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We’re delighted to announce that N. Elizabeth Schlatter was elected at our October Board meeting as the new President of the CAA Board of Directors. She will succeed Jim Hopfensperger and serve a two-year term beginning May 1, 2020.

N. Elizabeth Schlatter is Deputy Director and Curator of Exhibitions at the University of Richmond Museums, Virginia. A museum administrator, curator, and writer, she focuses on modern and contemporary art and on topics related to curating and issues specific to university museums. At UR, she has curated more than 20 exhibitions, including recent group exhibitions of contemporary art such as “Crooked Data: (Mis)Information in Contemporary Art,” “Anti-Grand: Contemporary Perspectives on Landscape,” and “Art=Text=Art: Works by Contemporary Artists,” She also serves on and chairs various University and School of Arts & Sciences committees. Prior to the University of Richmond, she worked with exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in Washington, D.C, and in fundraising at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston. She is author of Museum Careers: A Practical Guide for Novices and Students (Left Coast Press, Inc.) and a contributor to A Life in Museums: Managing Your Museum Career (American Association of Museums). She has a B.A. in art history from Southwestern University in Texas, and an M.A. in art history from George Washington University.

Prior to this elected position, Schlatter was completing a 4-year term as a CAA board member, elected in February 2016. During that time, she served as Vice President for Annual Conference for two years, and in 2019 she served on the Nominating Committee and the Strategic Plan Task Force. She jointly initiated and assisted with the development of CAA’s Resources for Academic Art Museums Professionals (RAAMP), and prior to joining CAA’s board, she was chair of the Museum Committee.

Offer valid November 1, 2019–November 30, 2019

November is the perfect time to rejoin CAA. We know your membership has lapsed, but we want you back! For the month of November, lapsed members will receive 25% off their membership.

We’re about to unveil the full schedule for the 2020 Annual Conference in Chicago, February 12-15, 2020. Registration for the Annual Conference opened October 1 and we look forward to a robust program this February. If you haven’t been to a conference recently, we’ve launched a number of new programs, including Idea Exchange and Professional Development Workshops, designed to provide professional support and networking opportunities.

New grants for funding research and travel are now available. We recently announced that we will be administering the Terra Foundation for American Art Research Travel Grants, and we just opened the application portal for the Art History Special Exhibition Travel Fund, which awards up to $10,000 to students and faculty for museum exhibition travel in connection with their studies.

CAA is growing and changing all the time, working to support the arts and humanities and all professionals in the field.

RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP

There has never been a better time to rejoin CAA!

We look forward to seeing you at the 108th CAA Annual Conference in Chicago, February 12-15, 2020.

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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.

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.

For the second year in a row, we’re pleased to partner with Kiddie Corp to offer onsite childcare at the Annual Conference.

Care will be available for ages 6 months to 12 years of age, at a rate of $12 an hour, on Thursday, February 12 and Friday, February 13, 2020, from 8 AM – 8 PM.

Kiddie Corp programs feature arts and crafts, group games, music and movement, board games, story time, dramatic play, and many more engaging activities. Kiddie Corp is in its 33rd year of providing childcare services at conferences and trade shows and has a longstanding partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Conference attendees in need of childcare during the conference should pre-register for care. A minimum number of children must register for the service by December 3rd in order to allow CAA to offer onsite childcare in the Hilton Chicago. Please note: If we do not have enough enrollment, onsite childcare will be canceled. 

SIGN UP FOR CHILDCARE

Sign up deadline: December 3, 2019

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We’re delighted to announce the following guests will be presenting at the 108th CAA Annual Conference, taking place February 12-15, 2020, at the Hilton Chicago.

Keynote Speaker

Amanda Williams. Photo: David Kasnic Photography

The Keynote Speaker for the 108th CAA Annual Conference will be Amanda Williams. A visual artist who trained as an architect, Williams’s creative practice navigates the space between art and architecture, through works that employ color as a way to highlight the political complexities of race, place and value in cities. Williams has received critical acclaim including being named a USA Ford Fellow and a Joan Mitchell Foundation grantee. Her works have been exhibited widely and are included in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She lives and works on the South Side of Chicago.

