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LaMar Gayles (a native son of the South Side of Chicago) is an archaeologist, independent curator, material culture scholar, and technical art historian. He comes to the PSP program after completing a MA in Museum and Exhibition Studies from University of Illinois at Chicago’s MUSE program while holding two separate positions: Archive and Collections Manager at the South Side Community Art Center and Executive Director at the Union Street Gallery. Gayles earned a Cum Laude BA with a triple major (art history, archaeology, and ethnic studies) from St. Olaf College. He has researched and curated exhibitions on Black American jewelry and its historical progressions from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first century, including the 2021 exhibition “Divine Legacies in Black Jewelry and Metals” at the National Museum of Ornamental Metals. Gayles’s research methodology combines archaeometry, arts-based research, conservation science, scientific instrumentation, art historical analysis, ethnography historical reproduction, technical studies, and qualitative research to explore material and visual culture.
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TOPIC: The preservation and interpretation of African and African American jewelry from West Africa (19th century) to the Southern plantation, through Reconstruction, the Great Migration, Black Power movements, and 21st-century museum exhibitions
Gayles’s research will center around conservation research, scientific instrumentation, and technical studies on Black American Material Culture—specifically adornment and jewelry made from found objects, glass, metals, and stones—tracing the historical trajectories of Black Diasporic jewelry and adornment in the Americas from the Before Middle Passage to the present day. Gayles is specifically interested in understanding the materiality and socio-cultural functionality of adornment in the Black Diaspora as tools to showcase individual identity and present cultural mnemonics.