CAA News Today

Affiliated Society News: October

posted by October 18, 2021


Association of Historians of Nineteenth-Century Art) (AHNCA)

Announcements 

AHNCA announces the winners of their Best Paper Prize at their Graduate Symposium. The Eighteenth Annual Graduate Student Symposium in Nineteenth-Century Art, co-sponsored by the Association of Historians of Nineteenth-Century Art (AHNCA) and the Dahesh Museum of Art was held virtually on September 25–26, 2021. Ten participants, representing future directions for nineteenth-century art history, presented their dissertation research. After prolonged deliberation because of the uniform high quality of the presentations, the jury awarded two Dahesh Prizes of $1000 each, funded by the Mervat Zahid Cultural Foundation, to Lieske Huits of the University of Cambridge and the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Sean Kramer of the University of Michigan.

Events 

October 20, 2021, 7pm EDT – Upcoming Virtual Salon: The Art Market in the Nineteenth Century 

Please join AHNCA on Wednesday, October 20th, at 7PM EDT for their October Virtual Salon on The Art Market in the Nineteenth Century. This series of online events is co-sponsored by the Association of Historians of Nineteenth-Century Art (AHNCA) and the Dahesh Museum of Art. 

For this event, AHNCA will host three specialists, Véronique Chagnon-Burke, Anne Helmreich, and Simon Kell, who will discuss this increasingly important area of nineteenth-century studies. Their discussion will be followed by a Q&A and then a break-out room where attendees can socialize informally. 

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register here  


Mid-America College Art Association (MACAA)

Opportunities 

Call for art submissions: MACAA Members Virtual Exhibition 

MACAA invites its members to submit works of art for consideration to the Members Virtual Exhibition. This exhibition is in coordination with the 2022 Mid-America College Art Association 

(MACAA) Virtual Conference, titled “Defining the Undefined: Art, Education, Technology and the Mapping of Ourselves,” hosted by Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. The call is open to all mediums and themes. This exhibition, hosted by MACAA via a virtual gallery, is an opportunity to display the incredible work made by MACAA members.  

For more information on submission visit this link. Deadline is December 1, 2021 

 

 


   

Bibliographical Society of America (BSA)

Events  

October 21, 2021, 7pm EDT – Virtual Event: Bluestockings Bookstore: Empowering Queer and Activist Communities  

Founded in 1999, Bluestockings Bookstore has served for many years as a cultural hub, activist network, and vibrant community space on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Entirely all-volunteer run, there are 80+ volunteers, a rotating weekly schedule, and a worker’s collective at the decision-making core. Home to over 300 events a year, Bluestockings offers poetry open-mics, letter writing to prisoners, zine-making workshops, book launches, reading clubs. Panelists Malav Kanuga, Emiliano Lemus, and Joan Dark will share from their personal experiences as former and current members of the Bluestockings collective, offering an in-depth exploration of the space and its pivotal role for queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming individuals. 

Register for the event here.  

November 1, 2021, 3pm EDT – Collecting, Knowledge, and Power: Perspectives from Latin America 

December 9, 2021, 3pm EDT – Collecting and Preserving Colonial Latin America Materials Today: A Roundtable Discussion 

The Bibliographic Society of America’s fall series explores the hemispheric histories and contemporary dynamics of collecting and preserving Latin American library and archival materials. Featuring scholars and library and archive professionals based in Latin America and the U.S., the series aims to promote dialogue among scholars and practitioners while confronting ways in which power dynamics have shaped and continue to shape collecting and stewardship practices today. 

To view past virtual events produced by the Bibliographic Society of America, visit their YouTube page 

 

Filed under: Affiliated Societies

book cover

Cover of The Eye, the Hand, the Mind: 100 Years of the College Art Association, edited by Susan Ball (Rutgers, 2011) featuring detail of Faith Ringgold, The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles, 1996

Join CAA for a  virtual event celebrating the anniversary of its publication, The Eye, the Hand, the Mind: 100 Years of the College Art Association on November 4, 2021 at 6pm EST.  

