CAA News Today

Cecilia Bugno presents her work as part of the inaugural Undergraduate Research Poster Presentations at the 2020 Annual Conference. Photo: Stacey Rupolo

We’re excited to announce the 2021 Call for Participation for a special virtual poster session dedicated to undergraduate research for the 2021 Annual Conference, February 10-13.

Organized by Alexa Sand, Chair of the Division of Arts and Humanities for the Council on Undergraduate Research, and Professor of Art History and Director of Undergraduate Research at Utah State University, this session is one of several events planned for CAA 2021 to provide more opportunities for undergraduate participation.

Submissions should be sent via this google form by November 23, 2020.

Selected presenters will be notified by December 7 and will need to join CAA at the student membership rate prior to participation in the conference. Participants will also be required to register for the conference.

Undergraduate research—whether part of a faculty-directed project, class-based, or an individual pursuit on the part of a student—is an ideal example of active and engaged learning. Students in art history identify questions, evaluate source material, test ideas and theories, and produce reports in some form, usually including a significant written component. In the studio art and design fields, research can take a different form, with creative practice being one way outcomes of a project can be delivered.

This poster session will be dedicated to presenting outstanding examples of undergraduate research. Submissions are invited from students conducting research such as object and/or medium studies, text-based analysis, experimental archaeology, thesis research, and/or creative inquiry. Students may choose to present findings from ongoing research or from recently completed projects.

We also encourage submissions from faculty and museum professionals who have experience with mentoring undergraduate research in Art History, Studio Art, Graphic Design, Visual Communication, and other creative fields. Faculty posters may address specific projects or case studies of student research projects, assessment of undergraduate research, characteristics of successful programs, or other approaches that addresses the challenges and benefits to students of undergraduate research.

This project proposal is part of CAA’s Undergraduate Outreach Initiative organized collaboratively by CAA’s Education Committee, Committee on Diversity Practices, Students and Emerging Professionals Committee, and the Division of Arts and Humanities, Council on Undergraduate Research.

Please contact Alexa Sand directly at alexa.sand@usu.edu with any questions.

Filed under: Annual Conference, Students — Tags:

Elpida Vouitsis presents at the 2020 Annual Conference in Chicago. Photo: Stacey Rupolo

CAA invites nominations and self-nominations for one at-large member of the Annual Conference Committee to serve a three-year term. The term begins February 2021, immediately following the 109th Annual Conference.

The Annual Conference Committee, working with the CAA Programs Department, selects the sessions and shapes the program of the Annual Conference. The committee ensures that the program reflects CAA’s goals for the conference, namely, to make it an effective place for intellectual, aesthetic, and professional learning and exchange; to reflect the diverse interests of the membership; and to provide opportunities for participation that are fair, equal, and balanced.

The Annual Conference Committee meets during the conference and at the call of the program chair and vice president for Annual Conference. Committee members also serve to support sessions comprised of individual papers and projects where a formal chair has not been identified.

Please send a 150-word letter of interest and a CV to Mira Friedlaender (mfriedlaender@collegeart.org), CAA manager of annual conference, by December 15, 2020.

Deadline: December 15, 2020

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We’re pleased to announce the appointment of three new editors for CAA publications: editor designate Eddie Chambers, who will take up his post as Editor-in-Chief of Art Journal, July 2021 – June 2024; Julie Nelson Davis, current Editor-in-Chief of caa.reviews, July 2020 – June 2023; and editor designate Stephanie Porras, who will take up her post as Reviews Editor of The Art Bulletin, July 2021 – June 2024. Learn more about their work below.

EDITOR BIOGRAPHIES

Eddie Chambers | Incoming Editor-in-Chief of Art Journal, July 2021 – June 2024

Eddie Chambers was born in Wolverhampton, England. He gained his PhD from Goldsmiths College, University of London in 1998, for his study of press and other responses to the work of a new generation of Black artists in Britain, active during the 1980s. He joined the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin in January 2010 where he is now a Professor. His books include Things Done Change: The Cultural Politics of Recent Black Artists in Britain (Rodopi Editions, Amsterdam and New York, 2012), Black Artists in British Art: A History Since the 1950s, (I. B. Tauris, London and New York, 2014, reissued 2015), and Roots & Culture: Cultural Politics in the Making of Black Britain, published 2017 (I. B. Tauris/Bloomsbury). He is the editor of the recently-published Routledge Companion to African American Art History. His forthcoming book is World is Africa: Writings on Diaspora Art (Bloomsbury, 2021).

Learn more about Art Journal.

Julie Nelson Davis | Current Editor-in-Chief of caa.reviews, July 2020 – June 2023

Julie Nelson Davis is Professor of the History of Modern Asian Art at the University of Pennsylvania. Recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities on Japanese prints and illustrated books, Davis teaches a wide range of courses on East Asian art and material culture in the greater global context. After receiving her BA from Reed College, Davis completed her MA and PhD from the University of Washington and studied at Gakushūin University in Tokyo. She is author of Utamaro and the Spectacle of Beauty (Reaktion Books, 2007 and 2021), Partners in Print: Artistic Collaboration and the Ukiyo-e Market (University of Hawai’i Press, 2015), and Picturing the Floating World: Ukiyo-e in Context (in press). Davis was recently a guest curator for the Freer and Sackler Galleries for an exhibition on Utamaro (2017) and is preparing an exhibition of Japanese illustrated books at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently working on a new project on issues of imitation, homage, and fakery in early modern Japanese art and their legacies into the present. In addition to her tenure as caa.reviews Editor-in-Chief from 2020 to 2023, Davis served as the field editor for Japanese art from 2001 to 2010 and a board member from 2007 to 2011.

