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

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.

Filed under: Advocacy, Surveys — Tags:

Poster sessions at the 2018 CAA Annual Conference in Los Angeles. Photo: Rafael Cardenas

We’re excited to announce a Call for Participation for a special poster session dedicated to undergraduate research for the 2020 Annual Conference in Chicago, February 12-15. 

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 2020 to provide more opportunities for undergraduate participation.

Submissions should be sent via this google form by October 31, 2019.

Selected presenters will be notified by December 1 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:

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.  

Filed under: International — Tags:

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.  

Filed under: Art History, Committees, Research, Service — Tags:

In June, Amy Meyers ended a long and fruitful career as Director of the Yale Center for British Art, which she led for seventeen years. Prior to her appointment in 2002, she spent much of her career at research institutes including Dumbarton Oaks; the Center for Advanced Study in Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. She also taught at the California Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, Mount Vernon College, and Yale, and has written extensively on the visual and material culture of natural history in the transatlantic world.

Joelle Te Paske, CAA Media and Content Manager, corresponded with Amy over email to reflect upon her tenure at the YCBA, her experiences with CAA, and her plans for the future. Read the interview below.

Amy Meyers, Yale Center for British Art, photo by Michael Marsland

Joelle Te Paske: Amy, thank you so much for speaking with us. To begin, what pathways led you to the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA)?

Amy Meyers: There is no question that my experiences as a graduate student at Yale set the stage for my return to direct the Yale Center for British Art 25 years following my arrival as a doctoral candidate in American Studies, in the fall of 1977—the first year the magnificent collections of the newly opened YCBA were accessible to students.

Long Gallery after reinstallation, Yale Center for British Art, photo by Richard Caspole

I had come to Yale to write a dissertation on the photographers who accompanied the federal geological surveys of the American West following the Civil War, and my interest in the art of empire brought me to explore the staggering collections of paintings, prints, drawings, maps, rare books, and manuscripts amassed by the Center’s founder, Paul Mellon, relating to the depiction of the natural world, particularly in the Americas.

John Ruskin, Study of an Oak Leaf, undated, pen and brown ink with watercolor over graphite heightened with gouache and gum; verso: graphite on paper, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

The following spring, I enrolled in one of the first courses held at the Center—a seminar on Ruskin, taught by George Hersey. That course included students not only from the Department of the History of Art, but others, who, like me, were interested in the influence of Ruskin’s thought on many aspects of culture, particularly science. Professor Hersey’s important consideration of Ruskin as a major thinker of the nineteenth century, and the discussions that took place in that class between and amongst students, were foundational to my graduate education. I formed collegial friendships with many students who would go on to contribute significantly to art historical scholarship, both in academe and in museums, including David Curry, Bruce Robertson, George Shackelford, Mark Simpson, and Scott Wilcox—and these friendships have informed my scholarship and influenced the way in which I have approached the programs I have had the privilege to run, from the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, to the YCBA.

The interdisciplinarity of Professor Hersey’s class reflected Yale’s commitment to exploration across disciplinary boundaries in many areas of study—a commitment that was unusual at American universities in the 1970s. Jules Prown, who had been the YCBA’s first director, creating the institution in concert with Paul Mellon and a distinguished committee of Yale faculty members, was himself devoted to examining the history of art from a broad range of vantage points, and he and his colleagues built that approach into the Center’s culture, both as a research institute and as a public museum with teaching at its heart.

Unidentified man, Paul Mellon, Kenneth Froeberg, and Jules Prown, during the construction of the Yale Center for British Art, 1974, photo by William B. Carter, Yale Department of Public Information, Institutional Archives, Yale Center for British Art

I was privileged not only to study with Jules, but to have him as one of my dissertation advisors. I learned from him the value of the close examination of objects as primary to art historical research, as well as the importance of working collaboratively with groups of scholars in developing the richest, most productive, and enjoyable of research communities. Jules drew around him, through his exciting classes and seminars, a large and devoted coterie of students from across the university who were interested in cross-cultural studies, including art history and material culture—a field he was instrumental in driving forward. Many of the students who took George Hersey’s seminar were part of this group; but others, including Margaretta Lovell (who by then was teaching a course on material culture with Jules), David Lubin, Angela Miller, Rodger Birt, Esther Thyssen, Buffy Easton, Valerie Steele, Catherine Lynn, Rebecca Zurier, Kenneth Haltman, Alexander Nemerov, Richard Powell, and Helen Cooper (who already was serving as Curator of American Paintings at the Yale University Art Gallery) also were active members of Jules’s circle of students (and there were many others who were off writing dissertations, such as Kathleen Foster, or who had graduated relatively recently and were known to us by their groundbreaking work, such as David Solkin). At that time, Bryan Wolf was a young professor of English literature and American Studies who had developed a strong interest in American art, and he also was an important member of Jules’s circle. I was tremendously privileged to have Bryan as one of my dissertation advisors, as well.

The sadly short-lived Center for the Study of American Art and Material Culture, directed by Richard Beard, was established by Robert McNeil, through the Barra Foundation, at the Yale University Art Gallery in the same year that the YCBA opened.

A Survey of American Photographs 1840–1940, installation as presented from March 28–June 6, 1978, organized by the Yale Center for American Art and Material Culture, photo courtesy of the Yale University Art Gallery Institutional Archives

This center both reinforced the community of Americanists at Yale and gave me the opportunity to curate the first of my own exhibitions, American Photographs: 1840 to 1940. The group of Western American historians fostered by my third dissertation advisor, Howard Lamar, and Archibald Hanna, the then-curator of Western Americana at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, also promoted a culture of intellectual exchange, focused quite centrally on the visual culture of the West. Additionally, the American Studies Program offered students and faculty members with cross-disciplinary interests a supportive environment that encouraged innovative, experimental approaches to the study of American culture across the board. Collectively, these centers and programs taught graduate students of my generation at Yale the value of being a member of an engaging and supportive community of intellectual interchange, supported institutionally, and I have no doubt that this experience influenced my interest in being involved in study centers over the course of my professional career.