Published in 2010, this book documents and examines over a century of CAA’s history. The event features Susan Ball, editor of the publication, and author Julia Sienkewicz, who will discuss their contributions to the project and how topics and issues have shifted and changed in the last decade. A conversation between CAA CEO and Executive Director, Meme Omogbai, and art historian, Anne Higonnet, will reflect on these insights and CAA’s plans for the future. This conversation also will honor Robert L. Herbert, the dedicatee of the book, and will discuss how his legacy has impacted the field and so many at CAA. 

Prior registration is required and available here. Closer to the event, you will receive a link and instructions to join. The live event will be recorded and subsequently available on CAA’s website. 

Following this event, CAA will release a series of short videos from authors discussing their specific chapters within the book, including Julia A. Sienkewicz, Judith Brodsky, Ellen Levy, and Karen Leader. Their presentations will cover a range of topics concerning CAA’s history, from advocacy and feminist initiatives to CAA’s past exhibition programs and conferences.   

About the book: 

Susan Ball, editor. The Eye, the Hand, the Mind: 100 Years of the College Art Association (Rutgers University Press, 2011). Copies are available for purchase here. 

In 1911 the College Art Association began with a small group of college art teachers whose single mission was to promote “art interests in all divisions of American colleges and universities.” One hundred years later the CAA, as it is commonly known, is as diverse as the decades that witnessed its maturity and growth. As leadership and membership grew dynamically, art and art history professors were joined by non-academic visual artists and art historians, museum professionals, art librarians, visual resource curators, independent scholars and artists, collectors, dealers, conservators, and non-college educators. 

The Eye, the Hand, the Mind is a collaborative journey, filled with pictorial mementoes and enlivening stories and anecdotes. In these essays readers discover the important role CAA played in major issues in higher education such as curriculum development, preservation of world monuments, workforce issues and market equity, intellectual property and free speech, capturing conflicts and reconciliations inherent among artists and art historians, pedagogical approaches and critical interpretations/interventions as played out in association publications, annual conferences, advocacy efforts, and governance.

Celebrating the centennial of CAA members and milestones, Susan Ball and renowned contributors honor the organization’s complex history which, in part, also represents many learned societies and the humanities over the last one hundred years. 

About the speakers: 

Susan Ball, Ph.D.:  Susan Ball edited The Eye, the Hand, the MindBall holds a Ph.D. in art and architectural history from Yale University and holds over 35 years of professional experience – as a professor, scholar, museum professional and nonprofit agency director. Ball served as Interim Director of Programs at the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). Prior, she was Executive Director at the College Art Association, Professor of Art History at the University of Delaware, the Director of Government and Foundation Affairs at the Art Institute of Chicago, and a consultant with the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation. As an author and editor, she has contributed significant works of scholarship in her field, such as The Profitable Artist: A Handbook for All Artists in the Literary, Media, Performing, and Visual Arts with Peter Cobb and Felicity Hogan (Allworth Press, 2011), and has served on many boards. 

Julia A. Sienkewicz, PhD: In The Eye, the Hand, the Mind, Sienkewicz authored the chapter, “Uniting the Arts and the Academy: A History of the CAA Annual Conference.”  Sienkewicz, an Associate Professor of Art History at Roanoke College, holds both an MA and PhD from the University of Illinois and a BA from Mt. Holyoke College. She is the author of Epic Landscapes: Benjamin Henry Latrobe and the Art of Watercolor (2019). Currently, she is at work on the monograph Forms of White Hegemony: Transnational Sculpture, Racialized Identity, and the Torch of Civilization, 1836-1865, research that has been recognized with the award of a Terra Foundation Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. She recently edited a special issue of the Art History Pedagogy and Practice journal entitled, “Teaching and Learning the Art History of the United States.” Sienkewicz served in leadership roles at CAA for more than a decade, most recently concluding a term on the Board of Directors as the VP for Committees. 