Learn more about caa.reviews.

Stephanie Porras | Incoming Reviews Editor of The Art Bulletin, July 2021 – June 2024

Stephanie Porras is Associate professor of Art History in the Newcomb Art Department at Tulane University, specializing in early modern art made in Northern Europe and across the Spanish world. Author of Pieter Bruegel’s Historical Imagination (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2016) and Northern Renaissance Art: Courts, Commerce, Devotion (Laurence King, 2018), Porras has also published widely on topics ranging from Albrecht Dürer’s drawings to Hispano-Philippine ivories. Her current book project, The First Viral Images considers the mobility of early modern artworks and their role in processes of globalization, and has been supported by fellowships at the New York Public Library, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art.

Learn more about The Art Bulletin.

The following article was written in response to a call for submissions by CAA’s International Committee. It is by Kanwal Khalid, Director of the Punjab Archives, Lahore, Pakistan, and an alumna of the CAA-Getty International Program.

Figure 1. The Punjab Archives, housed in the Tomb of Anarkali, a building from the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir (1605-1627). (All photographs in this article provided by the author)

Having spent my career as a university professor, I recently was appointed the director of the Punjab Archives in Lahore. This rich collection is one of the best in South Asia and I am pleased to share a description of the institution, which also includes a library and museum, with readers of CAA News, who will soon be able to access many of the collection’s materials online.

The history of every nation is important and documents that reveal a nation’s history become increasingly precious over time. The majority of these documents are held in archives—collections that are both accumulations of historical data and repositories of record. Pakistan contains many rich archival collections: The National Archives of Pakistan and the National Documentation Centre, both located in Islamabad; the Sindh Archives in Karachi; and the Baluchistan Archives in Quetta. But the oldest of them all is the Punjab Archives in Lahore, located inside the Tomb of Anarkali.

The Punjab Archives is significant both for the immense value of its holdings and for the historical importance of its building (Fig.1), which was built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir (1605-1627). It was originally a tomb attributed to a woman named Anarkali, traditionally thought to be a concubine of Jahangir’s. According to the date written on the cenotaph, the monument was completed in 1615. The building has witnessed many ups and downs in its four-hundred-year history. After the annexation of Punjab by the British in 1849, the building was used as storage for documents pouring in from all parts of South Asia that were under the control of the British Raj. Two years later it became a church used for Sunday services, but in 1891 it was declared a record office.

Figure 2. Inside view of the Archives.

Punjab Archives Collection

The Punjab Archives (Figs. 2, 3a-b) holds one of the largest repositories of documents in South Asia and it is responsible for the safekeeping of official documents and records of the Pakistan government. It houses census reports, civil and military gazettes, official files, historical documents, manuscripts, handouts, brochures, pamphlets, maps, notifications, memoranda, lithographs, research papers, journals, magazines, newspapers and periodicals. Many of these cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The archive also includes a fine collection of miniature paintings and seals.

The records in the Punjab Archives date back to the seventeenth century and cover the Mughal, precolonial, colonial and postcolonial eras in South Asia. Primarily the collection consists of:

  • Persian Record of Mughal Period, 1629-1858
  • Persian Record of Sikh Period, 1799-1849
  • Akhbar Darbar-e-Lahore (Daily Court Proceedings of Sikh Rulers), 1835-1849
  • Persian Record of British Period, 1809-1890
  • Old Persian Newspapers, 1840-1845
  • Colonial Agencies Record, 1804-1849
  • Record of Princely States in Punjab, 1849-1947
  • Record After the Annexation, 1849 to 1947
  • Record After Independence, 1947

Figure 3a, b. Beautifully illuminated wooden boards used as file holders, first half of 19th century.

The Archival Library

Sir Edward Meclagan served as chancellor of University of the Punjab (1919-1924) and Governor of Punjab (1923). He was a historian whose passion for knowledge is evidenced by his donation of rare and out of print books to the Archives. This initiative led to the establishment of a small but important library that still exists today.

Figure 4. The oldest book in the Archives Library, Sir Thomas Roe’s Journal, 1616.

The collection consists of biographies, reports and travelogues. Currently the library holds more than 70,000 highly valuable reference books. The oldest book is a memoir, Journal of Sir Thomas Roe, which dates to 1616 and recounts the author’s journey to different parts of India (Fig. 4).

Figure 5. The central hall of the tomb, housing the Archives Museum.

Archives Museum

Another person who played an important role for the Archives was Lord Malcolm Hailey. He went one step beyond his predecessor and established a small museum in 1924 in the central hall of the tomb (Fig. 5). This collection, still maintained today, contains portraits of important Lahore personalities (Fig. 6), along with paintings, prints, maps and lithographs. Mughal Farmans (proclamations), important official letters, old stamps, medals, weapons, and miniatures are also on display (Fig. 7).

