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One of thirteen The Life of Washington murals by Victor Arnautoff, George Washington High School, San Francisco. Image courtesy George Washington High School Alumni Association.

On June 25th, the San Francisco Unified School District’s Board of Education voted to destroy an important series of murals by artist Victor Arnautoff, which he painted as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) program inside George Washington High School in 1936. The series of 13 murals, entitled The Life of Washington, includes imagery of dead Native Americans and imagery of slaves working at Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia, which the school board determined was offensive.

CAA opposes the recent ruling by the San Francisco Unified School District and its Board of Education. By voting to destroy the murals, the Board is advancing an agenda of erasing history in order to appease contemporary critics. CAA firmly believes in the preservation of art historical records and works that serve to educate and inform the public. The murals should be viewed as an opportunity to examine history, to ask questions, and to create discussion around ideas, events, and facts that are woven indisputably into American history.

David Raizman
Interim Executive Director

Further reading: San Francisco School Will Cover Controversial George Washington Murals (New York Times)

A Controversial WPA Mural Is a Litmus Test for the Longevity of Public Art (Hyperallergic)

Art Professor Dewey Crumpler Defends Victor Arnautoff’s WPA Murals (National Coalition Against Censorship)

Filed under: Advocacy, Art History, Education — Tags:

2018 CAA Annual Conference. Photo: Rafael Cardenas

In fall 2018, we announced CAA had received an anonymous gift of $1 million to fund travel for art history faculty and their students to special exhibitions related to their classwork. The generous gift established the Art History Fund for Travel to Special Exhibitions.

The jury for the Art History Fund for Travel to Special Exhibitions met in May 2019 to select the first group of recipients as part of the gift.

The awardees are:

Catherine Girard, Eastern Washington University
Class: Topics in Art History: Manet Inside Out
Exhibition: Manet and Modern Beauty at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Luis Gordo Peláez, California State University Fresno
Class: Arts of the Colonial Andes
Exhibition: Art & Empire: The Golden Age of Spain at The San Diego Museum of Art

Alison Miller, University of the South
Class: Japanese Print Culture
Exhibition: Yoshitoshi: Spirit and Spectacle at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Rachel Stephens, University of Alabama
Class: American Portraiture
Exhibition: Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now at the Birmingham Museum of Art

“We’re delighted to announce the inaugural recipients of the Art History Fund for Travel to Special Exhibitions, a groundbreaking CAA program designed specifically to enhance students’ first-hand knowledge of works of art,” said Hunter O’Hanian, CAA’s executive director. “The new Fund places a spotlight on the critical work art history scholars are doing to grow the field, with CAA as the go-to organization supporting and advancing their work.”

The Art History Fund for Travel to Special Exhibitions supports travel, lodging, and research efforts by art history students and faculty in conjunction with special museum exhibitions in the United States and throughout the world. Awards are made exclusively to support travel to exhibitions that directly correspond to the class content, and exhibitions on all artists, periods, and areas of art history are eligible.

Applications for the second round of grants will be accepted by CAA beginning in fall 2019. Deadlines and details can be found on the Travel Grants page.

Apply to be a CAA Campus Ambassador

posted by May 02, 2019

CAA 2018 Annual Conference attendees. Photo: Rafael Cardenas

CAA is seeking Ambassadors in the New York, Boston, and Chicago areas to represent CAA and give short talks about the organization to their fellow classmates and students in nearby schools.

The selected Ambassadors will be compensated for each talk and given a complimentary CAA Annual Conference registration and one-year CAA membership at the student level. Ambassadors will collect feedback at their talks and have check-ins with CAA staff leading the project.

To be considered for the CAA Ambassador role, applicants must be currently enrolled in a visual arts-focused program at a university or college in the New York, Boston, or Chicago area. Applicants should be in their junior year or higher. Master’s degree, Master of Fine Arts, and PhD candidates are encouraged to apply. Familiarity with CAA and its programs is necessary for this role. Candidates should feel enthusiastic about spreading the word about CAA and feel comfortable speaking in front of groups. The Ambassador role is a two-semester commitment (fall and spring) with a maximum of five talks given on campuses each semester.