Anne Higonnet, Ph.D.: Anne Higonnet is now Professor of Art History at Barnard College of Columbia University. She received her BA from Harvard College in 1980 and her PhD from Yale University in 1988 under Robert Herbert.  Her work has been supported by Getty, Guggenheim, and Social Science Research Council fellowships, as well as by grants from the Mellon, Howard and Kress Foundations. In 2019-2020 she was a Fellow at the Harvard-Radcliffe Institute.  She has published many essays, five print books, and two book-scale digital projects, is a prize-winning teacher, and has lectured widely, including in the Live Arts program of the Met Museum.  One of her courses, Clothing, is among the most popular at Barnard and Columbia. She is now writing a book under contract with Norton: Three Fashion Stars and the Revolution They Wore; Joséphine Bonaparte, Juliette Récamier, Térésia Tallien.   

Meme Omogbai, CAA Executive Director and CEO: Before joining CAA, Omogbai served as a member and past board chair of the New Jersey Historic Trust, one of four landmark entities dedicated to preservation of the state’s historic and cultural heritage, and Montclair State University’s Advisory Board. Named one of 25 Influential Black Women in Business by The Network Journal, Meme has over twenty-five years of experience in corporate, government, higher education, and museum sectors. As the first American of African descent to chair the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), Omogbai led an initiative to rebrand the AAM as a global, inclusive alliance. While COO and trustee, she spearheaded a major transformation in operating performance at the Newark Museum. During her time as deputy assistant chancellor of New Jersey’s Department of Higher Education, Omogbai received legislative acknowledgment and was recognized with the New Jersey Meritorious Service award for her work on college affordability initiatives for families. Omogbai received her MBA from Rutgers University and holds a CPA. She did postgraduate work at Harvard University’s executive management program and has earned the designation of Chartered Global Management Accountant. She studied global museum executive leadership at the J. Paul Getty Trust Museum Leadership Institute, where she also served on the faculty. 

Filed under: Uncategorized

Read the PDF: Dismantling conference statement

The AHA has released a statement condemning the harassment and intimidation of participants, organizers, and university sponsors of the virtual conference “Dismantling Global Hindutva: Multidisciplinary Perspectives.” “Conferences, both in person and across digital platforms, are critical to the exchange of ideas among historians and our colleagues in other disciplines,” the AHA wrote. “Disruptions to a conference represent an assault on the principle of academic freedom, and the AHA stands unequivocally with participants in this conference and its sponsors in their right to exchange ideas without fear of threats and intimidation.”

To date, 15 organizations have signed onto this statement.

Filed under: Advocacy, Annual Conference

Visitors in the Musée du Louvre in 2020 © Antoine Mongodin

Visitors in the Musée du Louvre in 2020 © Antoine Mongodin

In the spring of 2021, the CAA Museum Committee initiated a survey of our members for the purposes of revising current directions and charting new ones that respond to updated knowledge of their concerns.

The results indicate that the Museum Committee‘s previous and planned Conference sessions and professional development workshops in 2021–2022 are appropriate, that they should publicize their presence more, and should use these projects and others to strengthen connections with professional museum groups; encourage diversity, decolonization, and the use of museums to educate; in addition to fight for salary equity. In this endeavor, they ask any interested CAA members to join and help in this mission.

Key Takeaways of the Report

In general, respondents likely appreciate the recent focuses and activities of the Committee, yet wish they would also move forward in new directions.

Both the CAA panels and professional development workshops should be continued and can be used to achieve the following desired goals culled from survey responses:

  • Help publicize the Museum Committee more broadly.
  • Give museum and curatorial studies students, young professionals, and museum professionals, particularly those from underrepresented groups, necessary resources as they start their careers, and mentor persons who want to become museum professionals or teach museum/curatorial studies, including in concert with art history coursework.
  • Support the function of museums as pedagogical sites, especially during the processes of decolonizing and defining decolonization.
  • Develop and disperse a list of curatorial/museum studies programs in American universities, including those offered on conjunction with art history training, and perhaps have a dedicated space on CAA’s website or another location with a link on the CAA website homepage to publicly disperse this list.
  • Renew efforts to craft and chart the implementation of policy statements and best-practice guidelines particularly concerning salary equity and unpaid internships, among similar issues relevant to the field, and to do so in concert with professional museum organizations, such as the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC), American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG). One way to do this is to have present and future Museum Committee members actively reach out to persons within professional museum groups to create joint projects.

Check out the conclusions in the full report.

