ATLANTA (Sept. 21, 2017) — Groundbreaking and multi-award-winning filmmaker Julie Dash, M.F.A., brings her unique tapestry of bold and boundary-spanning storytelling to Spelman College as the Distinguished Professor in the Arts.
As a member of the faculty in the new Department of Art & Visual Culture, the filmmaker will use her distinctive approach to visual art to help develop the new documentary filmmaking major. In keeping with Spelman’s focus on interdisciplinary studies, Dash will engage with faculty across several disciplines as she teaches and mentors documentary film majors in the yearlong program.
“Julie is a sophisticated storyteller, a pioneering filmmaker and that rare Black woman who has made films over several decades that span many types of television projects and installations as well as films,” said Ayoka Chenzira, Ph.D., Spelman division chair for the arts, chair of the Department of Art & Visual Culture and founding director of the Digital Moving Image Salon. “Julie has made an indelible mark on the world and continues to do so while being grounded in a deep love of Black culture, a deep commitment to our history, a deep respect for Black women, and a deep desire to be a part of shaping the next generation of Black women filmmakers.”
Dash’s passion for telling cinematic stories with authenticity was evidenced when she broke through racial and gender boundaries with her 1991, Sundance award-winning film, “Daughters of the Dust.” The film’s release earned Dash a place in history as the first African-American woman to have a wide theatrical release of her feature film. She has continued her work as a trailblazing and in-demand artist by writing and directing for CBS, BET, Encore, Starz, Showtime, MTV and HBO. Dash has directed a number of award-winning films and served as a film director for museums, theater, music videos, commercials for global brands and documentaries. She directed multiple episodes of the television drama “Queen Sugar” for the OWN network. “Queen Sugar” returns to the air October 3.
The consistent thread throughout Dash’s multifaceted work as an independent filmmaker, author and educator is her mastery of original, daring and visionary storytelling, which she will use to help shape Spelman students’ experiences in using their voices to tell their own stories.
“I was very attracted to working with talented young women of color and getting in on the ground floor of a program with so much focus on digital arts, technology and culture as it pertains to Black women and the African diaspora,” said Dash. “I jumped at the opportunity to work with the remarkable Digital Moving Image Salon, which is both exciting and different from any other program at higher education institutions. I also look forward to exploring with the students the many different approaches to documentary filmmaking that the department encourages.”
Dash plans to place an emphasis on students developing an understanding of composition as a mechanism for effective storytelling. In addition, she will integrate various technologies into the classes, including the growing area of mobile filmmaking to help students tell evocative narratives. Dash’s students will use mobile phones and tablets to ensure they can take advantage of virtually every opportunity to capture content.
“I am grateful that the ancestors placed me in the precise moment in time to learn from an incredible storyteller like Julie Dash,” said Eva Dickerson, C’2019, a double major in economics and comparable women’s studies. “She is already teaching us the importance of controlling our own narrative and doing so in a unique way. Professor Dash teaches students that we have a responsibility to tell our stories and others’ stories in an authentic voice.”
The Office of the President, the Office of the Provost and the Department of Art & Visual Culture present the campus talk, “Smuggling Daydreams into Reality: An Evening with Filmmaker and Distinguished Professor Julie Dash,” Thursday, Sept. 28, at 6:30 p.m., in the Baldwin Burroughs Theater. The event is free and open to the public.
Press release via Spelman College