To be considered for the CAA Ambassador Program, please submit your resume or CV, cover letter expressing your interest, and one reference to Alison Chang at achang@collegeart.org.

Applications will be accepted until the positions are filled.

Member Spotlight: Nazar Kozak

posted by April 04, 2019

Nazar Kozak at the 2019 CAA Annual Conference. Photo: Ben Fractenberg

Up next in our Member Spotlight series, we are highlighting the work of Nazar Kozak, senior research scholar in the Department of Art History in the Ethnology Institute at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and an alumnus of the CAA-Getty International Program. Joelle Te Paske, CAA’s media and content manager, corresponded recently with Professor Kozak to learn more about his experiences at the Annual Conference, his current research, and his tips for scholars looking to extend their work internationally.

Joelle Te Paske: Hi Professor. Thanks for taking the time for our interview. So to begin, where are  you from originally? What is the focus of your research?

Nazar Kozak: I am from Lviv, Ukraine, and I work in two fields simultaneously: medieval and contemporary art. The first one emerged from my interest in the cultural heritage of the region in which I live. My ongoing research in this field is focused on the sixteenth-century iconographic migrations of the Akathistos cycle across the post-Byzantine world from Venetian Cyprus in the South to the Tsardom of Muscovy in the North. Through this, I aim to discover artistic connections within this politically segmented realm that are not readily visible through archival data and thus to problematize nationalist narratives that have dominated Eastern European scholarship in the past. My second specialization emerged in recent years when issues of social justice and war came into the forefront in my country. I was driven to document and re-think artistic responses to the turmoil of events and through this to make my art history relevant to the times I am living through socially and politically. Currently, I am working on an article that explores how border art resists a global biopolitical divide.

Akathistos cycle on the south facade of the Dormition Church in Humor, 1535. Photo: Nazar Kozak

JTP: What is your favorite thing about being a CAA member? Do you have a favorite memory?

NK: My favorite part of being a member is attending the Annual Conference. I remember the reaction of the audience to my talk at the Global Conversation session in 2017 when I shared my personal crisis in finding a motivation to continue writing art historical research when war broke out in my country and how I eventually found that motivation. The room was crowded and I remember the anxiety that I had before the session and the confidence I felt when I spoke and also during several moving conversations I had with attendees afterwards. That talk was published on the CAA website.

JTP: What is the most exciting part of your work currently?

NK: Currently and always the most exciting moment is when I realize that my work on a scholarly project is done; that is, when I can confirm my intellectual hypothesis and substantiate it with evidence that I genuinely believe to be true for now. This feeling, of course, does not last forever.

JTP: What would you say are some of the challenges?

NK: The major challenge is to find a sustainable answer for the Why question: Why am I writing a particular paper or monograph? And not just a random answer to tell others, but an answer I can tell myself and stick with, at least until I finish writing. The access to material and writing itself is a challenge, of course, but I think when you know your stake in it you can handle all the rest.

A view of Independence Square in Kyiv after violent clashes with the police during the Maidan Revolution, January 21, 2014. Photo: Borys Harasymiv

JTP: What is a favorite study you’ve worked on over the years? Any recommendations for our readers?

NK: Right now it is my article on art interventions during the Ukrainian Maidan revolution published in Art Journal in 2017.

I would recommend Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology by T.J. Demos, because it is a great piece of engaging scholarship and because art and ecology is a crucial issue that is relevant to us all.

For those who are interested in online resources on Byzantine art I would recommend The Digital Research Archive for Byzantium (DIFAB) and North of Byzantium.

JTP: What is your experience with Humanities Commons and the CAA-Getty program?

NK: I have used Humanities Commons several times as a platform for online discussions which have worked well as a supplement for in-person exchanges. Among other online platforms that I use is Academia.edu though I see its commercialization as controversial. The CAA-Getty International Program is the major vehicle that facilitates scholars from countries where art history has fewer resources than in West Europe or North America to bring their voice and to build their professional networks on the global scale. I participated in that program three times: first as a scholar and twice as an alumnus. This year I was selected to collaborate with the program’s director Janet Landay and the current CAA International Committee chair Pearlie Rose Baluyut to design and moderate the preconference colloquium on international topics in art history and I was honored to have that opportunity not only for my benefit but to contribute to the program as well. I might add that because of my work with the CAA-Getty program I have recently joined CAA’s International Committee, where I look forward to continuing to work on recruiting and interacting with international scholars.