Filed under: Artists, CAA News, CWA Picks, Exhibitions

CWA Picks: August 2021

posted by August 03, 2021

The August “Picks” from the Committee on Women in the Arts respond to the danger and uncertainty that characterizes the contemporary moment and explore how gender figures into the possibility of imagining new forms of collectivity.

Malgorzata Markiewicz, "Medusa: Sensing-With and Thinking-With the World," 2021. Print on textile. Photo by Grzesiek Mart

Malgorzata Markiewicz, “Medusa: Sensing-With and Thinking-With the World,” 2021. Print on textile. Photo by Grzesiek Mart

Mona Hatoum
April 16 – September 12, 2021
Institut Valencià d’Art Moderne

Mona Hatoum received the Institut Valencià d’Art Moderne’s Julio González prize in 2020, and this exhibition is a tribute to the influential body of work she has created over the last two decades. Across her installations, sculptures, drawings, and textiles, Hatoum’s investment in materializing spatial concepts as instruments of power asserts itself with a poetic and severe consistency. This spatial refrain emerges from the histories she inherits as an Arab woman, but Hatoum is also committed to showing that oppression can be mapped across the globe. Empty and haunted, ephemeral and permanent, each of Hatoum’s pieces creates an aperture for seeing and sensing the pervasive threat of vulnerability that cannot be cordoned off with neat geographical boundaries.


Double Trouble
July 8 – September 21, 2021
Institute of Contemporary Art of Maine College of Art

The double has often meant trouble for women, as it can encapsulate an assembly-line definition of woman and a Stepford-wife loss of control. This exhibition, however, features the work of five artists who explore the double as a resource for upending habitual definitions of the self without indulging in the fantasy that one can leave historical patterns behind. Creating echoes of bright colors and bold graphic forms, the artwork in Double Trouble is immersed in Pop-like patterns–wallpaper is a recurring motif–as if to watch for the differences that slip free from repetitions.


Malgorzata Markiewicz: Medusa: Sensing-with and thinking-with the world
July 15 – September 30, 2021
Triangle, Riverside, Illinois

Malgorzata Markiewicz’s Medusa makes the production of textiles a form of feminist world-making. Slowly, persistently, intentionally, over seven months of the Covid-19 health emergency, Medusa’s crocheted body emerged, spreading with its fifty-feet long tentacles into the space, first from Markiewicz’s home in Kraków, Poland, and then into her studio. Markiewicz made Medusa with three double-warp fabrics specific to Podlasie, a region in the northeast of Poland. The figure of Medusa stands at the center of this exhibition, masked and regal. Her densely textured form also appears in a film, walking across a meadow and through a forest, and in a series of photographs that stage a liberating journey that moves away from the fear, disgust, and shame traditionally associated with Medusa and toward a new feminist way of sensing-with and thinking-with with the world.


New Time: Art and Feminisms in the 21st Century
August 28 – January 30, 2022
Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archives

New Time: Art and Feminisms in the 21st Century is a major survey exploring recent feminist practices in contemporary art. Rather than defining feminist art, New Time reveals all that the category can encompass as artists respond to the unfolding of history in the present. Although artworks made since 2000 are the primary focus, the objects and installations on view span several generations, mediums, geographies, and political sensibilities. New affinities emerge—the silhouettes of Kara Walker resonate with the sculpture of Kiki Smith—and convey the heterogeneous, intergenerational, and gender-fluid nature of feminist practices today.


Louise Bourgeois, Freud’s Daughter
May 21, 2021 – September 12, 2021
The Jewish Museum, New York

Louise Bourgeois viewed her artistic practice as a form of psychoanalysis. Rather than relegating that claim to a footnote or a biographical aside, this exhibition makes it central. Freud’s Daughter places Bourgeois’s original psychoanalytic writings, which include dream recordings and process notes, in dialogue with 40 works of art. These texts, many of which have not been seen before, become their own form of artmaking. They attest to Bourgeois’s onerous, often lyrical, and profoundly feminist struggle to loosen the Oedipal confines placed around women’s capacities to imagine and materialize different forms of feeling.