Indeed, as a graduate student, I was introduced to the vibrant culture of international research institutes when I was awarded a junior fellowship at Harvard University’s Washington-based research institute, Dumbarton Oaks (DO), my dissertation topic having shifted to a broader consideration of the relation of the visual arts to the natural sciences, from the colonial period, through the establishment of the republic, and into the nineteenth century. Some of my closest collegial friendships were formed in the community of DO, including my life-long professional partnership with Therese O’Malley, with whom I presently am organizing an exhibition on John and William Bartram and the emergence of environmental thought in America.

Therese O’Malley and Amy Meyers at a conference at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, 2005.

Therese and I were privileged to be hired by the first dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), at the National Gallery, Henry Millon, to work as predoctoral research assistants for the Architectural Drawings Advisory Group, an international consortium convened at CASVA and supported by the J. Paul Getty Trust to set standards for the scholarly cataloguing of architectural drawings online. This early experience in working with an international group of scholars on one of the first electronic database projects in the history of art stimulated my life-long dedication to advancing the development of electronic tools for art historical research—one that I brought to the Yale Center for British Art when I became director.

The collective of fellowship programs in art history across the museums and research institutes of Washington, DC offered me a rich community of peers as an advanced graduate student and young professional, and this stimulating environment furthered my interest in working within the context of a study center, which had begun at Yale. The appeal of funding art historical research (and research in the humanities more generally) through grants and fellowships was strengthened by the work of my husband, Jack Meyers, an assistant director in the Research Division at NEH at that time—and we have been most fortunate to have developed comparable careers in this regard. While I worked for fourteen years as the Curator of the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art at the Huntington, which is one of the largest residential fellowship-granting research institutes in the humanities in the world, Jack served as a program officer and then deputy director of the Getty’s Grant Program (now Foundation). We both became fully committed to the support of scholarship internationally, and, over the last years, while I have served as director of the Yale Center for British Art, and CEO of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (PMC) in London, Jack has served as President of the Rockefeller Archive Center. Our complementary positions have allowed us to share our experiences in the running of study centers, which has been wholly gratifying, and, I hope, of benefit to our mutual institutions.

JTP: What would you say are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen during your time at the YCBA?

AM: Certainly the greatest change I have seen in the field of British art over the last seventeen years, which has affected the YCBA and PMC in fundamental ways, and to a certain extent has been promoted by these sister institutions, has been a major shift in vantage point from what commonly has been called the “imperial gaze” to a more global viewpoint. Although by the time I was named director of the YCBA seventeen years ago, the approach to British art had become as much concerned with social history as with connoisseurship, works still were interpreted largely in terms of a relatively closed history of European art. The complex and tragic histories of the British Empire and slave trade were only beginning to affect the ways in which British art was understood, and the canon remained essentially defined as the creation of white, male artists of British birth—or, more generously, of white, male European or colonial American artists who came to practice in the British Isles, or who were associated with British artists and patrons on the Grand Tour.

Over the last years, a sea change has taken place, and not only has the canon expanded—and shifted—to include works by artists from many other parts of the world that came under British dominion or were deeply affected by the Empire, but also by artists of more diverse racial backgrounds and genders. The sense of the West’s ownership of the world on the part of historians of British art has been altered dramatically, and standard practice now insists that even the most traditionally canonical works must be reinterpreted from a global vantage point, and in terms of much larger and more challenging histories.

Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds, curated by Tim Barringer, Gillian Forrester, and Barbaro Martinez Ruiz, Yale Center for British Art, 2007, photo by Richard Caspole

JTP: What is a favorite memory—perhaps one that is less well-known—from your time there?

AM: My fond memories from my years at the YCBA—and the PMC—are innumerable, and it is extremely difficult to select a favorite. However, one program stands out as particularly memorable for me personally. In July of 2005, the YCBA co-organized a conference entitled, “Ways of Making and Knowing: The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge,” with the PMC and the Wellcome Trust Center/Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London (UCL).

Pamela Smith, Harold Cook, and Amy Meyers, standing in front of a raised flower bed reconstructed from an eighteenth-century plan by garden historian Mark Laird, at Painshill Park, in Cobham, Surrey, during the final session of “Ways of Making and Knowing: The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge,” July, 2005.

My co-conveners were close associates in the history of science: Pamela Smith, who is the Seth Low Professor of History at Columbia University, and Harold Cook, who, at that time, was director of the Wellcome Trust Center and now is the John F. Nickoll Professor History at Brown University. Beginning with a series of discussions at the Huntington, we planned an interdisciplinary conversation about the material construction of knowledge, examining how artisans and other makers of things informed the ways in which the natural world came to be understood in the West, from the sixteenth-century through the nineteenth. Exploring the relationship between two spheres traditionally understood to be distinct—practical and theoretical knowledge, the lectures and demonstrations were given by the seventy presenters, including art historians and historians of material culture, historians of science, artists, and craftspeople.

The program took place over five days, at sites across London ranging from the Chelsea Physic Garden, the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum, the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, the Natural History Museum, the Linnean Society, the V&A, and Painshill Park, in Surrey. This experimental program included as many object-study sessions and hands-on making workshops as formal papers, interrogating how the use of natural materials in the processes of making yielded the most profound understanding of nature, feeding science as much as technical knowledge in exciting new ways. A selection of the papers appeared under the title of the conference, in the Bard Graduate Center’s series Cultural Histories of the Material World, published by the University of Michigan Press in 2014. I must say that the support of Brian Allen, at that time the splendid and long-serving Director of Studies of the PMC with whom I had the honor of working closely for ten years, was a special pleasure.

Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte, and the Shaping of the Modern World installation, including Yinka Shonibare CBE’s Mrs Pinckney and the Emancipated Birds of South Carolina (2017), Yale Center for British Art, photo by Richard Caspole

I also remember with great fondness working with Joanna Marschner, Senior Curator at Kensington Palace, on Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte, and the Shaping of the Modern World, an exhibition co-organized by the YCBA and Historic Royal Palaces, with the support of the PMC, that was mounted in New Haven and London in 2017. Our mutual interest in women and patronage, particularly in relation to the natural sciences, found its expression in this project, and we look forward to working together on the subject long into the future.

