AU mourns death of graduate student Jalyn Imani Stallworth

Stallworth was in her first year of art history master’s program

AU mourns death of graduate student Jalyn Imani Stallworth

The Katzen Arts Center at American University. 

AU students and the University’s art history program are mourning the death of Jalyn Imani Stallworth, who died on March 23, according to a memo from Fanta Aw, the University’s vice president of campus life and inclusive excellence.

“Jalyn was a bright talent and promising young scholar of contemporary African-American art whose impact on AU far outweighs the short time she was here,” Aw wrote. “She touched those who knew her with her deep knowledge and extraordinary ability to enrich conversations with her insights and curiosity.” 

Stallworth was in her first year as an art history master’s candidate in the College of Arts and Sciences graduate program. She received a degree in African American History from the University of Florida, where she graduated in 2018.

Nika Elder, a professor in the art department, taught Stallworth at both AU and UF. 

“There was something that united all of Jalyn’s work for me—one of the things I appreciated most about her as a student: she took risks,” said Elder in a tribute delivered to the art department. “She took risks in her choice of topics, in her interpretations, and in her research. She was creative.”

Michael Quituisaca, a fellow graduate art history student, remembered Stallworth’s passion for ensuring representation of black voices within discussions of art history. 

“I really love that she always spoke her mind, especially when it came to issues about race and black culture,” Quituisaca said. “In art history that tends to get leftover because the field is so predominantly white.”

Stallworth hoped to continue that passion by becoming a curator, “focusing on African American art and helping to build a space for it within the museum,” Elder said.

Wherever Stallworth worked, Quituisaca said, “she was ready to crash into that institution and change everything.” 

Quituisaca hoped Stallworth’s story would encourage others to reach out to people in their classes and listen to their stories and passions.

“Talk to the people in your program,” Quituisaca said. “Even if it’s small, just ask them what their ideas are. What do they want to do? Where do they want to go with this? Sometimes you will get the most amazing answers from the quietest people.”  

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