• Sun. Nov 27th, 2022

Taft Museum hosts Duncanson Artist-in-Residence Ajanae Dawkins—writer and performance artist

By Sarah Ditlinger

Taft Museum of Art

The Taft Museum of Art and the Robert S. Duncanson Society are now hosting writer, performer, and educator Ajanae Dawkins, as the 2022 Duncanson Artist-in-Residence April 10–23.

The Taft’s Duncanson Artist-in-Residence was established in 1986 by the Robert S. Duncanson Society (founded by Doris Rankin Sells, the late William Joel McCray, and Ruth K. Meyer) to affirm an ongoing African American presence within the structure of the Taft Museum of Art. The program honors the relationship between African American painter Robert S. Duncanson and his patron, Nicholas Longworth, who commissioned Duncanson to paint a series of eight landscape murals in the foyer of his home, now the Taft Museum of Art.

Dawkins will be ushering in the residency’s 35th year as a fitting prelude to the completion of the museum’s $12.7 million Bicentennial Infrastructure Project (June 2022) which is ensuring the preservation of its prized National Historic Landmarks: the Taft historic house and the Duncanson Murals.

Dawkins has performed, and has been featured, at venues across the country including opening for the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and for the Taft’s first Duncanson Artist-in-Residence, poet Nikki Giovanni. Her work has been published in the EcoTheo Review, The BreakBeat Poets Black Girl Magic Anthology, The Offing, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Winter Tangerine, The Blueshift Journal, Voicemail Poems, The Underscore Review, Word Riot, Gramma Poetry, and other anthologies and journals. Dawkins’ work has also been featured on For Harriet, Def Jam, and Button Poetry and in EBONY Magazine for the “Faces of Frustration: A Year of Racial Protest.”

Dawkins has not only demonstrated her talent with numerous published and performed works but has garnered national recognition for her craft. Dawkins is the winner of Tinderbox Poetry Journal’s Editors Prize; a finalist for the Cave Canem Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook prize; and a finalist for the Brett Elizabeth Jenkins poetry prize. She is a two-time individual finalist for the Rust Belt regional slam, crowning her as one of the top five poets in the Midwest, twice. She was also a contributing writer for the Theatre LILA of Madison, Wisconsin.     

Currently, Dawkins is a fellow of The Watering Hole writer’s retreat for African American writers and of Pink Door Writing Retreat. She is also an editor for Voicemail Poems, the 2020 Nancy Craig Blackburn Fellow as an MFA candidate at Randolph College, and an Alford Scholar as an M.Div. candidate at Methodist Theological School of Ohio.