JTP: What is a resource at the YCBA that you think people don’t often know about, but should?

AM: The collection of British art at the YCBA is renowned as the largest and finest outside the UK, comprising over 2,000 paintings; 20,000 drawings and watercolors; 45,000 prints and photographs; and several hundred pieces of sculpture. Much less well known is the institution’s truly glorious rare book and manuscript collection. The Center’s founder, Paul Mellon, began his life as a collector in this field, and over his lifetime he amassed one of the greatest collections formed in the twentieth century, comprising approximately 35,000 titles. Mr. Mellon focused in part on British illustrated books, acquiring the renowned J.R. Abbey collection of British color plate books, which serves as the touchstone for all other collections of this kind. Other major parts of the collection include drawing manuals, sporting books and manuscripts, early maps and atlases, early printed books by Caxton and his contemporaries, and archival and manuscript material relating to British artists, writers, and travelers of all periods.

A True Description of the Naval Exploration of Francis Drake, Englishman & Knight, Who With Five Ships Departed from the Western Part of England on 13 December 1577, Circumnavigated the Globe and Returned on 26 September 1580 with One Ship Remaining, the Others Having been Destroyed by Waves or fire, [London (?), ca. 1587], pen and ink and watercolor on parchment, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

The Center’s Chief Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Elisabeth Fairman, and her extraordinary colleagues, have augmented Mr. Mellon’s collections in remarkable ways over the decades, and have brought to the Center a singularly important collection of private press and contemporary artists’ books, as well. These works are available online through the Center’s website, where they can be searched seamlessly with related objects in the YCBA’s art collections. They also can be found through the Yale Library system’s online catalogue, ORBIS, which will lead users to the university’s other rare book and manuscript collections. The Center’s archives can be searched through “Archives at Yale,” which provides detailed descriptions of the individual archival collections and directs users to other archival collections at the university.

The Rare Books and Manuscripts collection contains splendid photographic holdings, beginning with some of the earliest printed books including original photographic illustrations produced by the first British experimenters with paper-print photography, such as William Henry Fox Talbot. These collections have grown enormously over the years, as have the photographic collections in the Prints and Drawings Department, making the Center one of the most significant repositories of British photographs in the country.

The same holds true for the development of the institution’s collection of contemporary British art, and over the course of this summer, the Center has mounted an exhibition illuminating the role that donors have played in enhancing both areas of the institution’s collections over the last few years. Entitled Photographs/Contemporary Art: Recent Gifts and Acquisitions, the exhibition demonstrates the breadth and depth of these holdings and signals their continued growth.

Photographs | Contemporary Art: Recent Gifts and Acquisitions installation, Yale Center for British Art, photo by Richard Caspole

JTP: When did you first become a CAA member? Do you have a favorite memory from a CAA conference?

AM: I have been a member of the CAA for so long that I do not remember precisely when I joined—undoubtedly by the early 1980s, when I was attending conferences regularly in my later years of graduate school. My memories of the very first conference I attended are shrouded in the mists of time, but I believe that I joined a group of Yale graduate students at a conference in New York while I was still enrolled in courses, in the late 1970s.

I have countless happy memories from conferences throughout the years, from sessions I have co-organized on the visual and material culture of natural history with my long-standing colleague, Therese O’Malley, to the multitude of fine papers given by scholars in my own fields of American and British art. Of course, one of the most important functions of the conference is to introduce participants to subjects that lie beyond their own areas of expertise, and I have learned an enormous amount from papers on topics to which I have had little exposure,  especially as art history has evolved in such exciting ways over the last years. New methodological approaches are always stimulating to consider, and I particularly have enjoyed learning from the work of younger colleagues. Indeed, the call for papers for next year’s conference promises a rich and important group of sessions that will have me running from one talk to the next throughout the proceedings.

Since 1989, due to my association with The Huntington and the YCBA and PMC, I have had the pleasure of attending the winter meeting of the Association of Research Institutes in Art History (ARIAH), as an affiliated society, which always is held the first day of the CAA conference. Naturally, I also have enjoyed attending reunions of the departments and study centers with which I have been connected. The joint reunion of the YCBA and PMC has been a true pleasure to co-host with the PMC’s current Director of Studies, Mark Hallett, who promotes the mutual interests of his London research center and the YCBA with dedication and inspired vision. Mark and I have been deeply grateful to the Deputy Directors of Research of these sister institutions, Martina Droth and Sarah Turner, for organizing these shared events annually.

I do have one favorite memory that stands out among all others, however, and that is of the 2009 Terra Foundation for the Arts Distinguished Scholar Session, entitled “Generations: Art, Ideas, and Change,” in honor of Jules Prown. Chaired by Bryan Wolf, and including papers by Alex Nemerov, Margaretta Lovell, Jennifer Roberts, Jennifer Greenhill, and Ethan Lasser, the session paid special tribute not only to the professor who had inspired so many of us as graduate students at Yale, but also to the scholar who had informed the work of students pursuing the study of American art and material culture throughout the world through his groundbreaking research and approaches to analysis.

JTP: I imagine it is impossible to summarize the sentiments surrounding a 17-year tenure, but if there was one feeling you could share in the wake of your departure from the directorship of the YCBA, what would you say it is?

AM: The feeling I wish to share is one of excitement.

Courtney J. Martin, photo by Argenis Apolinario

As I have indicated, the field of British art–and of art history more generally—is developing and changing in such important ways, and I have no doubt that Courtney J. Martin, who just has begun her first term as the Center’s brilliant new director, will work with her YCBA colleagues not only to continue to introduce the work of new artists to the collection, but to encourage an ever-expanding community of visitors from the university, the city, the region, and the world through innovative displays, exhibitions, publications, and programs. She is a tremendous addition to the impressive complement of collection directors under the excellent leadership of Yale’s Vice Provost for Collections and Scholarly Communications, Susan Gibbons, and I expect that splendid developments are about to take place across all of the university’s museums and libraries with this gifted team in place.

