June Jordan & Ulysses Kay: Faces That Changed the Academy

Denva E. Gallant, a 2023 Rome Prize Fellow in medieval studies, reflects on a new portrait of June Jordan that hangs in the Academy Bar

As we close out Black History Month this year, we share a video celebrating two of the earliest African American winners of the Rome Prize: Ulysses Kay, a 1952 Fellow in musical composition, and June Jordan, a 1971 Fellow in design. Kay spent three years at the Academy, between 1949 and 1952. Jordan, who won the Rome Prize in the category of environmental design, is best known today as a poet.

Telling the story behind why AAR is honoring them with new portraits is Denva E. Gallant, the 2023 Samuel H. Kress Foundation Rome Prize Fellow in medieval studies; Lindsay Harris, our interim Andrew Heiskell Arts Director; and Mark Robbins, the Academy’s President and CEO. The video is narrated by Aliza Wong, the twenty-fifth Director of the American Academy in Rome.

June Jordan is the subject of our spring exhibition, June Jordan, The Poetry of Design, which will open on April 20, 2023.

Watch the Video

Press inquiries

Andrew Mitchell

Director of Communications

212-751-7200, ext. 342

a.mitchell [at] aarome.org (a[dot]mitchell[at]aarome[dot]org)

Maddalena Bonicelli

Rome Press Officer

+39 335 6857707

m.bonicelli.ext [at] aarome.org (m[dot]bonicelli[dot]ext[at]aarome[dot]org)