Digitization

Figure 7. A message from the Queen of England to the viceroy on the completion of the telegraph line to India, 1860.

Figure 6. A general of Ranjit Singh’s army, General Avitabile, early 19th century.

For the past several years, the Punjab Archives has been in the process of digitizing its collection to improve accessibility to scholars. Approximately 500,000 pages of historic documents are currently being scanned and catalogued, precluding the need to move the fragile original documents, thus minimizing their wear and tear. A web portal will make these digitized documents accessible under the authorization of the Punjab Archives. This project is a first step towards a long-term strategy of modernizing the Punjab Archives and Libraries. To date, more then 120,000 pages have been digitized. Although the project was scheduled to be completed by June 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought all activities to a standstill. Once completed, the archives online services will be a primary resource for scholars throughout the world. In the meantime we are providing information to any researcher who contacts the Archives Department by email at archivesdirectorate@gmail.com.

RAAMP (Resources for Academic Art Museum Professionals) has a new home! Moving forward, you can find all the resources you know and love here on our website at: collegeart.org/raamp

A project of CAA with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, RAAMP aims to strengthen the educational mission of academic museums and their parent organizations by providing a publicly accessible repository of resources, online forums, and relevant news and information. RAAMP’s coffee gatherings and video practica cover a wide variety of topics including advocacy, engagement, curricula building, cross-disciplinary collaboration, technology, development, and censorship.

EXPLORE RAAMP

To receive updates and invitations to upcoming RAAMP programming, sign up for the RAAMP mailing list.

For any questions regarding the RAAMP program, please contact Cali Buckley, grants and special programs manager, at: cbuckley@collegeart.org

An Update on the 2021 Annual Conference

posted by July 16, 2020

Dear CAA Members,

As you will hear Meme Omogbai, CAA executive director, say time and time again, “Mission first. People always.” So we start this letter with the wish that you are safe, healthy, and finding some time for self-care this summer.

We are writing to share where we are in planning the 109th CAA Annual Conference. We had hoped to celebrate the vast scholarship and practice of CAA members at a fully in-person conference in New York this February 10–13, 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of the months ahead—as well as increasing economic pressures on institutions and individuals, leading to diminished funds for professional development and travel—have caused us to rethink our plans.

We are now moving to a conference format that will include session content online. There are many factors in determining the costs and benefits to going online; these are currently being worked on by CAA staff and will continue to be addressed as we move forward. But making this decision now allows staff and the Annual Conference Committee time to plan for an iteration of the conference that will ensure the core benefits of the event are maintained: opportunities to share new research, listen to esteemed artists, designers, and scholars, and connect with peers. We are also looking at ways to present the in-person activities, dependent upon the state of the pandemic in early 2021. Thank you for your patience and flexibility over the next couple of months as the planning continues. We are creating a list to address your frequently asked questions; please email questions to programs@collegeart.org or to us personally.

SEE FAQS FOR 2021 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Our decision was informed by a robust response (almost 1,200 replies!) to a survey sent to members in May regarding their ideas about CAA hosting an online conference. Exceptionally useful feedback was provided in terms of what types of activities would be appealing to attend online, the value of in-person gatherings, and what price points seem reasonable. We are building on what you shared with us.

The Annual Conference Committee is currently reviewing the 800-plus proposal submissions and is on schedule to select those that will be included in the conference program. Our committees and staff are working hard to create a diverse and inclusive program and one that is broadly accessible.

While this time is filled with uncharted unknowns and anxieties, this is also an opportunity for us to build the organization that we want CAA to be. If you have the ability to give, we ask for your generosity. If you are able to give financially, wonderful—we need that help. Donations are not the only way to participate in our organization, however. We want your energy and your ideas. If you have connections and resources to share, we welcome them. If you know people who could benefit from our community, please spread the word. We are an organization of members. Join us.

CAA is an incredible coalition of individuals and institutions. If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it is that virtual platforms can allow us to communicate broadly and across borders. Difficult conversations can take place and together we can move forward and create an organization that advocates, shares, and brings others along with us.

Sincerely yours,

N. Elizabeth Schlatter
President, CAA
Deputy Director, University of Richmond Museums, Virginia

Meme Omogbai
Executive Director and CEO

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Nicole Archer.

We’re delighted to introduce readers to Nicole Archer, the current Editor-in-Chief of Art Journal Open (AJO), CAA’s online forum for the visual arts that presents artists’ projects, conversations and interviews, scholarly essays, and other forms of content from across the cultural field. Founded in 2012 as an open-access affiliate of Art JournalArt Journal Open has been independently edited since 2014. It remains open access and is always free to explore.

Nicole Archer researches contemporary art and design, with an emphasis in textile and garment histories. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Design at Montclair State University, where she extends this research through a teaching practice that encourages students to explore politics and aesthetics via close examinations of style, embodiment, and desire.

Amidst the end of the academic year, we corresponded with her over email to learn more about her research, her thoughts on the impact of COVID-19, and her aspirations for Art Journal Open.


Where are you from originally?