JTP: What are you most proud of having accomplished at YBCA?

AM: My pride lies in what I was able to accomplish in concert with my superlative friends and colleagues: the staff of the YCBA and PMC, Yale students and faculty members, the 250 visiting scholars who have joined our community to pursue research in the YCBA’s collections, our advisory committees and consultants, the PMC’s Board of Governors, and supporters of both institutions. So much has been accomplished collectively that a full review would be impossible, but I will outline some of our most significant collaborative achievements.

Working with museums and cultural institutions across the UK, and in certain instances the United States, we developed a program of over fifty major loan exhibitions which explored a wide range of topics from the early modern period through the current day. These were underpinned by workshops involving students and scholars from around the world, and they were enhanced by an equivalent number of significant publications produced in association with Yale University Press London (YUPL). Approximately forty in-house exhibitions and displays, often developed with undergraduates and graduate students, enriched the exhibition program, examining the Center’s own holdings from important new vantage points.

One such exhibition, Unto This Last: Two Hundred Years of John Ruskin, curated by three of Tim Barringer’s graduate students—Tara Contractor, Victoria Hepburn, and Judith Stapleton—has been in the planning stages for some time as the Center’s central contribution to the bicentennial commemoration of Ruskin’s birth (both critical and celebratory), and it will open on the evening of September 17th of this year, accompanied by a leading-edge catalogue edited by Tim, to which the students, and others, have contributed. I have no doubt that for this cohort of students, the experience of working with Tim on an assessment of Ruskin’s significance as a thinker for the modern world will be as important as George Hersey’s Ruskin seminar was for me and my own group of peers over forty years ago.

During the last seventeen years, the research cultures of the YCBA and the PMC were augmented through the joint efforts of a new Research Division at the Yale Center and an amplified program at the London Centre, which also produced a superb run of publications with YUPL. Support of scholars across the field of British art was substantially increased through the PMC’s grant program and the YCBA’s visiting scholars program. The PMC and YCBA also collaborated to develop an innovative online journal, British Art Studies, which is fully accessible, free of charge, to the world.

The YCBA’s education program developed magnificently, as well. Our docents toured 92,929 school-age students through the galleries, and an average of 88 Yale classes utilized the collections each year, with nearly 14,000 Yale students visiting the Study Room either with a class or to use collections on their own. The Center hosted 903 undergraduate student interns and workers, 76 graduate student research assistants, and 20 postdoctoral research associates who received doctorates from other universities. Empirically based programs focused on close looking in the galleries, designed to increase both the sensitivity and diagnostic skills of medical and nursing students (the first such programs in the world), continued to develop for Yale graduate student in other fields.

Additionally, creative learning programs for teenage girls on the autism spectrum were put into place, and a teaching relationship with Chapel Haven, a home for adults with cognitive disabilities, flourished. The Center actively joined the university’s mentorship program to engage undergraduates who have attended New Haven public schools, or approved charter schools, and who have been awarded New Haven Promise scholarships, in professional experiences over the summer months. We benefitted from the fine work of those who were participants in the program, and we were able to add several extremely talented young people to our permanent staff from the program.

The collections also developed in exciting ways over the years, with curators adding to the historic corpus with important works from the Tudor period through the mid-twentieth century, and with modern and contemporary works expanding the Center’s holdings into our own time.

Fourth-floor gallery installation, including the new acquisition of Peter Lely’s Diana and her Nymphs at a Fountain (ca.1648), Yale Center for British Art, photo by Edward Town

Sculpture became a special focus of the acquisitions program, along with photography and modern and contemporary art. In all, almost 9,000 objects and collections across the curatorial departments amplified the Center’s holdings for teaching, research, and exhibition.

A program to make the Center’s entire collection accessible virtually, placed 90,000 records online, and 78,000 high-resolution digital images of works in the public domain freely available to the world for any use, in concert with Yale’s Open Access policy. The Center now seeks to connect these online collections with others across the university and the globe, through linked open data, allowing audiences worldwide to explore the rich global history of British art.

We also worked with collections across the university to develop a state-of-the-art conservation program on Yale’s West Campus, and to create the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, with a major conservation science program intended not only for the technical assessment of our own collections, but also to address global conservation needs. Additionally, the Center published a model conservation plan for its landmark building designed by Louis I. Kahn, which has helped to steer the conservation of other modern buildings of cultural significance according to best practices. This plan allowed a three-phased conservation program to address the physical needs of the Kahn building, and following the conservation of the interior spaces and upgrading of the mechanical systems, a freshly conceived display of the art collections was installed, entitled “Britain in the World.”

JTP: What are you most excited about when you think of your next steps? Are there projects you are looking forward to?

AM: Returning to my own scholarship is a great joy, and I am beginning to work with Therese O’Malley to co-curate an exhibition examining the naturalists John and William Bartram and the early development of environmental thought in North America and the transatlantic world—a project that derives from the dissertations on which we worked together so many years ago, but that now is informed by the scholarship of those working on the culture of natural history in the Americas from new points of view.

William Bartram, The Soft Shell’d Tortoise Got in Savanah River Georgia, ca. 1773, gray wash, pen and black ink, and graphite on paper, Yale Center for British Art, Gift of Charles Ryskamp

The Bartrams, who created one of the first scientific gardens in the British colonies, began to be mythologized in their own time, and have been the focus of academic study since the nineteenth century. However, their work is just beginning to be assessed in relation to the knowledge they gained not only from Native American peoples they encountered on their collecting expeditions, but from enslaved peoples of African descent in bondage to the Bartrams’ family members and friends throughout the southern colonies, as well as those William himself enslaved on a small, short-lived plantation that he attempted to establish in Florida. This project will serve as a case study examining the diverse systems of knowledge about nature that converged and collided in this period, resulting in new conceptions of a wholly interconnected cosmos, in a constant state of flux.