CAA Convocation featuring Amanda Williams’s keynote will take place Wednesday, February 12, 2020, from 6-7:30 PM at the Hilton Chicago, Grand Ballroom. Free and open to the public. 

Distinguished Scholar

The Distinguished Scholar for the 108th CAA Annual Conference will be Dr. Kellie Jones, 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. Kellie Jones. Photo: Rod McGaha

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 ArtforumRead our interview with Kellie Jones.

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

Distinguished Artist Interviews

The Distinguished Artist Interviews will feature artist Sheila Pepe interviewed by John Corso Esquivel, and artist Arnold J. Kemp interviewed by Huey Copeland.

Sheila Pepe. Photo: Rachel Stern

Sheila Pepe  is a cross-disciplinary artist employing conceptualism, surrealism, and craft to address feminist and class issues. Hot Mess Formalism, Pepe’s most recent solo exhibition organized by the Phoenix Art Museum, traveled to the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York; Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Nebraska; and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts between 2017 and 2019. A catalogue for the exhibition featured essays by by Julia Bryan-Wilson, Elizabeth Dunbar, Lia Gangitano, and curator Gilbert Vicario.

Other texts, all published in 2019, feature Pepe’s work: Vitamin T: Threads, and Textiles in Contemporary Art, the revised Art and Queer Culture by Catherine Lord and Richard Meyer, both published by Phaidon, and Feminist Subjectivities in Fiber Art and Craft: Shadows of Affect by John Corso Esquivel.

Venues for Pepe’s many other solo exhibitions include the Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, and the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina. Her work has been included in important group exhibitions, most recently Fiber: Sculpture 1960- Present, curated by Janelle Porter, organized by the ICA Boston; Queer Abstraction, curated by Jared Ladesema, organized by the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa and Even Thread Has Speech, curated by Shannon Stratton for the John Michael Kohler Art Center, Wisconsin.

John Corso Esquivel is the Doris and Paul Travis Associate Professor of Art History at Oakland University.

Arnold J. Kemp. Photo: Todd Rosenberg for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Arnold J. Kemp is an interdisciplinary artist living in Chicago. The recurrent theme in his drawings, photographs, sculptures and writing is the permeability of the border between self and the materials of one’s reality. Kemp’s works are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, The Portland Art Museum, The Schneider Museum of Art, and the Tacoma Art Museum. He has received awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the  Joan Mitchell Foundation, The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. His work has been exhibited recently in Chicago, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco and Portland. His work was also shown in TagProposals On Queer Play and the Ways Forward at the ICA Philadelphia. Kemp was a founding curator at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts from 1993-2003 and is currently the Dean of Graduate Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Read our interview with Arnold J. Kemp.

Huey Copeland is Arthur Andersen Teaching and Research Professor, Interim Director of the Black Arts Initiative (2019-2020), Associate Professor of Art History, and affiliated faculty in the Critical Theory Cluster, the Department of African American Studies, the Department of Art Theory & Practice, the Department of Performance Studies, and the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program at Northwestern University.

The Distinguished Artist Interviews will take place Friday, February 14, 2019, from 4-6:30 PM at the Hilton Chicago, Grand Ballroom. Free and open to the public. 

VISIT THE CONFERENCE SITE

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

HOTELS AND TRAVEL

We’re pleased to announce our administration of the Terra Foundation for American Art Research Travel Grants.

Now administered and juried by CAA, the Terra Foundation initiated this grant program in 2003 to fund European candidates. It was expanded to reach candidates worldwide in 2012, and opened to US-based researchers in 2017 to travel abroad, developing American art scholar networks around the world with a total of 173 grantees since its inception.

The Research Travel Grants will be awarded annually, providing 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.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with the Terra Foundation to provide continued support for scholars of American art,” said David Raizman, interim executive director of CAA. “Research funding for domestic and international scholars is essential to the vitality of the field, and these generous grants from the Terra Foundation will facilitate the advancement of their work. The inclusion of international scholars for these grants is especially gratifying, as it promotes new perspectives and engages the wider scholarly community.”