I was born in Brooklyn and raised mainly in South Florida, but I spent most of my adult life in San Francisco. In 2018, I returned to New York City.

What pathways led you to the work you do now?

My path has been shaped by a long line of committed feminist art historians, theorists, and activists who have inspired me to pursue work that is wildly curious, ethically responsible, and politically committed to issues of social justice. This, coupled with the fact that I started my college career in the mid-1990s, when the field of Visual Studies was demanding that Art History be held accountable for the role it played in supporting certain cultural hegemonies. It was a time when we were recognizing the benefit that many art historical methods could bring to critical cultural studies (and vice versa).

When did you first become a CAA member?

I have been a CAA member since 2011, but I was an avid reader of Art Journal and The Art Bulletin long before that (thanks to my library access).

What are you working on or thinking about currently?

I am currently finishing a book manuscript that considers how textiles (our key mediums of comfort and security) have been strategically manipulated over the last two decades to aid in the systematic reshaping of what constitutes “legitimate” versus “illegitimate” forms of state violence. The book tells interwoven, materially grounded stories regarding global arts and design practice, on the one hand, and military, police, and governmental action, on the other, to theorize how feelings of insecurity are produced, aesthetically.

My path has been shaped by a long line of committed feminist art historians, theorists, and activists who have inspired me to pursue work that is wildly curious, ethically responsible, and politically committed to issues of social justice.

What are your thoughts on the impact of COVID-19 on the work you do? On the field?

I think the current pandemic makes two things particularly clear. First, it highlights the important role that art and design can play in helping a society understand (and bear) emergent and acutely difficult circumstances. From movie marathons, artist talks, and book readings that we have enjoyed during our nights spent ‘sheltering in place,’ to the protest banners, photographs, and balcony performances that have led our communities towards acts of collective care and solidarity with one another.

Second, COVID-19 puts the varied inequities that underwrite the field in high relief. It makes the economic precarity of so many cultural workers glaringly obvious, and it forces us to recognize how undervalued cultural work actually is. We need to ask why we have allowed the arts to become so defunded and privatized (despite the social value it clearly delivers). Calls for austerity are circulating, and we know this means further cuts to already underfunded public arts initiatives. We need to resist this and seize this moment as an opportunity to insist on our value. We need to stop undercutting ourselves and our peers, and refuse to accept the exploitation of adjunct professors and graduate student teachers. We must do this as we push against the increasingly prohibitive costs of arts education.

What led you to be interested in working on Art Journal Open?

It is our shared responsibility, as arts and design professionals, to constantly “check” our field of practice—to find time to celebrate what we are doing well, and to redress and learn from our shortcomings. I believe this responsibility is a cornerstone of AJO’s editorial mission. Working on AJO is a unique opportunity to hold myself, and others, accountable on this front.

What is your vision for Art Journal Open during your tenure?

I hope to build on the solid foundation laid by the journal’s previous editors, and to further emphasize the open dimension of the publication’s identity—to treat “Open” as a verb, a call to action. We hope to accomplish this by leveraging the journal’s digital format, to open space for more multi-media Creative Projects, and to take advantage of our lack-of-paywall to help draw new readers to AJO and new voices to CAA.

The first three pieces published after Nicole Archer fully took over as Editor-in-Chief of Art Journal Open.

What would you say is your top arts-related recommendation (book, website, resource) at the moment?

I know I am late to this, but I recently found an online radio station called NTS and it is giving me life! I miss trusting my night to a DJ, hearing a new song out of nowhere, and dancing with strangers. I am also tired of soundscapes controlled by algorithms. People should give it a listen in their studios and kitchens, and at their computers and writing desks.

 

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A favorite artwork?

Last year, I had the opportunity to see Sonya Clark’s Monumental Cloth, The Flag We Should Know at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since. Clark’s work epitomizes the important role art can play in ensuring that political discourse maintains its complexity in the face of a mediascape set on transforming these conversations into flat lines in the sand.

At the center of the exhibit was a monumental replica (15’x30’) of a white dish towel waived by Confederate troops in April 1865, before General E. Lee negotiated the terms of the Confederacy’s surrender. Displayed in a manner akin to the Star Spangled Banner (a centerpiece of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s collection), Monumental Cloth presented the Confederate Truce Flag as testament to a decisive moment in US history. It demanded that we ask why we do not know this flag, as a means to discuss anti-Blackness and the persistence of white supremacy in the United States. It provided a poignant, aesthetic counterstrategy to other manners of “memorializing” the Confederacy. The exhibit offered spaces of contemplation alongside opportunities for direct action—by setting-up looms that visitors could use to weave additional Truce Flag replicas, in opposition to the endless flow of commercially produced items made to bear the image of the Confederate Battle Flag.

What are you looking forward to?

Honestly, I am looking forward to the end of the Trump presidency, and to the possibility that the moment we are in could force real political and cultural change; that conversations around universal basic income and healthcare will gain traction, and that widespread recognition of the systemic racism inherent in the criminal justice system will open the door to both abolishing the prison system and defunding and demilitarizing the police that tyrannize communities of color in the US.