Amy Meyers BIOGRAPHY

Amy Meyers (Yale PhD, American Studies, 1985) retired from the directorship of the Yale Center for British Art on June 30th of this year. Prior to her appointment in July of 2002, she spent much of her career at research institutes, including Dumbarton Oaks; the Center for Advanced Study in Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C; and The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, where she served as Curator of American Art from 1988 through June of 2002. Meyers also has taught the history of art at the California Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, Mount Vernon College, and Yale. As Director of the Center, Meyers sought to strengthen the institution’s educational and research initiatives. She endeavored to promote a rigorous academic publication program in association with Yale University Press and to develop an exhibition program of the highest scholarly standard in partnership with major museums across Europe and the United States. She expanded the Center’s fellowship program; amplified the teaching mission in concert with departments and programs across the university; and promoted the cataloguing of the collections on-line, with free and open access to all images in the public domain. Meyers supported the creation of a conservation plan for the institution’s landmark building, designed by Louis I. Kahn, and she oversaw the conservation of the building, as well as two full-scale reinstallations of the entire collection.

Meyers has written extensively on the visual and material culture of natural history in the transatlantic world, serving as editor of Knowing Nature: Art and Science in Philadelphia, 1740 to 1840, with the assistance of Lisa Ford  (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011); with Harold Cook and Pamela Smith, Ways of Making and Knowing:  The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2011); with Therese O’Malley, The Art of Natural History: Illustrated Treatises and Botanical Paintings, 1400-1850 (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Studies in The History of Art Series, 2008); Art and Science in America: Issues of Representation (San Marino: The Huntington, 1998); and, with Margaret Pritchard, Empire’s Nature: Mark Catesby’s New World Vision (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998). She also has organized numerous international symposia in the field, including Curious Specimens: Enlightenment Objects, Collections, Narratives (with Luisa Calè, Michael Snodin, Margaret Powell, and Cynthia Roman; London, 2010), Ways of Making and Knowing: The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge (with Hal Cook and Pamela Smith; London, 2005); and ‘Curious in Our Way’: The Culture of Nature in Philadelphia, 1740 to 1840 (Philadelphia, 2004). With Therese O’Malley, she currently is co-organizing an exhibition on John and William Bartram and the emergence of an environmental conception of the natural world in colonial and early republican America, to be mounted in 2024.

CWA Picks for Summer 2019

posted by July 16, 2019

CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship to share with CAA members on a monthly basis. See the picks for July and August below.

Figure: Jamie Okuma (Luiseño/Shoshone-Bannock, born 1977), Adaptation II (2012), shoes designed by Christian Louboutin, leather, glass beads, porcupine quills, sterling silver cones, brass sequins, chicken feathers, cloth, deer rawhide, buckskin, 8 5/8 x 3 ¼ x 9 3/16 in. (each). Minneapolis Institute of Art, Bequest of Virginia Doneghy, by exchange 2012.68.1a,b

Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists

Minneapolis Institute of Art
June 2 – August 18, 2019

Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists is the first-ever museum retrospective of Native American and Canadian female artists. It is guided by three key themes: legacy, relationships, and power, and includes works by more than seventy women artists made in a variety of media, from textiles and bead work to digital arts. The show welcomes visitors with a parked customized 1985 Chevy El Camino fabricated by the mixed-media artist Rose Simpson. It pays homage to Maria Martinez, a potter and the first self-identified, non-anonymous Native artist. The car is outfitted with decals inspired by Pueblo ceramics often designed by women, yet typically unacknowledged. This work, among others on display in this exhibition, addresses the silenced narratives and forgotten, uncredited works of Native American women, offering multiple perspectives on othering, colonization, cultural appropriation, and victimization of practices considered feminine.

Amazonki

Galerie Gmurzynska Zürich, Switzerland
June 8 – September 8, 2019

The title of the exhibition, Amazonki, refers to the Russian word for “Amazons,” in Greek mythology a tribe of women warriors known for their courage. Benedikt Livshits, a poet and a writer, first used this term to address the female Russian avant-gardes, who were described as “real Amazons, Scythian riders.” This exhibition features a selection of remarkable works across different media by women artists of the Russian vanguard, including Maria and Xenia Ender, Natalia Goncharova, Liubov Popova, Olga Rozanova, Nadezhda Udaltsova, and Varvara Stepanova. Their pioneering works from the early 20th-century Russia were significant to the formation of new art movements and redefined the status of female artists.

Filipa César. Quantum Creole

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, Portugal
May 31 – September 2, 2019

Filipa César’s installation and essay documentary film are featured at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and raise issues about colonialism and gentrification on the Bissagos Islands. The project explores the dynamics of Creolization and the subversive dimension of linguistic codes. César’s moving images are characterized by tensions between oppositions: reality and fiction, present and past, stillness and motion. In this exhibition her cinematographic language concerns poetics of resistance within colonial occupation. It is used to investigate notions of weaving and acts of writing in relation to new digital economies. She engages various spatialities and agencies to investigate a subversive potency of quantum weaving against the engineering of binary extractive epistemologies.

Lee Krasner: Living Colour

Barbican Art Gallery
May 30 – September 1, 2019

Figure: Krasner, Self-Portrait, c. 1928, The Jewish Museum, New York. © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Courtesy the Jewish Museum, New York

