Cécile Fromont is an associate professor in the history of art department at Yale University. Her writing and teaching focus on the visual, material, and religious culture of Africa and Latin America with a special emphasis on the early modern period (ca 1500-1800) and on the Portuguese-speaking Atlantic World. Her award winning first book, The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo was published in 2014 by the University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute for Early American History. It has been translated into French by Les Presses du Réel in 2018. She is the editor as well as a contributor to the 2019 volume Afro-Catholic Festivals in the Americas: Performance, Representation, and the Making of Black Atlantic Tradition published in the Africana Religion Series at Penn State University Press. Her essays on African and Latin American art have appeared, among other venues, in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Art History, Colonial Latin American Review, African Arts, Anais do Museu Paulista, RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics as well as various edited volumes and exhibition catalogues.
Visual, material, and religious culture of early-modern Africa and Latin America.
Connected by Design: Material and Aesthetic Exchange between Africa and Europe in the Era of the Slave Trade
Building on a decade and a half of archival and museum research this project aims at cataloguing and analyzing the fine textiles and metalwork traded on the African Atlantic coast during the slave trade era. These objects made in Europe to the taste of African patrons as well as African creations incorporating the imported wares bear witness to a sophisticated, cumulative, cross-Atlantic exchange of elite material goods and aesthetic conceptions, that ran parallel to and sustained the abject trade in human chattel. The analysis of their conception, production, and circulation allows to sketch a richer and more balanced view of the long lasting, sophisticated interactions that unfolded across and around the Atlantic world between Africans and Europeans not only at the level of economic relations, but also in the realm of aesthetics and design. It sheds light on African men and women’s historical engagement with visual and material novelty and on their multivalent, substantial, yet often overlooked role in shaping the commercial, political, and artistic trajectories of the global, early modern world.