Professor of Art and Art History, The College of New Jersey
“A Thoroughly Modern Major: Photography, Identity, and Politics at the Court of Hyderabad, India”
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the rapidly-changing courtly culture of the Indo-Islamic state of Hyderabad coalesced around the qualities of cosmopolitanism, hospitality, and sportsmanship. This talk unpacks the role photography played in defining that culture. It will do so by focusing on the Nizam of Hyderabad’s charismatic aide-de-camp, Sir Afsur ul-Mulk, both a prolific patron and celebrated subject of photography. As someone whose image can be read as simultaneously fulfilling and subverting social expectations, Sir Afsur allows us to rethink how categories such as race, religion, and “traditional” courtly culture have been constructed vis-à-vis modernity and modern visuality, as well as how the medium of photography was tied to the growth of a visual culture of “celebrity.”
Principal, Night Kitchen Interactive
“From Exclusion to Representation: Digital Exhibitions Interpreting Slavery, Disability and Prejudice in American History”
Museums, libraries and cultural institutions are constantly reframing their narratives to accommodate emerging voices and viewpoints as they strive to portray a more inclusive picture of American History. Stories that were largely only shared in scholarly circles are being presented to the general public. Digital exhibits, often more so than their physical counterparts, provide wonderful venues to explore these complex, multifaceted stories. Matthew will share his experiences collaborating with several institutions as they embraced challenging topics, including: Re-envisioning the www.monticello.org website with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation to accommodate the stories of slavery and plantation life, Exposing the “disturbingly informative” extremities of the human body in the Memento Mutter online exhibit for the Mutter Museum, and sharing the experiences of Japanese American WWII veterans and life in American Concentration Camps with the Smithsonian.
Matthew Fisher is Principal and Lead Interactive Designer for Night Kitchen Interactive (www.whatscookin.com), an award-winning digital storytelling studio based in Philadelphia. For nearly 20 years Matthew has partnered with museums and arts and cultural institutions to craft online exhibits and interactive installations, sharing his deep commitment to telling challenging stories and exploring difficult subject matter. Matthew has published several papers for the Museums and the Web annual proceedings including Rousing the Mobile Herd: Apps that Encourage Real Space Engagement (co-authored with Jennifer Moses, 2013) and co-authored a chapter in Letting Go?: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World (Left Coast Press, 2012). Matthew studied Drama and Filmmaking at Vassar College.
Associate Professor of History of Art and Chair of the Advanced Academic Program in Museum Studies, Johns Hopkins University
“We Must Have a Tent!: Exclamations and Elephants at the Metropolitan Museum’s Festival of India Exhibitions”
Professor of Art History, Lycoming College
President, Historians of Netherlandish Art
Rembrandt’s One Guilder Print: Value and Invention in “the most beautiful that ever came from the burin of this Master”
This essay explores how Rembrandt’s Hundred Guilder Print was conceived to rival and surpass several illustrious inventions by Raphael and Leonardo, and to be equated invalue to prints after Raphael. Value and price are measures of esteem and currency, and in the case of the Hundred Guilder Print, they both converge and diverge. Rembrandt combined a central group of Christ blessing the children and a rebuking apostle, with an unprecedented assembly of the Pharisees, the sick, and the rich man in one frame. This non-linear narrative is generally considered as proceeding from Matthew 19. However, Rembrandt ensured that the print could be given a wide application, for it was copied to illustrate the gospel texts Luke 6:17 and Matthew 8:16 in Melchior Küsel’s Icones Biblicae of 1679. The early reception of the print indicates it was immediately recognized as Rembrandt’s master print. This is a case in which a print, uniquely known by its reputed price, was understood to carry a variety of interpretations from its inception.
Amy Golahny holds the Richmond Chair in Art History at Lycoming College, Williamsport PA, and is currently the president of the Historians of Netherlandish Art. She has lectured and published extensively on and around Rembrandt. Recently she contributed the entry on Pieter Lastman to Oxford Bibliographies in Art History.
Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Delaware
“Kay WalkingStick, Creative Kinship, and Art History’s Tangled Legs”
This talk considers the artist Kay WalkingStick’s (b. 1935) reassessment of art historical difference through her engagement with global visual cultures collected in Renaissance Italy. Although WalkingStick participated in the postcolonial critique of modernism in the wake of the exhibition, “Primitivism in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern” in 1984, her own wide-ranging, elective affiliations suggest other trajectories of entanglement between European and indigenous makers. Jessica L. Horton positions her work at the intersection of Native American kinship studies and insights gleaned from the visual record of first contact.
Professor of History, Rutgers University
“Mrs. Henry Hobhouse Goes to War: Sexuality, Christianity and Conscience in World War I Britain”
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Art, Colby College
“Changing the Joke: Racial Humor and American Vernacular Photography”
In the decades following black emancipation, African Americans were the frequent subjects of humor in commercial photographs. Racial caricatures, which imagined black bodies as physically and socially deviant, set the stage for amateur photographic performances in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Not only did white Americans appropriate racial humor with remarkable regularity in their family snaps, but African Americans attempted to revive and subvert such humor in their own vernacular photographs. Focusing on the images and handwritten captions in family photo albums, this talk examines the personal and political work performed by comic photographic tropes in the Progressive Era.
Tanya Sheehan is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Art at Colby College, where she teaches American art history. She is the author of Doctored: The Medicine of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America (2011). Her edited books include Photography, History, Difference (2014), Photography and Its Origins (co-edited with Andres Zervigon, 2015), and the forthcoming Grove Guide to Photography (2016). As a research associate at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, she is completing a book that explores ideas about race in American visual humor. Tanya Sheehan currently serves as editor of the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art Journal and organizes the Photography and Migration Project based at Colby College.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Maryland Institute College of Art
“Coloring the Corpse: The Visual Culture of Chinese Death”
From the black of a widow’s weeds, to the sackcloth of a mourning gown, and the white of a shroud, death ritual is threaded through with color. In the English language, sorrow is described as “the blues,” while Chinese societies refer to the events that surround death as “white through and through.” Yet, while the study of mortuary rites is an enduring subject of humanistic inquiry, there has been little consideration of color as a pivotal way death is codified. Drawing on perspectives from material culture studies— color understood as a property of things—I interrogate how color structures grief, challenging current anthropological understandings of the connection between ritual, emotion, and materiality. My examples are drawn from ethnographic fieldwork in Chinese funeral parlors Singapore, where I worked as both anthropologist and embalmer. To consider color is, I argue, to attend to the very matter of life and death.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History, Swarthmore College
“Miraculous Images and the Devotional Topography of Colonial Mexico City”
At the height of the baroque period in colonial Mexico City (ca.1650-1775), miraculous paintings and statues drew throngs of devotees to countless chapels arrayed across the urban landscape. Professor Burdette will examine the important role played by these miraculous statues in the construction of a sacred landscape within the urban sphere of Mexico City and its environs. Looking beyond the more famous examples of miraculous imagery found in rural shrines, including Our Lady of Guadalupe, Burdette will argue that the city’s lesser-known statues and paintings played a vital role in shaping the devotional and political life of Mexico City. These neighborhood images, although less well-known, were woven into the fabric of the city, shaping a devotional topography that concretized religious and social order within the contested space of the city.