“To whom shall I hire myself? What beast must one adore? What holy image attack? What hearts shall I break? What lie must I maintain? In what blood must I walk?” These ferocious lines from Arthur Rimbaud’s poem A Season in Hell were transcribed on Lee Krasner’s (1908-1984) East Village studio wall at 51 East Ninth Street in Manhattan and still pack a punch.  They demand our attention just as the formidable career of this legendary Abstract Expressionist artist. The Barbican’s Lee Krasner: Living Colour is the first traveling retrospective on the US artist organized in Europe, curated by Eleanor Nairne. Krasner’s first survey presentation was at the Whitechapel Gallery in London in 1965. The accompanying exhibition catalogue, edited by Nairne with essays by Katy Siegel, John Yau, and Suzanne Hudson, brings further attention to Krasner’s multifaceted personal history, education, and artistic relationships. While significant art historical scholarship was previously established in publications on Krasner, including Ellen Landau’s catalogue raisonné (1995) and Joan Marter’s Women of Abstract Expressionism (2016), this catalogue assesses broad connections and cuts a swath through the artist’s extensive oeuvre, consuming discourse, and marriage to Jackson Pollock. Krasner was renowned and likewise criticized for her perpetual desire to change artistic styles (a problematic issue highlighted in Abstract Expressionist criticism) and tendency to recycle earlier works in the process of remaking new ones. Living Colour is an ambitious curatorial enterprise and offers that there is always room for periodic review and assessment of the depth of women’s creativity and tenacity negotiating the modern male environment of New York in the mid-1940s and 1950s. As much as Krasner looked to the past to clarify her vision, Living Colour affords us the chance to appraise her vast development, rethink her vernacular and personally direct expression, repetition of cycles, utilization of collage, and influences of language and narrative.

Filed under: CWA Picks — Tags:

2018 CAA Annual Conference. Photo: Rafael Cardenas

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

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

The awardees are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Sarah Deragon, Portraits to the People

Jordana Moore Saggese is an Associate Professor of American Art at the University of Maryland, College Park and the current Editor-in-Chief of Art Journal, CAA’s publication focused on twentieth- and twenty-first-century art history. Trained as an art historian, Saggese’s work focuses on modern and contemporary art with an emphasis on the expressions and theorizations of blackness. She was previously Associate Professor of Contemporary Art & Theory at California College of the Arts.

Joelle Te Paske, CAA Media and Content Manager, corresponded with her this month to learn about how she came to do the work she does, and her aspirations for the journal and the field beyond.

Joelle Te Paske: Thanks for taking the time for our interview, Jordana. So to begin, where are you from originally? What pathways led you to the work you’re doing now?

Jordana Moore Saggese: I am originally from Nashville, Tennessee. I attended Vanderbilt University, as a first-generation college student, for my undergraduate degree, and fell into an art history major at the very last moment. In fact, the summer before my senior year I suddenly realized that every opportunity I had to take an elective unit during my time at Vanderbilt I had chosen an art history class. The art history classes I took with my mentor Leonard Folgarait were truly inspiring. He encouraged his students (even those like me, who had very little knowledge of art history) to consider the work of artists as a response to the values and ideas of society, which in turn are determined by historical conditions. I can still remember his lecture on Dada, which was really the turning point for me. It was at that moment that I realized art was not something meant only for the elite; art could also be a form of rebellion. Although I had never been inside an art museum before my time as an undergraduate, Dr. Folgarait, and other faculty there, encouraged me and asked me to think deeply about the stakes of representation and introduced me to a range of objects across multiple continents and chronologies. With their encouragement, I decided to declare a major in art history and apply for graduate school my senior year.

This meant that I had to take the two-semester survey course as a senior, which fundamentally shifted the way I think about teaching those courses.

Whose art history are we teaching?

I can still remember my shock, sitting in a huge lecture hall, listening to someone drone on about a mostly white, male, heterosexist art history. I was wholly unprepared to memorize a seemingly endless stream of images. I finished the courses but this was not the art history that I was used to. That experience, of coming in almost backwards to the discipline, highlighted two main issues that still impact my teaching and research today.

First, how can we give students the very best introduction to the discipline—one that reflects the deep inquiry and the collaboration that was so intrinsic to my experience in the upper-division courses?

And second, whose art history are we teaching? That is, to what extent has a colonialist logic pervaded much of modern art history and what can I do—in my teaching and research—to undo that logic? I have been acutely aware of the ways in which art history has tended to exclude diverse perspectives and histories and much of my own work involves complicating those dominant narratives.

Saggese’s first book, Reading Basquiat: Exploring Ambivalence in American Art, was published by UC Press in 2014.

JTP: I love these questions as a fundamental starting point—not supplement—to the question of teaching art history. You were previously on the faculty at the California College of the Arts, and are now at University of Maryland, College Park. How has the transition been?

JMS: Teaching at an art school for the first ten years of my career was a wonderful experience in that it gave me direct and constant access to working artists. Thanks to my colleagues I was able to stay current in the field—a challenge for any historian of contemporary art—and my students constantly challenged me to make the history of art come into real time and space. CCA was also a site of experimentation, where students and faculty were willing to challenge one another, to wrestle openly with difficulty, and to fail. I have tried to bring those values to my teaching at Maryland as well. I have found the students and faculty at College Park to be deeply invested in their individual fields of interest but also in the discipline as a whole. There has also been tremendous support for my research practice, which has been a great benefit to making this transition.

JTP: As a Basquiat scholar, what is something you wish more people know about the artist? 

JMS: I wish that more people considered the extent to which Basquiat’s celebrity status has threatened to eclipse his critical significance. My main project has been, and continues to be, writing this artist into the history of American art. I would also add that working on Basquiat presents extreme challenges for a researcher. There is no public archive of his work and approximately 85-90% of the paintings and drawings are in private collections (and I might mention, constantly being sold). This means that in order to see the works, one must shake a lot of hands, charm a lot of people, and knock on lots of doors. Working on Basquiat requires a thick skin, as I am often embroiled in territorial battles or even ignored. I also spend a lot of money traveling to see exhibitions so that I might glimpse the works in person. So, it’s not your typical research project!

JTP: I can only imagine the challenges that presents in pushing research forward—it’s far from a straightforward dive into the archives. What are you working on currently?

JMS: My second book, The Basquiat Reader: A Critical Anthology will be published by the University of California Press in 2020. The Basquiat Reader is a comprehensive sourcebook on Basquiat for both general audiences and advanced readers. Through a combination of interviews with the artist, criticism from the artist’s lifetime and immediately after, previously unpublished research by me, and a selection of the most important critical essays on the artist’s work, The Basquiat Reader provides a full picture of the artist’s views on art and culture, his working process, as well as the critical significance of his work both then and now. It is my hope that by giving more people access to the primary sources, we will see more scholarship on this artist.