Map of home institutions of 2019 CAA-Getty International Program participants. Learn more.

Nazar Kozak is a senior research scholar in the Department of Art History in the Ethnology Institute at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Previously he also taught at the Medieval and Byzantine Studies Department at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. After receiving his PhD from the Lviv Academy of Arts in 2000, he spent a year in Greece under the auspices of the State Scholarships Foundation (IKY). Kozak is a recipient of research and publication grants from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and an alumnus of the CAA-Getty International Program. In 2016-2017, he was a visiting Fulbright Scholar in The Ukrainian Museum in New York. Kozak is the author of a monograph on image and authority in Kyivan Rus’ and articles dealing with Byzantine and post-Byzantine wall-paintings preserved in Ukraine. His ongoing research is focused on the sixteenth-century iconographic migrations of the Akathistos cycle across the post-Byzantine world. More recently, Kozak has also begun to work on topics in contemporary art. His article on the art interventions during the Ukrainian Maidan published in the Spring 2017 issue of the Art Journal received an honorable mention as a finalist for that year’s Art Journal Award.

Nazar Kozak (third from top left) and fellow 2019 CAA-Getty International Program participants.

Rosie Liljenquist and Anne Diekema

posted by February 04, 2019

The weekly CAA Conversations Podcast continues the vibrant discussions initiated at our Annual Conference. Listen in each week as educators explore arts and pedagogy, tackling everything from the day-to-day grind to the big, universal questions of the field.

CAA podcasts are on iTunes. Click here to subscribe.

This week, Rosie Liljenquist and Anne Diekema discuss Open Educational Resources (OER).

Rose Liljenquist is an Open Educational Resources librarian at Gerald Sherratt Library, Southern Utah University. Anne Diekema is also a librarian at Gerald Sherratt Library and an assistant professor at Southern Utah University.

Filed under: CAA Conversations, Education, Podcast

Rachel Clarke and Peter Williams

posted by January 21, 2019

The weekly CAA Conversations Podcast continues the vibrant discussions initiated at our Annual Conference. Listen in each week as educators explore arts and pedagogy, tackling everything from the day-to-day grind to the big, universal questions of the field.

CAA podcasts are now on iTunes. Click here to subscribe.

This week, Rachel Clarke and Peter Williams discuss interdisciplinary and community-involved curriculum.

Rachel Clarke is professor of New Media Art at California State University, Sacramento. Her work intertwines themes of nature, culture, and technology; combining physical and virtual modes of making.

Peter Williams is a new media artist specializing in interactive installation, and an assistant professor at California State University, Sacramento.

Filed under: CAA Conversations, Education, Podcast

Honorees this year include Howardena Pindell, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Anna C. Chave, Senga Nengudi, Nancy S. Steinhardt, Edward Sullivan, Molly Nesbit, and many other scholars, artists, authors, and teachers

CAA Annual Conference, New York City, February 13-16, 2019

CAA is pleased to announce the recipients and finalists of the 2019 Awards for Distinction. Awardees this year were chosen from a pool of scholars, artists, teachers, and authors who are constantly pushing our understanding of the visual arts. The CAA Awards for Distinction are presented during Convocation at the CAA Annual Conference on Wednesday, February 13 at 6:00 PM at the New York Hilton Midtown. The CAA Annual Conference runs from February 13-16, 2019.

Howardena Pindell. Courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery.

Among the winners this year is Howardena Pindell, recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement. Pindell studied painting at Boston University and received her MFA from Yale University. Since 1979, she has been a professor of painting and conceptual drawing at SUNY Stony Brook University. Pindell is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant, and a Studio Museum in Harlem Artist Award. In 1990, CAA awarded her the Most Distinguished Body of Work or Performance Award. Pindell’s work is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Fogg Museum at Harvard University, and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, among many others.

