The Wildenstein Plattner Institute’s (WPI’s) Romare Bearden Oral History Series explores Bearden’s life, career, and legacy through interviews with scholars, collectors, collaborators, and family members. These accounts are a companion to the forthcoming Romare Bearden Digital Catalogue Raisonné, offering significant insight into Bearden’s personal and professional life.
Diedra Harris-Kelley is an artist, educator, and co-director of the Romare Bearden Foundation, the nonprofit organization responsible for preserving and perpetuating the legacy of acclaimed artist Romare Bearden. Harris-Kelley is also the niece of Bearden’s late wife, Nanette Rohan Bearden. Highlights of Harris-Kelley’s oral history include memories of her childhood on Staten Island with her extended family, including Romare and Nanette; discussions of her education and influences as a formally trained artist; and thought-provoking reflections on how to shape an artist’s public legacy after their passing.
KEYWORDS: Romare Bearden, Nanette Rohan, Romare Bearden Foundation, Johanne Bryant-Reid, Grace Stanislaus, Cinque Gallery, catalogue raisonné, artists’ studios, artists’ estates, experimental art, collage, African-American art movements, Canal Street, St. Martin, Dance Theater of Harlem, art collectors