My new book project considers representations of black male athletes as a point of entry to thinking about how black men have historically been presented to (and positioned by) the white mainstream public as a fear/fantasy. More specifically, I examine the ways in which black masculinity is constructed in the visual realm, and how the black athletic body can shape the moral, physical, and social position of African American men more broadly. Over five chapters I analyze key moments in the history of the sport, prominent black athletes and their representation in the American popular press and visual art.

Art Journal, Spring 2019

JTP: That is such important work, especially as those constructions persist and accelerate in contemporary visual culture. What are your hopes for Art Journal during your tenure?

JMS: During my tenure I would like to continue to build on the global reach of the publication—in terms of both content and readership. I mean global here as something more than a keyword to signal “diversity.” I use global to signal an interconnected conversation between Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, South America, the Pacific—rather than a series of isolated references to an “other.” I want to think of how the perspective of modern and contemporary art from Mumbai or even Beijing connects to as well as lives separate from the touch-points of America and Europe. This is something that I began to explore in my edited forum, “Diversity and Difference,” published in Art Journal in 2016—that is, how can we think beyond the paradigm of margins and center?

I am also hoping to increase a direct engagement of artist members via the introduction of new features, such as “Object Lessons,” which will first appear in Fall 2019. This is an opportunity for artists to consider a specific object of visual culture that has directly impacted or influenced their own practice. I am also increasing the diversity of artists that we publish in Art Journal. For example, every artist project for issues published in 2019 was developed by a woman of color.

Finally, I want to highlight the role of the journal as a forum for professional conversations. Readers can expect to see short essays on fair use, censorship, and the white supremacist logic of art history—topics that typically are buried in whispers. I see Art Journal as a place where these difficult conversations and issues come to light. Many readers of Art Journal are also teachers, and I hope to bring more focus to issues of pedagogy over the coming years of my tenure as Editor-in-Chief.

How can we think beyond the paradigm of margins and center?

JTP: It’s exciting to see the direction you are bringing to it. What are some of your other arts-related recommendations at the moment?

JMS: I have really enjoyed seeing the conversation around #POCarthistory (started by Ananda Cohen-Aponte [who recently took over CAA’s Instagram]) develop on Twitter over the last months. As someone interested in our current moment I am constantly reading Hyperallergic and I have found the resources on the website of the Association for Critical Race Art History very important to my own pedagogical development. I am currently reading The Painter’s Touch by Ewa Lajer-Burcharth.

JTP: Do you have a favorite exhibition you’ve seen recently?

JMS: This year I really enjoyed the shows by Jack Whitten (Met Breuer) and Nari Ward (New Museum), but I am still reeling from the show of new paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (Under-Song for a Cipher), which I saw at the New Museum two years ago. That show left me speechless.


The Spring 2019 issue of Art Journal is now online.

Not a CAA member? Join today and begin exploring immediately.

Filed under: Art Journal, CAA Conversations, Publications — Tags:

Join a CAA Professional Committee

posted by April 29, 2019

ARTexchange at CAA 2018 in Los Angeles. Image by Rafael Cardenas.

Call for applicants to CAA’s Professional Committees (for term 2020-2023)

The Professional Committees address critical concerns of CAA’s members set out in the goals of CAA’s Strategic Plan. CAA invites members to apply for service on one of these working groups.

Committee members serve three-year terms (2020-2023), with at least one new member rotating onto a committee each year. Candidates must be current CAA members and possess expertise appropriate to the committee’s work. All committee members volunteer their services without compensation. It is expected that once appointed to a committee, a member will involve himself or herself in an active and serious way.

The following vacancies are open for terms beginning in February 2020:

UPDATE (8/8/19): We’re 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. Concurrent with our annual call, we’re seeking applicants to form the inaugural teams for these two new committees. Learn more.

CAA’s President, Vice President for Committees, and Executive Director review all candidates in the fall, and announce the appointments in late October, prior to the Annual Conference. New members are introduced to their committees during their respective business meetings at the Annual Conference.

Nominations and self-nominations should include a brief statement (no more than 150 words) describing your qualifications and experience and an abbreviated CV (no more than 2–3 pages). Please send all materials to Vanessa Jalet, CAA executive liaison at vjalet@collegeart.org.

Deadline: Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Kindly enter subject line in email: 2020 Professional Committee Applicant

 


Scroll down to learn about the charge of each of the Professional Committees, along with their current objectives and projects.

COMMITTEE ON DESIGN

The Committee on Design promotes and advances issues in design practice, design history/theory/criticism, and design education through advocacy, engagement, and a commitment to the diversity of practices and practitioners.

The Committee on Design invites you to join its current members in proposing programming for annual conference sessions, drafting best-practices guidelines, developing teaching resources for design and design history, and, in general, building infrastructures within CAA that serve the professional needs of designers and design historians.

COMMITTEE ON DIVERSITY PRACTICES

The Committee on Diversity Practices supports the development of global perspectives on art and visual culture. The committee promotes artistic, curatorial, scholarly and institutional practices that deepen appreciation of political and cultural heterogeneity, as educational and professional values. To that end, the committee assesses and evaluates the development and implementation of curricular innovation, new research methods, curatorial and pedagogical strategies, and hiring practices that contribute to the realization of these goals.

The Committee on Diversity Practices continues to address how CAA as an association can positively address diversity awareness, training and implementation and maintain a site for resources on diversity practices: http://www.collegeart.org/diversity/

COMMITTEE ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

The Committee on Intellectual Property monitors and interprets copyright legislation for the benefit of CAA’s various constituencies. In so doing, it seeks to offer educational programs and opportunities for discussion and debate in response to copyright legislation that affects educators, scholars, museum professionals, and artists.