Ursula von Rydingsvard. Photo: Zack Garlitos

Ursula von Rydingsvard is the winner of the 2019 Artist Award for Distinguished Body of Work. Von Rydingsvard is best known for her unmistakable towering sculptures with mountainous topographic surfaces created from carved cedar wood. She has also explored other mediums in her work, such as bronze, paper, and resin. Over an artistic career spanning more than forty years, Von Rydingsvard’s work has been in solo exhibitions at Galerie Lelong, SCAD Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Dieu Donné. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions and is in the permanent collections of more than thirty museums. She is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center, the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture, a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant, and an Academy Award in Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among other awards and recognitions. A major exhibition of her work, Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling, was presented at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia (April 27 – August 26, 2018) and will travel to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in March 2019.

The Award for Excellence in Diversity recognizes the work of an individual or organization in the visual arts whose commitment to inclusion in scholarship or practice stands out as groundbreaking and unifying. The winner of the Award for Excellence in Diversity for 2019 is the Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA. The work of the center entails five distinct areas: a library, an academic press, collaborative research projects, public programs and community partnerships, and a grant and fellowship program.

Each year, CAA awards two Distinguished Feminist Awards, one to a visual artist and one to a scholar. The two winners for 2019 are Senga Nengudi for visual artist, and Anna C. Chave for scholar.

The full list of 2019 CAA Awards for Distinction Recipients

Artist Award for Distinguished Body of Work

Ursula von Rydingsvard

Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement

Howardena Pindell

Distinguished Teaching of Art Award

Susanne Slavick

Distinguished Feminist Award—Visual Artist

Senga Nengudi

Distinguished Feminist Award—Scholar

Anna C. Chave

Distinguished Teaching of Art History Award

Nancy S. Steinhardt

Edward Sullivan

Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art

Molly Nesbit

Award for Excellence in Diversity

Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC)

Charles Rufus Morey Book Award

Zeynep Çelik Alexander
Kinaesthetic Knowing: Aesthetics, Epistemology, Modern Design
University of Chicago Press, 2017

Finalists

Olga Bush
Reframing the Alhambra: Architecture, Poetry, Textiles and Court Ceremonial 
Edinburgh University Press, 2018

Linda Kim
Race Experts: Sculpture, Anthropology, and the American Public in Malvina Hoffman’s Races of Mankind
University of Nebraska Press, 2018

Carolyn Yerkes
Drawing after Architecture
Princeton University Press, 2017

Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award

Wendy Kaplan
Design in California and Mexico 1915–1985: Found in Translation
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2017

Finalists

Jeffrey Spier and Timothy Potts
Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World
J. Paul Getty Trust, 2018

Christophe Cherix
Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions 1965–2016
Museum of Modern Art, 2018

Naoko Takahatake and Jonathan Bober
The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2018

Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, Andrea Giunta, and Rodrigo Alonso
Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985
Hammer Museum, University of California, 2017

Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award for Smaller Museums, Libraries, Collections, and Exhibitions

Andrew C. Weislogel and Andaleeb Badiee Banta
Lines of Inquiry: Learning from Rembrandt’s Etchings
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, 2017

Finalists

Patrick A. Polk, Roberto Conduru, Sabrina Gledhill, and Randal Johnson
Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis
Fowler Museum at UCLA, 2018

Antonio Sergio Bessa and Jessamyn Fiore
Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect
Bronx Museum of Art, 2017

Mark Sloan
Fahamu Pecou: Visible Man
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, 2016

Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism

Julia Bryan-Wilson
Fray: Art + Textile Politics
University of Chicago Press, 2017

Rebecca M. Schreiber
The Undocumented Everyday: Migrant Lives and the Politics of Visibility
University of Minnesota Press, 2018

Art Journal Award

Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra
“Beyond Evil: Politics, Ethics, and Religion in Léon Ferrari’s Illustrated Nunca más
Art Journal, Fall 2018

Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize

Nathan T. Arrington
“Touch and Remembrance in Greek Funerary Art”
The Art Bulletin, September 2018

CAA/AIC Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation

Karl D. Buchberg

Jodi Hauptman

Learn about the juries that select the recipients of the CAA Awards for Distinction.

