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.
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.
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?
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.