NICOLE ARCHER BIOGRAPHY

Nicole Archer researches contemporary art and design, with an emphasis in textile and garment histories. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Design at Montclair State University, where she extends this research through a teaching practice that encourages students to explore politics and aesthetics via close examinations of style, embodiment, and desire.

Her work has been published in various journals, edited collections, and arts publications, including: Criticism: A Quarterly Journal for Literature and the Arts; Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture; Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (published by the New Museum + MIT Press); Where are the Tiny Revolts? (published by the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts + Sternberg Press); Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory.


Explore Art Journal Open.

Filed under: AJO, Art History, CAA Conversations, Publications — Tags:

Joni Boyd Acuff and Amelia Kraehe

posted by June 08, 2020

The CAA Conversations Podcast continues the vibrant discussions initiated at our Annual Conference. Listen in 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, our guests discuss “My ‘Aha’ Moment: Recognizing Racism in Art and Art Education.”

Joni Boyd Acuff, PhD is an Associate Professor at The Ohio State University, whose work centers the intersections of race and gender in arts education research, pedagogy, and practice.

Amelia Kraehe, who more often goes by Amy, is currently an Associate Professor with tenure at the University of Arizona. Her research, teaching and community engagement focus on how the arts and arts education can challenge as well as reinforce systems of inequality. She co-edited The Palgrave Handbook on Race and the Arts in Education (2018) and is working on a new book with Joni Acuff, titled Race and Art Education.

Filed under: CAA Conversations, Podcast — Tags:

We are delighted to welcome Dr. Kellie Jones, professor in Art History and Archaeology and the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia University, as the Distinguished Scholar for the 108th CAA Annual Conference in Chicago, February 12-15, 2020.

Dr. Jones, whose research interests include African American and African Diaspora artists, Latinx and Latin American Artists, and issues in contemporary art and museum theory, is the recipient of awards from the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University, Creative Capital, and Warhol Foundation, among others. In 2016, she was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. In 2018, Dr. Jones was the inaugural recipient of the Excellence in Diversity Award from CAA.

CAA media and content manager Joelle Te Paske spoke with Dr. Jones earlier this fall to learn about what she’s working on and looking forward to in upcoming exhibitions and scholarship. Read the interview below.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Dr. Kellie Jones. Photo: Rod McGaha

Hi, Professor Jones. Thank you for taking the time for this interview. It’s an honor to speak with you and we’re excited that you’ll be with us in Chicago.

I’m looking forward to it.

Great. So to begin—to locate ourselves in time and place—how are you? How was your summer?

It’s always fun, and it always ends too quickly. I think that’s just normal. [Laughs]

Yes, I guess that’s where we should be at this point [laughs]. Were you working on a particular project this summer?

Yes. I was working on a project for Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). Huey Copeland of Northwestern University and Steven Nelson of UCLA are spearheading a Black Modernisms seminar with a group of scholars. I just finished an essay on the Harlem Renaissance that is still to be titled. I haven’t written extensively on that period so I’m really looking forward to hearing back from them. It involves race and gender and I’m very excited about it.

What else is exciting in your work right now?

Candida Alvarez: Here, A Visual Reader (Green Lantern Press 2019), the first major monograph on the Chicago-based painter, is about to hit shops. I’m excited by this project to which I contributed the essay, “When Painting Stepped Out to Lunch.” I have book that I’m finishing on global conceptual art networks that is tentatively titled Art is an Excuse, on how conceptual art allowed for different types of global connections. One great example is Senga Nengudi and her relationship to Japan which is something I’ve written about earlier but I wanted to more forthrightly connect to Japanese conceptualism. So how does Senga Nengudi fit into that dialogue, or what is her dialogue? I’m thinking about conceptual art as a motor for global art connection, different from what people call globalization—more like artist dialogues, not neoliberal globalization.

A macro view.

The book is more about relationships. We always think about artists in their particular nationalist space. What did Japanese conceptualism look like? What did Latin American conceptualism look like? How were they different? But we really don’t talk about the kind of dialogue that people have with each other. That’s really the whole premise of the project.

That’s terrific. I read that for undergrad at Amherst College you made an interdisciplinary major. I was going to ask: Has an interdisciplinary outlook been formative in your career? But I feel you’re already embodying that.

You’re absolutely right. I created an interdisciplinary major at Amherst. Shout out to my alma mater and to liberal arts education.

We love that at CAA, yes.

And we love it because it allows people to see the breadth of the world in some fashion and then choose something or choose a few things. I’m one of the people that thought about Latin American and African American and Latinx artists at least from my college years, and I’ve been going with that for the longest, along with ideas of the African diaspora. You might start out with “Let’s compare”—the comparative structure; the binary is such a signature of art history. But then you realize that it’s so much more than a just a binary—the interdisciplinarity, the multidisciplinarity. That’s always been a part of what I’ve looked at because at that time—and I know I’ve said it on numerous occasions in numerous platforms—art history was really taught one way. Because I had grown up in New York I said, “But wait a minute, they’re leaving out all of these people that are making art that I know!” That I see every week. I mean, how is that possible? So I started there and just kept going.

I also read that you wanted to be a diplomat originally, and that makes sense to me. I think art historians are often part-diplomats, part-detectives, part-scientists. There’s so much that goes into the field.

