Dalar Khachaturyans Image courtesy of Ashon Crawley
Ashon Crawley, artist, in his studio

Crawley is a scholar, artist, and associate professor of religious studies and African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia.

Ashon Crawley will be coming to Occidental College from Feb. 16-17 for a special residency. Crawley’s current work is deeply interdisciplinary, touching on Black Studies, Performance Theory and Sound Studies, Philosophy and Theology, and Black Feminist and Queer Theory.

“Professor Crawley's work spans and connects so many different disciplines including Black Studies, Queer Studies, Philosophy and Theology. And on top of this, he is a practicing artist—what an incredible representative of the breadth of the liberal arts!” says Regina Freer, professor of politics and Stafford Ellison Wright Committee member. “We are thrilled that he will spend time with the Oxy community!” 

As part of his residency, Crawley will give a public lecture on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. titled “The Uncategory of Unkindness.” He will also participate in a special arts workshop, “Altars, Made and Unmade,” on Friday, Feb. 17 at 3:30 p.m.

In 2019, Crawley was awarded the Judy Tsou Critical Race Studies Award from the American Musicological Society for his first book, Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (Fordham University Press, 2016). His second book, The Lonely Letters (Duke University Press, 2020), won both the 2020 Believer Book Award for Nonfiction presented by The Believer Magazine and the 2021 Lammy Award in Nonfiction awarded by Lambda Literary.

During Ashon's Fellowship with New City Arts in January 2021, he created various pieces that explore the concepts of sameness and difference and attempt to think about versions of the nothingness of blackness, of blackqueerness. Working with scripture, hymns, concordance and shouting, the various pieces were created by attempting to figure out a way to relate to a religious and spiritual world of plentitude and possibility, the space and complexity and contradiction of Blackpentecostalism.

Created by Occidental’s Black Alumni Organization (BAO), the Stafford Ellison Wright Endowment enables distinguished Black scholars from a variety of fields, artists, elected officials and others to spend time in residence at Occidental each year. BAO members believe that a student’s educational experience will be enriched by in-depth contact with individuals who serve as symbols of excellence.

The Endowment honors Occidental’s first Black graduates, all members of the Class of 1952: Dr. Janet Stafford, George F. Ellison and Barbara Bowman Wright.