January 31, 2018 – Shiamin Kwa

Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures and Comparative Literature, Bryn Mawr College

“The Panther, the Girl, and the Wardrobe: Terror Inside our Borders in Panther, by Brecht Evens”

Both the format and the premise of Panther, by Brecht Evens, are the deceptively familiar conventions of the illustrated children’s book. A young girl troubled by loss encounters a furry friend who brings color back into her life. As the book progresses, however, the girl’s and the reader’s expectations are violently overturned: book and companion have been deceptions. This paper considers Evens’ use of the comics form itself to critique border controls of varied kinds. In its contemplations of the pervasiveness of all kinds of “domestic terrors,” Panther presents a timely investigation and interrogation of the methods we employ to measure safety in a precarious world.

February 7, 2018 – Daniel A. Barber

Assistant Professor of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania School of Design

“A History of the Not So Utopian Future”

This lecture will discuss how solar house heating methods and techniques of climatic design were essential aspects of the global architectural discussion in the period surrounding World War II. These techno-cultural developments not only produced novel designs, they also emphasized the role of architecture as a mediating practice, facilitating novel conceptions of the relationship between social and biotic systems. The not-so-utopian future that was imagined was a means to consider how humans transform in relationship to anthropogenic changes – a profound realm for analysis in the face of climate change.

February 14, 2018 – Susanna McFadden

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, Bryn Mawr

“Meditations on Ornament: The Late Antique Wall Paintings of Amheida, Egypt”

Recent excavations at the late Roman site of Amheida in Egypt’s Dakhleh Oasis have revealed an astounding corpus of painted plaster, depicting both figural scenes drawn from Greco-Roman mythology as well as an array of Classical style “carpet” designs (textile and mosaic patterns). This paper focuses especially on the ornamental motifs and discusses the ways in which they are exemplary of the mimetic charades typical of late antique visual environments in the Mediterranean at large. As such, the paintings’ survival in a city on the edge of empire provides an unprecedented opportunity for nuancing issues of identity politics in Egypt as well as for examining the complexities of late antique decorative strategies both locally and internationally, past and present.

February 28, 2018 – Wilhelm Neusser

Painter, Cambridge, MA

“Field Trip: An Artist’s Perspective on the Ideal Landscape”

With terrains as diverse as New England’s cranberry harvest and Germany’s coal-mining regions, the paintings of Wilhelm Neusser challenge notions of the ideal landscape. In this talk, the artist invites us to view wide-open vistas and intimate close-ups with an emphasis on his interest in late Romanticism.

March 7, 2018 – David J. Roxburgh

Department Chair
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History, Harvard University

“Painting After the Mass-Produced Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran”

Rulers of the Qajar dynasty (1779-1925) in Iran pursued a broad range of military, bureaucratic and social reforms, formed new institutions—including the first polytechnic (Dar al-Funun, “Abode of the Sciences”), and embraced new technologies of the mass-produced image (photography and lithography). It was also a period of heightened exchange between Iran, India, Russia and the countries of Europe, in which greater numbers of people traveled between these regions for work, trade, diplomacy, education, and tourism. Art produced under Qajar rule—for elite and middle class audiences—fully reflected this new mixture of mediums and images moved across and between them with great fluidity. While Persian artists welcomed these new mediums—freely excerpting subjects from a broad range of high through popular visual culture and combining them to produce innovative artworks—the majority of European visitors by contrast offered scathing and derisive criticism. The largely negative history of reception of Qajar art has haunted art historical scholarship until recent years. The lecture examines the processes by which Qajar artists—whether working at the royal court or in the bazaar—embraced new technologies of the image and examines the nature of their resulting intermedial artworks. What were the implications for the art of painting after the advent of photography and lithography?

March 21, 2018 – Jason Sun

Brooke Russell Astor Curator of Chinese Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“The First Emperor, the Chinese Empire, and the Wider World: Art and Material Culture of the Qin Dynasty”

By examining the art and material culture recovered through archaeology in the last fifty years, this presentation focuses on the First Emperor of China and the Empire that he created during the late third century B.C. It also explores the contact between China and other parts of the world, which resulted from the increased trade and exchange over the transcontinental Silk Road and through maritime routes across the oceans.

March 28, 2018 – Min Kyung Lee

Assistant Professor, Growth and Structure of Cities

“Mapping Paris under Haussmann”

Late eighteenth-century France witnessed a significant shift in the composition and value of maps as projective and scientific instruments, and they gained new importance in governance and planning. This talk will discuss the surveys that were conducted and maps that were drawn during the modernization of Paris. Under consideration will be the ways in which the correspondence between a map and city is established and the complications involved in using them for urban constructions.

April 4, 2018 – Nicholas R. Jones

Assistant Professor of Spanish and Africana Studies, Bucknell University

“Black Skin Acts: Feasting on Blackness, Staging Linguistic Blackface”

This talk argues that early-modern Africanized Castilian–commonly referred to as habla de negros–cannot be separated from the act and practice of blackface performance. What I hope to make clear in this lecture is that black skin acts in conjunction with the excessively deformed black corporeality of the bozal’s black mouth as well as the register of the sonic highlighted by “African” dances, lyrics, and songs. My theory of feasting (on Blackness), as a racially performative act, fortifies the success of blackface’s convincing entertainment to the audience enjoying its blackface performance.

April 11, 2018 – John J. Curley

Associate Professor of Art History, Department of Art, Wake Forest University

“Reframing High Modernist Painting: The Case of Morris Louis”

The paintings of Morris Louis are hallmarks of a hermetic American modernism that seem far removed from the political and social concerns of the 1960s.  In this talk, Prof. Curley will use Louis’s painting as a means to explore the ways that art and science had become uncanny doppelgangers by the early part of the decade.  When considered as expressions of a technocratic turn in American culture, Louis’s works can be situated alongside those by Andy Warhol and other artists interested in machines.

September 13, 2017- Richard Torchia

Director, Arcadia University Art Gallery
Reconsidering the Exhibition as Medium”

The re-staging of Harald Szeemann’s “Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form,” for the 2013 Venice Biennale served as a dramatic reminder of how gallery display impacts our experience of art. Originally presented at the Bern Kunsthalle in 1969, its recent reconstruction (curated by Germano Celant, in dialogue with Thomas Demand and RemKoolhaas), foregrounded the ways in which our sensitivities to the staging of artworks has changed over time. The project also confirmed that the matrix of conditions that constitute exhibition making offer singular possibilities and restrictions that become more critical as new platforms of presentation emerge. Using examples of other re-stagings and a sampling of recent solo and group shows, this talk will explore the evolution of the exhibition as a medium and its impact on artmaking, curatorial practice, and questions of authorship and interpretation.