Absolutely. I wanted to get away from art. I grew up with artists and poets and I said, “Oh my god, these people are broke. I can’t do that.”

Well, that’s realistic—I suppose it’s changed, too.

It’s absolutely changed, but if you’re thinking about late 1970s—wow. People weren’t even thinking about objects too much.

Someone reminded me much later—maybe a couple of years ago—they said, “Well you know, you’ve been doing [diplomacy] with art. You’ve been a cultural ambassador with this work, because you’ve done shows around the world.” Art history became, “Wow, you can do the same things.” You can study languages. You can travel. It did become a way you could do all those things, and then of course as you just mentioned, as a curator you are a diplomatic entity between artists and the institution.

As a liaison, definitely. It’s sensitive.

Right. Even as an academic, if you’re traveling around or if you’re representing a contemporary artist in your writing—how do you balance how the artist sees themselves with what you have to say? There’s always that.

I’m curious what you see as emerging trends in scholarship, especially in art history. 

I think students and academics—particularly a new generation—don’t want traditional art history as we have known it. They want a more interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, global understanding of art in the world. Art history is not just Europe, and it’s not just the United States. And the art of the United States meaning not just New York!

I think the other really exciting arena is, of course, gender. Gender studies. Queer studies in art history. Trans studies. All those things really change how we understand the object, how we understand history, the histories that we look for. There’s a similarity to the discoveries that I made when I was a student in college about how art history at that time did not represent even the histories of African Americans who were in New York, for instance. United States art history is written from a New York-centric perspective. And at that time, you didn’t see too many women in it. You didn’t see too many African Americans or Latinx figures. So now that such subjects are more widely known the next step seems to be to ask,”What is a queer art history?” And some people have been doing this for a while: Jonathan Weinberg, James Smalls, Julia Bryan-Wilson has brought us into the present with some of these ideas, and C. Ondine Chavoya with his Axis Mundo, project. So all these ideas are becoming more visible and I think it’s really exciting.

That’s one of the reasons why I’ve been so keen on my Harlem Renaissance article. It started out in one way, and then it took me in another direction; it takes another look at objects that have been dismissed as not being relevant, and sees them  through a different lens. It opens up other paths into these works that have been discarded. Or maybe not discarded, but put to the side. Let’s ask, “What’s going on with gender in these works?” What’s going on with queerness, and how do they signify to a Harlem Renaissance that is quite queer? It’s something people in literature have discovered, certainly in the African American context, and they’ve been talking about that for years. Art history has to catch up.

Yes, you feel a real energy in the field, a real hunger for it. With recent protests around Warren Kanders at the Whitney Museum, what are your views on that momentum? [Editor’s note: Since this conversation took place, Warren Kanders announced his resignation from the Whitney Museum board.]

Well, you know, there have always been protests at US museums as well as those around the world. So whether you are a curator or a director who bares the brunt of the protest, or you are an artist who withdraws, you’re part of history. Scholars down the road are going to say, “These people pulled out. These people wrote a letter. These were the curators. These were the board members.” So for me it’s just part of history, and it has ebbs and flows. There are a lot of things going on in this world that artists are addressing, that artists see. They do respond to the world in one way or another. You may not see it visibly, but it’s there.

I agree. I think putting new ideas in the world the way artists do is cultural change, and like you said—it’s interconnected. You can’t really have one without the other.

Yes. It’s part of a larger history.

I think students and academics—particularly a new generation—don’t want traditional art history as we have known it.

When did you first join CAA? Do you have a favorite memory from a conference?

I had joined CAA by 1990, when I served as the co-chair of the programming at the Annual Meeting for the Studio or Artists’ sessions with Robert Storr. I’ve been on plenty of panels since then, but to be honored in this way is humbling and exciting. Even better, all of the respondents I asked to participate on the Distinguished Scholar panel said, “Yes! I’ll be a part of it.” So I’m thrilled about that. I’ve been at Columbia University about 13 years, and I remember when Rosalind Krauss was honored, and I participated in Richard J. Powell’s Distinguished Scholar panel. So to step into those shoes, it seems a bit surreal.

Thinking of Chicago in 2020—do you have a favorite art-related excursion there?

Well, the South Side Community Art Center is legendary. It’s one of the original community art centers from the New Deal era, and it’s still in existence. I would definitely say go to that. That’s my favorite.

I’m marking it down for myself. Are there exhibitions coming up this fall that you recommend?

Senga Nengudi at Lenbachhaus in Munich; Robert Colescott at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati curated by Lowery Sims and Matthew Weseley; Lynette Yiadom-Boakye at Yale Center for British Art curated by Hilton Als; Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal…, his first major survey at the Portland Art Museum. Curator Meg Onli at ICA Philadelphia has done a trio of shows under the title Colored People Time. The final component Banal Presents will be on view through December 22, 2019.

Shows that are further out that I’m excited about are Prospect 5 in New Orleans (Fall 2020), curated by Naima Keith and Diana Nawi. The citywide triennial in New Orleans is just a great experience. Everyone should check it out. Thomas Lax’s exhibition on Just Above Midtown gallery, that generative space of 1970s and 1980s, and its founder Linda Goode Bryant, will be wonderful to see at MoMA in 2022.