Wangechi Mutu: I Am Speaking, Are You Listening?
May 7 – November 7, 2021
Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco

Wangechi Mutu’s I Am Speaking, Are You Listening? intervenes in the Legion of Honor’s homage to the classical imaginary of Euro-American culture. Many of her gorgeous sculptures portray earthy hybrid beauties who stand for the vulnerable physicality western culture systemically inflicts on people of African descent. Vibrant, damaged, and thoughtful survivors of colonial extraction, Mutu’s figures rhyme with the museum’s canonical objects but also register the pathologized differences Black bodies are made to bear. The Legion of Honor is known for Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker (1904), which dominates its atrium entrance, and in his field of vision, Mutu has placed bronze sculptures of corpses covered with opaque blankets that suggest a crime scene. Except for the hands with polished nails and the feet decorated with red stilettos that stick out from the edges of the blankets, the bodies are not visible. But the feminized excesses—one of the artist’s prominent themes—evoke other possibilities for thinking that Mutu has begun to create through her dialogue with histories of willed silence.


Eileen Agar: Angel of Anarchy
May 19 – August 29, 2021
Whitechapel Gallery, London

This definitive retrospective of the British-Argentinian artist Eileen Forrester Agar (1899–1991) demonstrates just how much her work absorbed and foresaw the twentieth century’s wide array of aesthetic innovations. Agar was included in the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition, and her rebellious oeuvre certainly captures its feminist potential, but Angel of Anarchy resists the impulse to identify her work only or primarily through Surrealism. Exhibiting over 150 artworks and newly discovered archival material, Angel of Anarchy captures Agar’s nimble travels through artistic mediums, movements, and hierarchies to better see the bright, undulating landscapes of erotic anarchy she created in their wake.


Pauline Curnier Jardin, Fat to Ashes
April 12 – September 19, 2021
Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin

In 2019, the French artist Pauline Curnier Jardin won the Preis de Nationalgalerie, and the film installation Fat to Ashes lives up to the epic scale that might be associated with such an honor. In the historic halls of the Hamburger Banhof, Jardin has created a large-scale amphitheater with material that looks like pie dough—edible, soft, and supple. Inside the arena is a bright red seating area, and the elevated screen appears amidst draped fabrics of translucent pink. The film interweaves three scenes: the procession of St. Agatha in Sicily, the slaughter of a pig, and the carnival in Cologne. Jardin’s cinematic triptych, with its sensual, tactile visuality, portrays the excess and death swirling around the center of collective existence.


Lynn Hershman Leeson: Twisted
June 30 – October 3, 2021
New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York

Twisted is Lynn Hershman Leeson’s first solo exhibition in New York City and tracks her prescient engagement with technology—its sinister and generative impact on corporeal life. The exhibition displays Leeson’s drawings (many of which have never been seen before) and wax sculptures from the 1960s, and together they express her interest in the body’s porous boundaries and detachable parts. Twisted of course includes Roberta Breitmore (1973–1978), the well-known performance series that exemplifies feminist art’s look into the empty heart of identity. A new multi-media installation, Infinity Engine (2014–present), is also part of Twisted. Commissioned by ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Infinity Engine is a simulacrum of a genetics laboratory that replicates its world of science, technology, and self. “Twisted” is a great title for this exhibition: it evokes a sinister sickness, cords, the strands of a DNA molecule, and collaboration. Working with scientists, Leeson revitalizes the historical connection between art and scientific research, but her primary collaborators have always been viewers. She addresses her audience with her accessible message that technology does not have to cancel out the human, but can actually be part of realizing its ethical potential, and creates generous invitations for a participatory response.


 

Filed under: Artists, CAA News, CWA Picks, Exhibitions

We’re pleased to announce the appointment of two new editors for CAA publications: Christy Anderson, was selected to be Editor-in-Chief of The Art Bulletin. Balbir Singh will take the post as Reviews Editor of Art Journal. They begin their three-year terms July 1, 2022. Learn more about their work below.