The grants foster firsthand engagement with American artworks and art-historical resources; build networks for non-US-based scholars studying American art; and expand access to artworks, scholarly materials, and communities for US-based scholars studying American art in an international context.

SEE APPLICATION CRITERIA

Awards of up to $9,000 will be granted on a per project basis by a jury formed by CAA. The first awards will be announced in March of 2020.

CAA’s administration of the Terra Foundation for American Art Research Travel Grants continues a long history at CAA of supporting travel and scholarship for professionals and students in the visual arts and design. Other grants offered by CAA include the Professional Development Fellowships for Graduate Students, the Terra Foundation for American Art International Publication Grant, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant, the Millard Meiss Publication Fund, the CAA Getty International Program, Travel Grants to the CAA Annual Conference, and introduced last year, the Art History Fund for Travel to Special Exhibitions.

ABOUT THE TERRA FOUNDATION FOR AMERICAN ART

The Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States for national and international audiences. Recognizing the importance of experiencing original works of art, the foundation provides opportunities for interaction and study, beginning with the presentation and growth of its own art collection in Chicago. To further cross-cultural dialogue on American art, the foundation supports and collaborates on innovative exhibitions, research, and educational programs. Implicit in such activities is the belief that art has the potential to both distinguish cultures and unite them.

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Submit a Proposal for Idea Exchange at CAA 2020

posted by September 16, 2019

Idea Exchange at the 2018 CAA Annual Conference. Photo: Rafael Cardenas

We launched Idea Exchange at the 2018 Annual Conference in Los Angeles in response to members who expressed an interest in holding informal roundtable discussions on topics ranging from fellowship applications and gallery representation to student engagement in the classroom and preserving women artists’ legacies. See a list of previous discussion topics here.

We’re offering Idea Exchange again in 2020 and we’re looking for CAA members to serve as discussion leaders.

Propose a topic that you would like to discuss with your colleagues for a sixty-minute roundtable at the conference. It can relate to professional development, teaching, or current events, such as the debate surrounding Confederate monuments or the #MeToo movement in the arts. Be creative. The conversations are meant to be lively and engaging. Please submit your Idea Exchange proposals by November 1, 2019.

SUBMIT IDEA EXCHANGE TOPIC

In order to submit an Idea Exchange topic, you will need to have your member ID and password ready. If you do not have an individual ID number and password or you do not know it, please contact member services by email at membership@collegeart.org or by phone at 212-691-1051, ext. 1.

Idea Exchange will be held in the Hilton Chicago, Lower Level, Salon B, during the following times:

Wednesday, February 12: 10:30 AM; 12:30 PM; 2:00 PM; 4:00 PM

Thursday, February 13: 10:30 AM; 12:30 PM; 2:00 PM; 4:00 PM

Friday, February 14: 10:30 AM; 12:30 PM; 2:00 PM; 4:00 PM

Saturday, February 15: 10:30 AM; 12:30 PM

For more information on Idea Exchange, contact Mira Friedlaender, manager of the Annual Conference, at mfriedlaender@collegeart.org or by phone at (212) 392-4405.

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Please share your comments using the form at the end of this post.

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.

CAA invites comments from our members regarding our position on the San Francisco Unified School District and its Board of Education’s decision to destroy, and later its reversal and decision to cover up, WPA-era murals by Victor Arnautoff at George Washington High School.

We spoke out against the initial vote, in opposition to the destruction of works of art and from the hope that creating a contextual reading of the murals might be of some value to the school and its students and an alternative to destroying them.

We also acknowledge that many, including CAA board members, find the murals offensive and damaging to the students’ learning environment, and supported the Board of Education’s decision.

Last month, during a reportedly contentious meeting, the School Board voted to cover up the murals rather than destroy them.

What do you think? Should the murals by Victor Arnautoff be covered up? Should they be destroyed? What are other alternatives?

More broadly, what place do controversial works of art hold in our society? What role do you feel CAA should play in these situations?

