Olivia K. Young

WEBSITE(S)| OliviaKYoung.com | SpeculativeBlack | House of Trees

Olivia K. Young is an interdisciplinary scholar of African Diaspora Studies whose interests are contemporary art, visual culture, black cultural history, queer theory, black feminisms, performance studies, and disability studies.

Trained in the field of black studies, Young is a graduate of the Department of African Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley with a designated emphasis in Women, Gender & Sexuality. In 2020-21, they were a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of African American Studies at UCLA, in 2019–20 they were a Patricia and Phillip Frost Predoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and in 2019 they were nominated and awarded an inaugural scholar-in-residence fellowship at the Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island, (canceled due to covid).

Young has prioritized collective work in the academy, receiving a 2018 Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program Grant for a collaborative blog called speculative: black art practices of the west and in 2020 participated in Word on the Street a collaborative text-based art project produced and curated by House of Trees.

In their current book project, How the Black Body Bends: Sensorial Distortions in Black Contemporary Art, they analyze the relationship between blackness, sensate formations, and material ‘distortions’ in the artwork of black contemporary artists. In the classroom, they center black cultural histories and modern and contemporary art to broaden students’ understanding of the role visuality plays in structuring narratives of race, gender, sexuality, and disability.

Selected Articles and Essays

2021 “Of Entrapment and Other White Supremist Things.” Miami: Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Exhibition publication for Rats. forthcoming

2018 "Retracing the Contours of Her Figure...Slippages Begin to Appear: Reckoning the Limits of the Archive with Senam Okudzeto’s Large Reclining Nude.” Women & Performance: Sentiment & Sentience: Black Performance since Scenes of Subjection. Edited by Sampada Aranke and Nikolas Oscar Sparks. February 2017.

2018 "Inexhaustible Intimations: An Aesthetic Practice of Metaphorics” Black is a Color. Antenna Gallery. 10 March - 9 April 2018. Exhibition catalogue. New Orleans, Louisiana.

Research Areas

African Diasporic Art


PhD. The University of California, Berkeley

M.A. The University of California, Berkeley

B.A. Emory University

Honors & Awards

2020-2021 The University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of African American Studies

2020-2021 Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island, Inaugurate Scholar-in-Residence, (canceled due to covid)

2019-2020 Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) Patricia and Phillip Frost Predoctoral Fellow

2018-2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital, Arts Writers Blog Grant


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