EDITOR BIOGRAPHIES

Christy Anderson | Incoming Editor-in-Chief of The Art Bulletin

Christy Anderson Christy Anderson is an architectural historian with a special interest in the buildings of Renaissance and Baroque Europe. Professor Anderson has taught at Yale University, the Courtauld Institute, MIT, and the University of Toronto. At Yale she received a Morse Faculty Fellowship as well as numerous teaching prizes. She received her Ph.D. from the School of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a Kress Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art and later as a Research Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford University, she studied the annotations made by the English architect Inigo Jones (1573–1652) in his collection of treatises and humanist literature. This work on literacy, architectural language, and the construction of the professional architect appeared in her book Inigo Jones and the Classical Tradition (Cambridge, 2006).

 

Learn more about The Art Bulletin.

Balbir Singh | Incoming Reviews Editor of Art Journal

Balbir SinghBalbir Singh’s scholarship focuses on the convergence of racial, gendered, and religious embodiment, with migration and policing under violent conditions of imperial and domestic security technologies. She is at work on her first book, “Militant Bodies: Violence and Visual Culture under Islamophobia,” which is rooted in questions that center post-9/11 racial and religious hyper-policing of Muslims and Sikhs, especially as they relate to bodily comportment and the donning of religious garments. Additionally, she is beginning research on a second book project — “Whose Terror? Vexed Attachments and the Contradictions of Freedom.”

Learn more about Art Journal.

We’re delighted to announce fourteen scholars have been awarded Terra Foundation for American Art Research Travel Grants in 2021. 

These grants provide support to doctoral, postdoctoral, and senior scholars from both the US and outside the US for research topics dedicated to the art and visual culture of the United States prior to 1980.

International Research Travel Grants for US-based Scholars 

Doctoral Scholars 

Thomas Busciglio-Ritter, The University of Delaware, “‘The Union of Excellences’: An Atlantic History of Early American Landscape Views (1790–1860)”

Ann Tartsinis, Stanford University, “Modernism in Pieces: Transatlantic Visual Culture Between the Wars”

Postdoctoral & Senior Scholars 

Caroline Riley, Boston University, “Thérèse Bonney’s Photography: The Politics of Art, the Body,and War from 1920–1970”

Nadia Sethi, University of Washington, “Alaska Native Cultural Belongings held in Museums in Estonia, Finland and Sweden”

Kay Wells, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, “Uncanny Revivals: Designing Early America during the Rise of Fascism”

International Research Travel Grants to the United States  

Doctoral Scholars

Max Böhner, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany, “Twilight Aesthetics: Queer Visual Culture in the United States Between 1945 and 1969”

Sarah Happersberger, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany, “Connection, Community, Kinship, Network: Women Artists Performing Togetherness in the Long 1970s”

Jacqueline Mabey, University College London, England, “This Must Be the Place: Mapping Artistic Kinship and Economic Change in Downtown New York, 1973–1987”

Ana Gabriela Rodriguez, The Courtauld Institute of Art, England, “Tracing Puerto Rican Graphic Arts: Bridging Workshops and Crossing Borders, 1940s –1970s”

Frances Varley, The Courtauld Institute of Art, England, “Identity, Provincialism and Modernism in the US and Britain from a Comparative Perspective, c. 1870–1914”

Wen Yao, The University of York, England, “A Travelling Surrealist: Mobility and Representation in Stella Snead’s Paintings, Photographs and Collages Made in the US (1940–1980)”

Postdoctoral & Senior Scholars 

Dafne Cruz Porchini, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, “Jean Charlot: A French Artist in the United States and Mexico (1921–1944)”

Maria Stavrinaki, Université Paris I Panthéon–Sorbonne, France, “‘After History’: Variations on a Theme in the Art and Thought of the 1950s–1960s”

Emily Warner, Independent Scholar, “Abstraction Unframed: Abstract Murals at Midcentury”

Learn more about the Terra Foundation Research Travel Grants

Filed under: Art History, Grants and Fellowships, Research — Tags:

Remembering Rick Asher

posted by July 13, 2021

Rick Asher

Rick Asher. Photograph by Ben Fractenberg.