The Committee on Intellectual Property organizes conference sessions on the Fair Use Code and maintains a resource cite on intellectual property: http://www.collegeart.org/ip/

COMMITTEE ON WOMEN IN THE ARTS

The Committee on Women in the Arts (CWA) promotes the scholarly study and recognition of women’s contributions to the visual arts and to critical and art-historical studies; advocates for feminist scholarship and activism in art; develops partnerships with organizations with compatible missions; monitors the status of women in the visual-arts professions; provides historical and current resources on feminist issues; and supports emerging artists and scholars in their careers.

Inclusive and international, comprising members from all professional backgrounds, the Committee on Women in the Arts is dedicated to the study, visibility and support of women in the arts, as well as feminist art and scholarship, with an expansive combination of initiatives that include: organizing panels and interviews of feminist artists and the recipients of the Distinguished Feminist Award during the annual conference; collaborations and events that take place beyond the conference venue; the monthly selection of international highlights of exhibitions known as the CWA Picks: http://www.collegeart.org/committees/picks; and its support of two nominees for the Distinguished Feminist Award.

EDUCATION COMMITTEE

The Education Committee promotes the visual arts as essential human activity; as a creative endeavor and subject of cultural and historical inquiry and critical appreciative activity, and encourages excellence in teaching at all levels.  Its focus is on pedagogy at the higher education level in art history, visual culture, studio, aesthetics, and art criticism, and on the interface between arts teaching and learning research and practice.

The Education Committee supports initiatives that acknowledge the importance of teaching and learning to advance visual arts, design, and art history in higher education, and more broadly to the public. In addition to a podcast series, CAA Conversations, the EC works on projects that support educational development, effective pedagogy, scholarship of teaching and learning, and improved career pathways for students.

INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE

The International Committee seeks to foster an international community of artists, scholars and critics within CAA; to provide forums in which to exchange ideas and make connections; to encourage engagement with the international student community; to develop relationships between CAA and organizations outside the United States with comparable goals and activities; and to assist the CAA Board of Directors by identifying and recommending advocacy issues that involve CAA and cross national borders.

The International Committee continues to promote international connections and discourse through organized conference sessions, solicited news and articles, collaborative events, and other vital programs such as the CAA-Getty International Program that brings global scholars to the annual conference.

MUSEUM COMMITTEE

The Museum Committee provides a bridge between scholars and arts professionals in the academic and museum fields.  It offers a forum for the discussion of issues of mutual interest and promotes museum advocacy issues within CAA.  The committee lends support and mentorship for both seasoned and emerging professionals to protect and interpret the arts within museums.

The Museum Committee strives to make the museum field more equitable and inclusive by critically examining the current and inadequate pipelines to the profession and questioning the practices and procedures by which museums operate. The committee is engaged in collaborative efforts to strengthen the relationship between art historians and museums, as well as in working creatively and constructively with other CAA committees and projects, including the Committee on Women in the Arts and RAAMP (Resources for Academic Art Museum Professionals).

PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES COMMITTEE

The Professional Practices Committee (PPC) responds to specific concerns of the membership in relation to areas such as job placement and recruitment, tenure and promotion procedures, scholarly standards and ethics, studio health and safety, and guidelines for degree programs in the visual arts. The committee oversees CAA’s Standards and Guidelines drawing on the expertise of committee members and by forming task-forces to draft, review and revise these statements on a regular basis.

Recently, the Professional Practices Committee has been working on updating guidelines for degree programs (Associate, Baccalaureate, and MFA), as well as the new Guidelines for Addressing Proposed Substantive Changes to an Art, Art History of Design Unit or Program at Colleges and Universities. The committee is currently working on statements addressing the work of curators, visual resource professionals and artists working in the public realm.

SERVICES TO ARTISTS COMMITTEE

The Services to Artists Committee (SAC) was formed by the CAA Board of Directors to seek broader participation by artists and designers in the organization and the Annual Conference. SAC identifies and addresses concerns facing artists and designers; creates and implements programs and events at the conference and beyond; explores ways to encourage greater participation and leadership in CAA; and identifies ways to establish closer ties with other arts professionals and institutions.  To this end, committee members are responsible for the programming of ARTspace and its related events.

The Services to Artists Committee continues to organize ARTspace conference programming (free and open to the public) and is investigating initiatives to identify and address concerns for artists and designers beyond the conference.

STUDENT AND EMERGING PROFESSIONALS COMMITTEE

Established in February 1998, the Student and Emerging Professionals Committee is comprised of CAA members who are students, recent graduates, and experienced arts professionals with the intention of better representing students and emerging professionals within the larger CAA and academic framework.

The Student and Emerging Professionals Committee provides CAA with a crucial voice for those in school, recently graduated, changing tracks, or getting back into the field. SEPC helps connect its constituents to CAA’s resources and advocates for students and emerging professionals within the organization. In 2019-2020, SEPC has begun writing guidelines for professional development training in graduate programs; SEPC is also working to make CAA more accessible to a future generation of artists, scholars, and beyond. At the Annual Conference, SEPC hosts an SEPC lounge space out of which is run a full programming track that includes workshops, roundtables, mock interviews, and more. SEPC is looking for members who can help run its programs, and, more importantly, bring new approaches and underrepresented perspectives to SEPC’s advocacy.

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Women’s suffragists parade in New York City in 1917, carrying placards with the signatures of more than a million women. (New York Times Photo Archives)

In collaboration with the Committee on Women in the Arts, CAA seeks to offer a selection of sessions, papers, speakers, and related programming for the 2020 Conference in celebration of the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in the US, while also acknowledging the discriminatory practices that limited voting rights for Indigenous women and women of color, even after the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920.

We hope 50% of the conference’s content will be focused on women-centered research, artistic presentations, and discourse, and addresses the intersectional and transnational complexity of race, ethnicity, class, age, body size, disability, gender and sexual orientation in the arts. Reinforcing inclusivity beyond binary understandings of gender, this initiative seeks to advance a forum for increased dialogue within the context of this historical moment.

The submissions portal for the 2020 CAA Annual Conference is now open with a deadline of April 30.

Submit a Proposal

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