There are so many great young curators out here. Rujeko Hockley, Erin Christovale, numerous others. Tiona Nekkia McClodden is an artist who’s been doing some great archival curatorial work. She had a show that was in response to the anniversary of Mapplethorpe’s The Perfect Moment that just closed. There are just so many great people out here doing some wonderful things, and a lot of wonderful younger artists. I’m excited by it. We started out by talking about multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity—young curators are invested in that idea as much as scholars.

Oh and one thing that I’m really looking forward to down the line is, of course, the reopening of the Studio Museum in Harlem. I cannot wait for that!

Yes! It’s a ways off but that’s an exciting one. Well, thank you Dr. Jones. I appreciate you taking the time, and it’s been a pleasure to speak with you.

Thanks for your questions, and again it’s really an honor to be a part of this whole thing. I still kind of can’t believe it. I guess I will in February when I step off that plane!

The Distinguished Scholar Session honoring Kellie Jones will take place Thursday, February 13, 2020, from 4-5:30 PM at the Hilton Chicago, Grand Ballroom.

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Biography of Dr. Kellie Jones

Dr. Kellie Jones is a Professor in Art History and Archaeology and African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University. Her research interests include African American and African Diaspora artists, Latinx and Latin American Artists, and issues in contemporary art and museum theory.

Dr. Jones, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has also received awards for her work from the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University and Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation. In 2016 she was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow.

Dr. Jones’s writings have appeared in a multitude of exhibition catalogues and journals.  She is the author of two books published by Duke University Press, EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art (2011), and South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s (2017), which received the Walter & Lillian Lowenfels Criticism Award from the American Book Award in 2018 and was named a Best Art Book of 2017 in The New York Times and a Best Book of 2017 in Artforum.

Dr. Jones has also worked as a curator for over three decades and has numerous major national and international exhibitions to her credit.  Her exhibition “Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960-1980,” at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, was named one of the best exhibitions of 2011 and 2012 by Artforum, and best thematic show nationally by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA). She was co-curator of “Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the 1960s” (Brooklyn Museum), named one the best exhibitions of 2014 by Artforum.

The following article was written in response to a call for submissions by CAA’s International Committee. It is by Swati Chembakuran architectural historian at Jnanapravaha, a center for the arts in Mumbai, India. The author is also a 2019 alumna of the CAA-Getty International Program.  

Vibrancy in Stone: Masterpieces of the Đà Nẵng Museum of Cham Sculpture, by Trần Kỳ Phương, V. Văn Thắng, and Peter D. Sharrock. Photographs by Paisarn Piemmettawat (Bangkok: River Books, 2018)

In 2018, the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) partnered with the Đà Nẵng Museum of Cham Sculpture in central Vietnam to produce a remarkable and visually striking centenary catalogue of its world-renowned collection of the sacred arts of the Cham people of Vietnam. The publication of Vibrancy in Stone: Masterpieces of the Đà Nẵng Museum of Cham Sculpture was timed to coincide with the renovation and expansion of the museum. 

Beginning in the second century CE, settlements appeared along the central coast of what became Vietnam. The Chams probably migrated over the ocean from Borneo and were accomplished navigators. Their ports were the first call for any ship heading from China to India and the Arab world. Their role in the medieval maritime trade grew steadily and reached an apogee in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when the great neighboring empire of Cambodia declined. The prosperity won from trade led to large scale temple construction earlier than the Cambodians.  

Figure 1. Map of Cham archaeological sites in Vietnam

When tourism resumed in Vietnam after the wars of the twentieth century, the museum quickly became a prime attraction in the port city of Đà Nẵng. It is the world’s only museum devoted exclusively to the art of ancient Champa, the name given to the civilization of the Cham people. With 500 objects on displayits collection far outnumbers those in the Hanoi and Ho chi Minh City History museums, as well as the Musée Guimet in Paris. 

Figure 2. Đà Nẵng Museum, Vietnam Photo: Trần Kỳ Phương

In the late nineteenth century, fifty sculptures were gathered by French colonial administrator and amateur/enthusiastic collector, Charles Lemire, in a public garden at Tourane (Đà Nẵng)forming the embryo of the future museum collection. Some years laterFrench architect and archaeologist Henri Parmentier took charge of the neglected artworks and proposed a museum for their protection, which opened in 1919 (Fig. 2). He compiled the first comprehensive catalogue 

French colonial research formed the basis of Cham studies. Today a growing number of Vietnamese archaeologists and art historians are taking an active interest in this subject, expanding our understanding of the ancient art. Ethnic Cham scholars still remain few in number. Almost seventy years after Parmentier’s catalogue, a short guidebook to the museum was published about Cham history and art (Trần Kỳ Phương, 1987). It marked the first catalogue of the collection compiled by Vietnamese researchers and highlighted the link between Vietnamese and French research. After the devastating twentieth-century wars in Vietnam, some of the objects in Parmentier’s 1919 catalogue had disappeared, been damaged, or moved to other institutions. At the same time, many recently discovered artifacts have been added to the museum inventory.  