We want to know what you think and why. Let us know using the form, below.

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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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Announcing New CAA Professional Committees

posted by August 08, 2019

CAA is pleased to announce the creation of two new professional committees: a Committee on Research and Scholarship, and a Services to Historians of Visual Arts Committee. The new committees were approved by the Board of Directors at their May 2019 meeting. Concurrent with our annual call for new committee members, we seek applicants to form the inaugural teams for these two new committees.

The deadline for these applications is October 1, 2019for new committee service to begin at the Annual Conference in February 2020.  

Discussion group at 2018 CAA Annual Conference. Photo: Rafael Cardenas

The formation of these new committees responds to requests from our membership and to a desire to be forward-looking in addressing the professional needs of our fields.

The Committee on Research and Scholarship will offer a resource to all members engaged in the production or consumption of scholarly research.

The Services to Historians of Visual Arts Committee will identify and address concerns facing the historian members of our organization (encompassing specialists in any facets of art, architecture, design, material culture, and visual culture). 

The Services to Historians of Visual Arts Committee is intended to recognize our organization’s enduring support for historians, offering them a presence and a voice similar to the role played by other profession-specific committees in our organization (such as the Services to Artists Committee and the Committee on Design). As noted in the committee charge, the Services to Historians of Visual Arts Committee “offers a forum for the discussion of issues of mutual interest across the discipline’s many diverse fields and methodologies. In a climate of great threat to the survival of history of art and history of visual arts programs, this committee provides a locus for advocacy issues particular to historians in these areas of interest.” It is understood that the committee will play an active role in the Annual Conference but is also intended to serve as a central hub and resource for communication among historians of the visual arts well beyond the chronology of conference programming. 

As stated in the committee charge, the Committee on Research and Scholarship is charged with gathering information, [and] assessing and proposing organizational advocacy for CAA on matters concerning the research and scholarship in visual arts and design, encompassing all facets of research regarding history, theory, education and practice.” Specialists in the visual arts—whether practitioners or historians—face unique challenges in the production of their scholarship, such as the cost of image permissions, the closures or reorganization of academic presses, and/or the misalignment of the multiyear workflow of exhibitions or excavations against the strictures of a tenure clock. A scholar’s type of institutional affiliation, or independent scholar status, has an enduring impact on the types of research and scholarship that can be produced—arguably in more profound ways than in other humanities or arts fields. The Committee on Research and Scholarship will provide a vital hub to our members interested in addressing any of these areas of concern—or advancing other concerns or questions concerning the area of research and scholarship.  

If you wish to apply for either of these new committees, send an email to Vanessa Jalet at vjalet@collegeart.org with a brief  statement of interest and attach a reduced résumé (no more than 2-3  pages). 

Kindly also enter in the subject line:  “Applicant for Committee on Research and Scholarship” or “Applicant for Services to Historians of Visual Arts Committee”

Deadline: October 1, 2019   

Committee on Research and Scholarship Charge

The Committee on Research and Scholarship is charged with gathering information, assessing trends, and proposing organizational advocacy for CAA on matters concerning the advancement of research and scholarship in visual arts and design, encompassing all facets of research regarding history, education, and practice.  Recognizing that professionals must navigate a rapidly-transforming field of options for conducting research and disseminating the results thereof, the committee is responsible for assisting the organization in engaging with current issues and serving its membership in this important facet of their professional life. 

Services to Historians of Visual Arts Committee Charge

The Services to Historians of Visual Arts Committee identifies and addresses concerns facing historians of art, architecture, design, material culture, and visual culture.  It creates and implements programs and events at the conference and beyond.  It offers a forum for the discussion of issues of mutual interest across the discipline’s many diverse fields and methodologies. In a climate of great threat to the survival of history of art and history of visual arts programs, this committee provides a locus for advocacy issues particular to historians in these areas of interest.  The Committee lends support and mentorship for both seasoned and emerging professionals.  It is also charged with maintaining dialogue with other professional organizations and affiliated societies focused on the history of art, architecture, design, material culture and visual culture.  

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