Assistant Professor of the Arts of Africa and the Black Atlantic, Oberlin College
“Questions of Value and Bondage at a Hotel in London, March 1865”
In March of 1865, Dante Gabriel Rossetti encountered a child in the doorway of a London hotel. One year later, Rossetti presented that child as an androgynous, bejeweled, and servile rendering of blackness in his celebrated painting, “The Beloved”. This talk explores the implications of that encounter, and that rendering, for debates about the representation of enslavement and blackness in Rossetti’s own social circle, the wider Atlantic world in the 1860s, and among those who work with and against the troubled archive of Atlantic slavery.
“The Rules of the Game (of Art)”
Professor and Chair of the Fine Arts Department
University of Pennsylvania School of Design
Ken Lum will speak about what is for him the meaning of art, which he defines as living the life of the artist. While such a definition may sound romantic, living the life of an artist means a life where everything is relevant, from beautiful experiences to painful ones. It also means a life of profound misgivings about the art system in which art must operate. Lum will speak about how his mixed feelings about art have led to extensive travel and major curatorial and writerly initiatives.
Associate Professor of Art History, Dickinson College
“The Religion of Health: Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Cancer and the Phillips Brooks Monument”
In 1900, when the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens was diagnosed with cancer, he began experimenting with a dizzying array of medical cures and therapies from surgery to electric shock treatment to eating Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and “Fletcherizing.” Throughout his illness, and until his death in 1907, he also worked on the Phillips Brooks Monument, dedicated to the Boston preacher known for his compassionate presence in the sick room. This paper addresses the poignant interplay between the artist’s own body as it was consumed by disease and the production of the Brooks, which came to life as the sculptor worked and re-worked the folds in the preacher’s robes, his expression, gesture and stance.
Assistant Professor of History of Art on the Jye Chu Lectureship in Chinese Studies
Bryn Mawr College
“The Vision of Immortality in a Princely Stone Sarcophagus in Sixth-Century China”
Dated to 532 CE, Prince Yuan Mi’s lavishly engraved stone sarcophagus exemplifies a hitherto little understood Chinese visual strategy, i.e., using the imagery of diagonal gaze to make a persuasive visual argument. Because gaze in medieval Chinese literature was an idiom for “closeness” and “parallelism,” the artist used the slanting gaze to shorten the physical and psychological distance between the three-quarter-view gazers and the gazed at, a group of ancient filial paragons residing in a landscape setting in the outermost layer. In supporting this argument, this essay also looks into the epitaph buried with the sarcophagus, which similarly paints a beautified picture of the deceased prince as a good official, which he was not according to his official biography.
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.
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.
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.