Knowledge of Champa’s history, culture, and art, and an appreciation of its richness and uniqueness, has gradually progressed with the accumulation of new data and the engagement of various scholarly disciplines by both national and international scholars. Champa studies no longer appear in only French-language journals, as in the early twentieth century, but now attract a growing number of scholars from Europe, Asia, and North America, who work alongside Vietnamese experts 

Vibrancy in Stone is organized into two parts. Part I includes fourteen essays about the history and culture of Champa by Vietnamese and international scholars. Part II presents a stunningly illustrated chronology of Cham sculpture accompanied by meticulous descriptions and comments by contemporary scholars.  

The introductory essay by museum director Vo Văn Thắng discusses the history of the museum, its collection, changing installations over the years, and the current renovation and expansion of the building. Subsequent essays by Kenneth Hall, John Whitmore and Đỗ Trường Giang address the importance of several Champa ports extending along the central Vietnam coast and their active role in the maritime trade network. Champa was probably never a unified state or kingdom but rather a series of loosely linked smaller polities. Its capitals were widely separated settlements on different parts of the coast, which took turns assuming hegemony over others.  

Whitmore’s essay delineates fully for the first time the rise of Vijaya (in today’s Bình Đinh province) as the culture’s capital in the ninth century to its sudden demise in the fifteenth century.  

Several essays address the Hindu-Buddhist religion, its rituals, archeology, and inscribed objects (by Shivani Kapoor, Ann-Valérie Schweyer, John GuyArlo Griffiths, Lâm Thị Mỹ Dung, and—full  disclosure—myselfwhile others (by Trần Kỳ Phương and Parul Pandya Dhar) focus on the architecture, taking the reader through the history of Cham temples and highlighting the evolution of key construction techniques and design features that produced a series of tall, distinctive and elegant brick towers along the coastline (Fig. 3) 

Figure 3. Mỹ Sơn valley temple displaying long, elegant brick sanctuaries Photo: Trần Kỳ Phương

The iconography of the beautiful and vibrant Cham sculptures erected in these towers—referenced in the catalogue title—is the subject of chapters by Thierry Zéphir, Grace Chiao-Hui Tu, and Peter D. Sharrock. Cham art has hitherto been almost exclusively studied through an Indic lens but Hui-Tu’s work brings out many new and unseen Sinitic aspects in Cham sacred art. For example, ninth century monumental sandstone Buddha from Đồng Dương monastery is seated in the European” position with pendant feet and palms resting on the knees (Fig. 4). While Buddhas seated with pendant legs can be found in Indian, Southeast Asian, and Chinese Buddhist art traditions, this particular hand posture is seen only in China and Đồng Dương. 

Figure 4. Đồng Dương pedestal from Đồng Dương, Quảng Nam. 9th century, sandstone, 30 x 177 x 70 in. (76 x 449 x 389 cm); sandstone dais supporting the Buddha, 28 x 87 x 49 in. (70 x 222 x 124 cm). BTC 177-178 Photo: Paisarn Piemmettawat

The question of the relationship between Cham and neighboring Khmers forms the core of the paper by Peter D. Sharrock. Addressing the beautiful Khmer bronze of a naga-enthroned Buddha discovered by the French in the main Cham temple outside Vijaya, he points out that this icon was never part of Cham iconography. Hthen uses art historical and epigraphic evidence to untie a series of long-distorting knots in the history of the Khmer-Cham relationship. 

Part II of Vibrancy in Stone focuses on masterpieces of the museum, one of which is the beautiful bronze illustrated in Figure 5, found in the Đồng Dương monastery in 1978. Earlier labelled as Tārā or Prajñāparāmita, here it has been correctly identified as the female aspect of Avalokitesvara and the main cult image of the monastery. 

Figure 5. Lakṣmīndra-Avalokiteśvara, 9th century bronze found in the monastery of Đồng Dương. height 6 in. (115 cm). Attributes: lotus (right hand) and conch broken at the time of discovery. BTC 1651-BTĐN 535 Photo: Paisarn Piemmettawat

Other masterpieces include the most famous Mỹ Sơn Śivalinga pedestal (Fig. 6a-b), the only Cham sculpture that records the daily spiritual activities of ascetics performing rituals, practicing meditation, conversing, playing musical instruments, treating diseases, etc., and a widely acknowledge high relief of Trà Kiệu dancer draped in beads (Fig. 7). 

Figure 6a. Mỹ Sơn, 8th century temple pedestal displaying several daily ascetic activities, sandstone, 25 ½ x 107 x 131 in. (65 x 271 x 333 cm). BTC 6-22.4 Photo: Trần Kỳ Phương

Figure 6b. Details of the ascetic activities depicted on the Mỹ Sơn pedestal. Photo: Paisarn Piemmettawat

Figure 7. Trà Kiệu dancer/apsaras, Trà Kiệu, Quàng Nam, 11th century, sandstone, 43 x 106 in. (110 x 270 cm). BTC 118/1-22.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vibrancy in Stone brings together some of the most priceless and rare works of Cham art. As such, it proclaims the value and artistry of works by the Cham people whose heirs today are an ethnic minority in Vietnam. Equally important, it gathers together these beautiful and rare works of art as a resource for scholars, students, and connoisseurs alike.  

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