Contacts

Nick Obourn, Director of Communications, Marketing, and Membership
nobourn@collegeart.org, 212-392-4401

Joelle Te Paske, Media and Content Manager
jtepaske@collegeart.org, 212-392-4426

IMAGES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Hashtags: #CAA2019 #CAANYC

Member Spotlight: Renata Holod

posted by December 18, 2018

Renata Holod is College of Women Class of 1963 Term Professor in the Humanities, at the History of Art Department, and Curator, Near East Section, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, at the University of Pennsylvania. She has carried out archaeological and architectural fieldwork in Syria, Iran, Morocco, Turkey, Central Asia, Tunisia, and Ukraine, and is the author of numerous books and essays.

CAA media and content manager Joelle Te Paske corresponded recently with Professor Holod to learn more about what she’s working on.

Joelle Te Paske: Thank you for taking the time, Professor. So to begin, where are you from originally?

Renata Holod: I was born in Ukraine, and grew up in Edmonton, Alberta and then Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

I have a BA in Islamic Studies from the University of Toronto; a MA from University of Michigan in the History of Art, and my PhD from Harvard in Fine Arts.

JTP: What led you to the work you do now?

RH: My work on projects varies in date and methodology, from archaeology (I worked in Syria, and Tunisia), to architectural and regional history of different periods and locations (including fourteenth- to fifteenth-century architecture, settings and cities in greater Iran, and contemporary architecture from Morocco to Indonesia), to work on objects and collections (ceramics, the late Ottoman painter Osman Hamdi Bey). I get bored quickly.

JTP: You’ve been a CAA member for over 40 years. How has the field changed?

RH: There are many more practitioners in my particular field. In fact, it is no longer one field, but could be divided into regional and temporal sub-fields. There is much more theorization, and also expanded archival work (e.g. Ottoman archives), and now digital humanities, etc.

JTP: What is the most exciting part of your work currently?

RH: Studying unpublished objects, and redoing the galleries and publishing the Middle East collection for the later periods (Parthian through the nineteenth century) at the Penn Museum.

JTP: A favorite exhibition or study you’ve worked on over the years?

RH: Whichever one is currently being submitted.

JTP: What is your top recommendation for our readers?

RH: Network Theory and its application; see the work of my former student, Yael Rice on Mughal workshops, as well as the work of Johannes Preiser-Kappeler (Vienna).

JTP: What is a favorite memory from a CAA conference?

RH: Seeing my former students give papers; and meeting my former classmates.

JTP: Thank you, Professor Holod.

Renata Holod is College of Women Class of 1963 Term Professor in the Humanities, at the History of Art Department, and Curator, Near East Section, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, at the University of Pennsylvania. She has carried out archaeological and architectural fieldwork in Syria, Iran, Morocco, Turkey, Central Asia, Tunisia, and Ukraine. She is co-author of City in the Desert: Qasr al- Hayr East (1978); Architecture and Community: Building in the Islamic World Today (1983); The Mosque and the Modern World (1997); The City in the Islamic World (2008) and An Island Through Time: Jerba Studies (2009). She was recently part of the team redoing the Middle East galleries at the Penn Museum, with a special issue of Expedition magazine and a new handbook as well. Her most recent articles are: “Approaching the Mosque: Birth and Evolution” in The World of the Mosque: Magnificent Designs (New York: Rizzoli, 2017) 14-21, and “Jerba in the 3rd/9th century CE: Under Aghlabi Control?” in The Aghlabids & their Neighbors: Art & Material Culture in Ninth-Century North Africa, Glaire D. Anderson, Corisande Fenwick, and Mariam Rosser-Owen, eds. (Leiden: Brill, HdO series, 2017), 451- 469. On several international advisory and editorial boards, she has also served as President, Board of Trustees at The Ukrainian Museum in NYC, 2013-2017.

