);International Law: Prof Hennie Strydom (Faculty of Law); Social Change: Prof Peter Alexander (Faculty of Humanities); Nanotechnology for Water: Prof VK Gupta (Faculty of Science).
UJ is home to 144 rated researchers, six of whom are A-rated. The A-rated researchers are: Prof Micheal Henning (Faculty of Science); Prof Nic Beukes (Faculty of Science); Prof Hendrik Ferreira (Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment); Prof Bill Harris (Faculty of Health Sciences); Prof John Maina (Faculty of Science) and Prof Thaddeus Metz (Faculty of Humanities).