ReSignifications, a groundbreaking thematic art exhibition curated by Nigerian playwright, director, filmmaker, scholar and New York University Professor of Drama and Africana studies Awam Amkpa, was inspired by the “Blackamoor” statues within Villa La Pietra’s own art collections, which depict Africans in various states of service and decoration.

Since 2012, artists from Africa, Europe and the United States engaged in residencies at NYU Florence in order to create art in response to the Blackamoors, juxtaposing a selection of three-dimensional objects, figurines, and sculptures with reinterpretations and counter narratives from a spectrum of contemporary artistic angles. Artists contributing work include Carrie Mae Weems, Fred Wilson, Mickalene Thomas, Zanele Muholi, Omar Diop, Peju Alatise and Mary Sibande, among many others. ReSignifications will be on view at Villa La Pietra, Fondazione Biagiotti Progetto Arte and the Bardini Museum in Florence.

“ReSignifications is a perfect illustration of what’s possible at a truly global university. We were able to derive inspiration from items of cultural significance outside the United States, and then use them as a catalyst for the generation of meaningful art, scholarship, and debate that are legitimately global,” said Amkpa. “The subject matter couldn’t be more urgent given the challenges the world faces in terms of the imagery of race and social justice, from African immigration along the Italian coast to the acts of civil unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore. It’s our role as a global university not to shy away from these issues, but to use everything in our arsenal to face them head on.”