Meet the 2018 CAA Campus Ambassadors

posted by December 05, 2018

Launched this fall, the CAA Ambassador Program is now in full swing. CAA Ambassadors are representing the organization in New York and Chicago and giving presentations to their fellow classmates and students in nearby schools. Meet the inaugural class of ambassadors below.

Interested in becoming a future CAA Ambassador? Learn more here.

Rikki Byrd

Rikki Byrd is a writer, educator and scholar, with research interests in Black studies, visual culture, fashion history and cultural studies. Her research has appeared at Art Basel: Miami and has been published or is forthcoming in various academic journals and books. She has also written for Teen Vogue, Art.sy, and Hyperallergic, among several other media outlets. She has lectured and participated in panel discussions with Google and The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Parsons School of Design, Junior High! in Los Angeles and Saint Louis Art Museum. Most recently, Rikki was a faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and the African and African American Studies department. She is currently a PhD student in African American Studies at Northwestern University. 

J. English Cook

J. English Cook is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, where she specializes in intersections between architecture, cinema, and urban theory. Her dissertation examines the impact of cinema on the postwar spread of phenomenology, particularly as expressed in architects’ re-articulation of notions of spatial experience. She previously received an MA with distinction from the Institute of Fine Arts and a BA with highest honors from Williams College. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, she is currently the Graduate Curatorial Assistant at the Grey Art Gallery, NYU, and has worked as a Curatorial Assistant in Modern and Contemporary Art at the High Museum, Atlanta, and as the Commissioner’s Assistant for the US Pavilion at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale. She has produced performances at Momentum Worldwide, a time-based media gallery in Berlin, and has interned in curatorial departments at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Williams College Museum of Art.

Rebecca Pollack

Rebecca Pollack is a doctoral candidate in art history at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her dissertation “Contextualizing British Holocaust Memorials and Museums: Form, Content, Politics,” examines the publicly funded Holocaust commemorative projects in Britain. She currently holds fellowships from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Jewish Studies Center at the CUNY Graduate Center, and the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art.  

Mia Rubin

Mia Rubin is a recent Parsons School of Design graduate. Mia is the Events and Conference Programming Intern at CAA and one of CAA’s newest ambassadors. She will assist with planning the Annual Conference. Mia will help organize pre-conference workshops, key conversation panels, events for students, and museum tours. She will research and help develop workshops and programs throughout the year.  

Urooj Shakeel

Urooj Shakeel is a graduate student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Master of Arts in Arts Administration & Policy program. She is also the Leadership Investment and Communications Field Fellow at The Field Foundation of Illinois. Currently, Urooj is working on her thesis project and is designing a library exchange box in the shape of a Pakistani truck that is painted in the traditional art form known as Truck Art. This project examines activating public space for educative functions on Chicago’s Devon Avenue for preadolescents. As a leader, Urooj also serves on the SAIC Graduate Advisory Panel, working closely with the Graduate Dean’s Office to bring attention to graduate student interests through information sharing and problem solving. She earned her BS in Marketing and BA in Art History from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

We are pleased to welcome Elizabeth Hill Boone, Professor of History of Art and Martha and Donald Robertson Chair in Latin American Art at Tulane University, as the 2019 CAA Distinguished Scholar.

The Distinguished Scholar Session honoring Elizabeth Boone will take place Thursday, February 14, 2019, from 4-5:30 PM.

An expert in the Precolumbian and early colonial art of Latin America with an emphasis on Mexico, Professor Boone is the former Director of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks and recipient of numerous honors and fellowships, including the Order of the Aztec Eagle, awarded by the Mexican government in 1990.

CAA media and content manager Joelle Te Paske corresponded with her recently to learn her thoughts on art history, scholarship, and challenges in the field. Read their interview below.

Photo: Paula Burch, Tulane University

Joelle Te Paske: Thanks for taking the time to speak with CAA. So, where are you from originally?

Elizabeth Hill Boone: Coming from a military family rooted in Virginia, I moved from coast to coast often as a child and then attended the College of William and Mary in Virginia for my BA.

JTP: What pathways led you to the work you do now?

