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María Magdalena Campos-Pons, EADJ Founder

(Photo credit: John Russell/Vanderbilt University)

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons was born in in 1959 in the province of Matanzas, in the town of La Vega, Cuba. She currently lives in Nashville, TN, and is the Cornelius Vanderbilt Endowed Chair Professor of Fine Arts, as well as an artist and the Founder of EADJ. She grew up on a sugar plantation in a family with Nigerian, Hispanic and Chinese roots. Her Nigerian ancestors were brought to Cuba as slaves in the 19th century and passed on traditions, rituals, and beliefs. Her polyglot heritage profoundly influences Campos-Pons’ artistic practice, which combines diverse media including photography, performance, painting, sculpture, film, and video. Her work is autobiographical, investigating themes of history, memory, gender and religion and how they inform identity. Through deeply poetic and haunting imagery, Campos-Pons evokes stories of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, indigo, and sugar plantations, Catholic and Santeria religious practices, and revolutionary uprisings.

In the late 1980s, Campos-Pons taught at the prestigious Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana and gained an international reputation as an exponent of the New Cuban Art movement that arose in opposition to Communist repression on the island. In 1992, she emigrated to Boston, where she taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts for 24 years. She has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada, among other distinguished institutions.  She has presented over 30 solo performances commissioned by institutions including the Guggenheim and The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. She has participated in the Venice Biennale, the Dakar Biennale, Johannesburg Biennial, Documenta 14, the Guangzhou Triennial and is included in Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA and Prospect.4 Triennial.  In October 2017 she was awarded the endowed Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Campos-Pons’ works are in over 30 museum collections including the Smithsonian Institution, The Whitney, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Canada, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Perez Art Museum, Miami and the Fogg Art Museum.”

– Gallery Wendi Norris
San Francisco, CA

Engage with her work:

The Engine

The “Engine” is our team, partners, and collaborators who have come together to dream and make this project a reality. We thank everyone in this list for their continuous contributions to EADJ:


  • Dr. Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, EADJ Founder
  • Dr. Claudine Taaffe, EADJ Associate Director
  • Danielle Myers, EADJ Program Manager and Designer
  • Simon Tatum, EADJ Project Coordinator
  • Anaïs Daly, Former EADJ Program Manager (2021–2023)

EADJ Partners

  • Mark Scala, Chief Curator, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN
  • Jamaal B. Sheats, Director and Curator of Fisk University Galleries, Assistant Professor of Art, Fisk University, Nashville, TN
  • Katie Delmez, Curator, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN
  • Samar Ali, Founding President and CEO, Millions of Conversations

EADJ Advisory Group

  • Edward (Ted) Fischer, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Anthropology, Professor of Management, Professor of Medicine, Health and Society, Director of the Center for Latin American Studies, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Susan H. Edwards, Former Executive Director, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN
  • Brian R. Jobe, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Tri-Star Arts, Artist, Nashville, TN
  • Jane Landers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History, Director of the Slave Societies Digital Archive, Director of the Initiative for the Study of Slave Societies, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Mary Ann Canton, Fine Arts Gallery Interim Curator, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Kevin D. Murphy, Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities and
    Professor and Chair of History of Art, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Ann Marie Owens, Senior Content and Planning Specialist, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Kathryn Royster, Digital Content Strategist, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Doris Sommer, Ira Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, Director of Graduate Studies in Spanish, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  • Phillip Townsend, 2020 Engine of Art Democracy and Justice, Fellow; Co-Founder, Neon Queen Collective; Doctoral Candidate, Department of Art + Art History, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Emily Weiner, Interim Curator of the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery, Artist, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Caroline Randall Williams, Writer-in-Residence, Medicine, Health, and Society, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Raquelle K. Bostow, 2020 EADJ Fall 2020 Project Manager, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN;
  • Kira Braham, 2021 EADJ Spring 2021 Project Manager, Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons’s Performance Class, 2018, Vanderbilt University