Rita Keegan

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Rita Keegan
Rita Morrison

1949 (age 73–74)
EducationHigh School of Art and Design, San Francisco Art Institute

Rita Keegan (born 1949) is an American-born artist, lecturer and archivist, based in England since the late 1970s. She is a multi-media artist whose work uses video and digital technologies.[1] Keegan is best known for her involvement with in the UK's Black Arts Movement in the 1980s and her work documenting artists of colour in Britain.


Born Rita Morrison[2] in the Bronx, New York City,[3] to a Dominican mother and Canadian father,[4] she described her upbringing in the Bronx as having "more in common with an English/Commonwealth background".[5] She graduated from the High School of Art and Design focusing on illustration and costume design, then obtained a fine arts degree at the San Francisco Art Institute,[6] where her teachers included the photographer Imogen Cunningham and the African-American artist Mary O'Neill.[5] Keegan moved to London, England, in the late 1970s.[1]

Keegan originally trained as a painter but in the 1980s begin to incorporate lens-based media, using the photocopier and computer in both 2D and installation work.[7] In 1984 she worked at "Community Copyart" in London. The GLC-funded organisation was an affordable resource centre for voluntary groups to create they own print material in addition to working with artists who wanted to use the photocopier as a form of printmaking.[8]

Keegan was a founding member of the artists' collectives Brixton Art Gallery in 1982, and later Women's Work and Black Women in View. She went on to co-curate Mirror Reflecting Darkly, Brixton Art Gallery's first exhibition by the Black Women Artists collective.[9] From 1985 Keegan was a staff member at the Women Artists Slide Library (WASL), where she established and managed the Women Artists of Colour Index.[10] She was Director of the African and Asian Visual Arts Archive from 1992 to 1994.[2] In 2021 she had a solo exhibition Somewhere Between There and Here at the South London Gallery[11]

Keegan taught New Media and Digital Diversity at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she also helped establish the digital-media undergraduate course in the Historical and Cultural Studies department.[2][9]

Selected exhibitions[edit]

  • 2021: Somewhere Between There and Here solo exhibition at the South London Gallery[11]
  • 2006: Transformations, Lewisham Arthouse and Horniman Museum, London (solo)[12]
  • 1997: Transforming the Crown: African, Asian and Caribbean Artists in Britain, 1966-1996, Studio Museum in Harlem, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and Caribbean Cultural Center (Manhattan), New York[2][13]
  • 1998: Family Histories: Eating with Our Memories, Sleeping with the Ancestors, 198 Gallery, London (solo)[2]
  • 1995: Time Machine: Ancient Egypt and Contemporary Art, InIVA and British Museum, London[14]
  • 1993: Rites of Passage, ICA, London (solo)
  • 1992: Trophies of Empire, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol and Bluecoat, Liverpool curated by Keith Piper[15]
  • 1992: White Noise: Artists Working with Sound, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
  • 1991: Four X 4 curated by Eddie Chambers, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton[16]
  • 1991: Family Album: An exhibition by Brixton Black Women Artists, Copyart Resource Centre, London
  • 1990: Let the Canvas Come to Life with Dark Faces, Bluecoat
  • 1985: Mirror Reflecting Darkly: Black Women's Art, Brixton Art Gallery, London[15][17]
  • 1983: Women's Work, Brixton Art Gallery, London[15]


  1. ^ a b Cutting Edge, The Women's Research Group, ed. (1999). Desire By Design: Body, Territories and New Technologies. I.B.Tauris. p. 237. ISBN 9781860642807.
  2. ^ a b c d e Cheddie, Janice (2002). "Keegan, Rita". In Donnell, Alison (ed.). Companion to Contemporary Black British Culture. Routledge. p. 167. ISBN 9781134700257.
  3. ^ "Rita Keegan" (YouTube video, posted 9 August 2013), SamtheWheels, 2008.
  4. ^ Chambers, Eddie (1991). Four x 4: installations by sixteen artists in four galleries. Bristol: E. Chambers.
  5. ^ a b Rendell, Clare (October 1987). "Actual Lives of Women Artists - Rita Keegan 19887". Women Artists Slide Library Journal (19): 10–11.
  6. ^ Buckman, David, ed. (2006). Dictionary of Artists in Britain Since 1945. Art Dictionaries. ISBN 9780953260959.
  7. ^ Taylor, Stuart (10 January 1997). "Rita Keegan on Digital Diversity and the Colour of Computers". Mute. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  8. ^ Baines, Jess (2015). "Nurturing Dissent? Community Printshops in 1970s London". In Uldam, Julie; Vestergaard, Anne (eds.). Civic Engagement and Social Media: Political Participation Beyond Protest. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 190. ISBN 9781137434166.
  9. ^ a b "TrAIN Conversation - Françoise Dupré and Rita Keegan in conversation with Deborah Cherry - BRIXTON CALLING!". University of the Arts London, Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  10. ^ Arya, Rina (2012). Chila Kumari Burman: Shakti, Sexuality and Bindi Girls. KT Press. ISBN 978-0953654130.
  11. ^ a b Morris, Kadish (11 September 2021). "Rita Keegan: the return of black British art's forgotten pioneer". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  12. ^ "Exhibitions and Special Exhibits since 1948". Horniman Museum and Gardens. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  13. ^ Holland Cotter, "ART REVIEW; This Realm of Newcomers, This England", The New York Times, 24 October 1997.
  14. ^ "Time Machine: Ancient Egypt and Contemporary Art". InIVA. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  15. ^ a b c "Keegan, Rita - Bibliography and Exhibitions". African American Visual Artists Database.
  16. ^ Chambers, Eddie (1991). Four X 4. ISBN 0951329014. Diaspora Artists.
  17. ^ "Mirror Reflecting Darkly – Black Womens Art – Womens Work 4". Brixton Art Gallery Archive. Retrieved 1 December 2015.

Further reading[edit]

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