EHB: It was at William and Mary, where I was a Fine Arts major. The sculpture professor Carl Roseberg offered a course, Ancient Art, that included a three-week section on the Pre-Columbian Americas. He showed us and presented the then-canonical explanation of the monumental “Coatlicue” sculpture from Aztec Mexico, and I was immensely intrigued. I wondered what kind of mind would conceptualize and carve a work like that as its creator or mother goddess. That question led me into Aztec studies, which took me to the University of Texas at Austin for my PhD, and to Aztec painted books, where similar images were to be found. I became a manuscript specialist because I needed to understand what the manuscript paintings meant, how they related to the Coatlicue, why they came to fill those particular pages. Since the field of Mexican manuscript painting was in its infancy, I left the Coatlicue behind to focus on the other manuscript genres and Mexican pictography as a system. My study of Mexican pictography naturally led me to the issue of how the concept of Writing should be broadened.

JTP: What are you working on currently?

EHB: I am now finishing up a book analyzing the corpus of pictorial manuscripts created in the early colonial period to document the ideologies and practices of Aztec culture. United by their decendency from Mexican pictography, these painted reflections of the Aztec past were re-purposed to inform Europeans principally about Aztec religion, as weapons of conversion and aids for colonial administrators.

JTP: What is your favorite part of the work you do?

EHB: I think most art historians love solving mysteries: discovering connections and uncovering histories and contexts. I want to understand what an object meant to its different audiences at the time of its creation, and also what it can tell us now about our own perspectives. Depending on the object, it can also be rewarding and telling to track its reception and reconceptualization through time.

Coatlicue Statue in National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City. Photo: Antony Stanley

JTP: If you could boil your teaching philosophy down to a central idea, what would it be?

EHB: My goal is to excite students about the potentials of visual expression. This means giving them knowledge of the material such that they can understand its cultural context and power, but also showing the students how the objects speak today as works of art.

JTP: What’s exciting to you right now in the field?

EHB: Globalism. The discipline has broken the confines that once centered it in Western Europe and is now focusing on connections between peoples. Centers of discourse are now shifting toward the larger Atlantic world, the Pacific world, the Silk Road, and the trans-Mediterranean/African network, to name just a few. It is opening up new ways of understanding the meaning and agency of art.

JTP: What do you see as the greatest challenges in the field right now?

EHB: I see two challenges. The first and most important is relevance. Art history must articulate why it matters in these times. As graphic communication (communication that is not oral or gestural) becomes even more the principal form of communication between people, the discipline needs to assert its place as a source of theoretical knowledge and of models for investigative practice.

The second challenge is linked to the increasing study of trans-cultural connections. Scholars who seek to follow the movement of objects and ideas across spaces and between cultures need to develop strong local knowledge of all participants, so that these global connections are grounded in area expertise. In order to avoid facile comparisons and connections, researchers now have to master multiple areas.

JTP: Have you attended CAA conferences? Do you have a favorite memory?

EHB: I have attended many. Perhaps my favorite memories are of cross-cultural sessions that focus on issues relevant to many cultures, for example, civic identity, and in which the presenters push their material to address the large question in a serious way.

JTP: Thank you, Professor Boone. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the 2019 conference.

REGISTER FOR CAA 2019

Elizabeth Hill Boone is Professor of History of Art and Martha and Donald Robertson Chair in Latin American Art at Tulane University. An expert in the Precolumbian and early colonial art of Latin America with an emphasis on Mexico, she is the former Director of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks. Professor Boone has earned numerous honors and fellowships, including the Order of the Aztec Eagle, awarded by the Mexican government in 1990. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Member of the Academia Mexicana de la Historia. Her research interests range from the history of collecting to systems of writing and notation, and are grounded geographically in Aztec Mexico, but extend temporally for at least a century after the Spanish invasion. She is the author of Cycles of Time and Meaning in the Mexican Books of Fate (Texas, 2007) and Stories in Red and Black: Pictorial Histories of the Aztecs and Mixtecs (Texas, 2000), which was awarded the Arvey Prize by the Association for Latin American Art.