Frederick M. Asher, beacon of collegiality and builder of institutions, died on June 26, 2021, having turned 80 just one month earlier. His generosity of spirit guided many scholars through their graduate years and beyond: at the University of Minnesota, where he spent his academic career, and around the world. With Catherine B. Asher, his wife and fellow historian of South Asian art, he led initiatives to document and preserve images of art, archaeological, and architectural objects and sites in India; mentored numerous colleagues and students; and contributed his energies to making academic organizations flourish across the world. He was an early, active member of the American Council for Southern Asian Art (ACSAA); served as president of the American Institute of Indian Studies; and played many roles at CAA, most recently as part of the CAA-Getty International Program where his energies encouraged many of us to reach out across physical and intellectual distances to begin new conversations.  

His early research, published in 1980 as The Art of Eastern India, 300–800 (Minnesota), draws connections across the Gupta and Pala eras, thinking deeply about continuities across media—terracotta, bronze, and stone—and across belief systems. His subsequent research led him to study contemporary sculptural practices as a way of understanding the work of unnamed historical sculptors and to a deep engagement with the materiality, crafting, and afterlives of both sculptural objects and the sites where they were worshipped and excavated. His final book, Sarnath: A Critical History of the Place Where Buddhism Began (Getty 2020), published just months before his death, focused on the place where the historical Buddha preached his first sermon, tracing the establishment, excavation, and reimagining of the monastic site from that founding moment to the present. In April, Rick discussed the book with James Cuno for a Getty podcast, giving us a glimpse into his intellectual process and offering many of us a reminder of the rhythms of his class lectures. With his students, Rick always ran toward questions and tantalizing bits of information, wondering at what we don’t know about the past and at the same time marveling at contemporary uses of ancient sculptures and sites. At Sarnath, this meant both the tourists shuttling in from Varanasi with their local guides (guides who almost certainly had met Rick and discussed their mutual love of the site with him) and the international monastic Buddhist communities with pilgrimage centers nearby. Rick cared deeply about his students, and his engaging, dynamic teaching was renowned. He received the University of Minnesota’s Morse-Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2005–2006, one of his most treasured moments of recognition.  

I was incredibly fortunate to visit Sarnath for the first time with Rick and Cathy as part of a trip they organized for the cohort of graduate students in the late 1990s. The trip was exemplary of the Ashers’ generosity and openness—recognizing the hurdles associated with pursuing academic research in India, they sought to pass on their extensive experience by offering us the opportunity to shadow them in their respective projects. Rick had been working with a scientist at the University of Minnesota to ascertain the locations of quarries for various Pala-era (8th–12th century) sculptures by matching stone samples. The project focused on both the materiality and the process of crafting the sculptures—he considered how stone was separated from the earth, how it would have been chosen for a sculpture, and then how it was carefully carved with the detailed iconographies of a Vishnu or a Tara.1 The project’s success relied on his ability to bring people together in a common project: Rick recruited curators and conservators at museums around the world to undertake the delicate process of excising a thin section from the back of these sculptures to compare to the samples he gathered from quarries in Bihar and Bengal. It was this latter piece of the project that he embarked on that summer, taking two of us green graduate students with him into remote areas of Bihar, where we stayed in dak bungalows (remnants of the nineteenth-century postal system) and revisited many of his early research sites from his own graduate days. Rick’s enthusiasm for reconnecting with the people of the region and introducing us to them still resonates with me today, guiding my own fieldwork experiences beyond the inert object to understand the deep interconnections between art, history, and the people who made and continue to interact with the “works of art” we study, works that remain very much alive in the present. 

Rick had an incredible gift for open and positive leadership. He hosted ACSAA’s first conference in 1981, and he made sure that the group served as a space of warm, collegial exchange as it grew over the decades. He attended every conference, symposium, workshop, and meeting, seeking out the panels where colleagues and former students were presenting. He would often ask the first question, to draw out commonalities across a diverse panel and also, I came to realize, to facilitate discussion and to give everyone else in the audience time to formulate their own questions. It was primarily at conferences that he would make connections between scholars, a kind of academic matchmaking, if you will. One of the truths of my academic life is that if we have met, Rick probably introduced us. He would stride over, beaming, happy to see you, and then almost immediately say, “there’s someone here you should meet.” Then he would bound off, urging you to follow, to joyfully connect you to a towering senior scholar or newly minted PhD, offering a few choice intellectual threads to solidify the link. Rick understood that the big institutions—CAA prominent among them—only worked because of the dedication of an interconnected group of individuals who recognized their shared commitment to the field. These introductions wove the fabric of these institutions such that when he passed, my email inbox was filled with loving notes and remembrances from colleagues around the world—his colleagues, and also, because of him, my colleagues. 

Rick, whose intellectual pursuits focused on the material connections between works of art and people and who cared deeply for makers of objects and sites and the ways in which places and people shaped one another over time, thus continues to connect us even at the moment of his passing. His own post-history has yet to be written, but I have a strong feeling that his energy and presence will be with us at each future academic meeting, in each future encounter. So wonderful to see you! Come, there’s someone here you should meet. 

–Rebecca M. Brown, Johns Hopkins University 

Filed under: Obituaries

For our members and the larger visual arts community, CAA is disheartened by recent and continued actions on departmental closures in Art and Art History departments. The following links offer resources to use as we continue to determine the actions going forward:

In 2020, CAA signed on to advocacy with the ACLS: http://www.collegeart.org/news/2021/02/01/caa-signs-on-to-acls-statement-on-recent-kansas-board-of-regents-actions/

Earlier Advocacy posts and response:
https://www.collegeart.org/news/2018/09/17/caa-to-issue-best-practices-for-addressing-proposed-changes/

https://www.collegeart.org/news/2018/11/12/caa-guidelines-arts-and-humanities/

The 2018 survey of universities with departmental closures:
https://www.collegeart.org/news/2018/11/08/colleges-facing-cuts-to-arts-and-humanities/

Since 2018, several other institutions have closed and continue to close. Today our constituency has been affected by this ongoing situation over the past 13 years. CAA cannot stop any institution of art, design or art-history from the decision, necessitated by financial situation or otherwise, to close. To best support our community, as a part of our ongoing repositioning and digital transformation, CAA has identified the importance and continued growth of an e-learning model and publications to recognize and support those currently and who continue to be affected.

CAA has a robust and active group of committees, Board of Directors, and other members who all continue to work together and move forward upcoming guidelines and best practices, to survey and respond to the ongoing needs of our constituencies. The advocates within our organization help strengthen the organization as a part of the community of large.

Attendees at a reception at CAA's 108th Annual Conference in Chicago. Photo: Stacey Rupolo

Attendees at a reception at CAA’s 108th Annual Conference in Chicago. Photo: Stacey Rupolo

The Professional Committees address critical concerns of CAA’s members. Each Professional Committee works from a charge that is put in place by the Board of Directors. For many CAA members, service on a Professional Committee becomes a way to develop professional relationships and community outside of one’s home institution, and to contribute in meaningful ways to the pressing professional issues of our moment.

Candidates must be current CAA members, or be so by the start of and throughout their committee term, and possess expertise appropriate to the committee’s work.

Committee members serve a three-year term, with the term of service beginning and ending at the CAA Annual Conference.

It is expected that once appointed to a committee, a member will attend committee meetings (including an annual business meeting at the conference), participate actively in the work of the committee, and contribute expertise to defining the current and future work of the committee.

All committee members volunteer their services without compensation.

The following Professional Committee are open for terms beginning in February 2022. Please click on the links in order to review the charge of each committee, as well as the roster of current committee leadership and members:

Committee applications are reviewed by the current committees, as well as CAA leadership (CAA’s President, the Vice President for Committees, and Executive Director). Appointments are made by late October, prior to the Annual Conference. New members are introduced to their committees during their respective business meetings at the Annual Conference in February 2022.

In applying to serve on a committee, applicants commit to beginning a term in February 2022, provided that they are selected for committee service.

Questions about the committee charge and current work to the current committee chair and/or to the Vice President of Committees: Lynne Allen (ldallen@bu.edu).

Apply to serve by completing this form. Self-nomination submissions should include a brief statement (no more than 150 words) describing your qualifications and experience, combined with an abbreviated CV (no more than 2–3 pages) into a single PDF document and emailed to CommitteeApplications@collegeart.org. Applications will not be considered complete without a supporting statement and CV.

Deadline for applications: September 13, 2021 (11:59 PM ET)

Apply to serve

Filed under: CAA News, Committees, Service