April 13, 2022 – Genevieve Yue

Assistant Professor of Culture and Media
Director of Screen Studies, Eugene Lang College, the New School

“The Woman in the Film Archive”

The film archive is outwardly governed by a rational, orderly system, though less attention is given to the operation of desire that undergirds it. In archival theory, this is sometimes articulated as a quest for Gradiva, a chimerical woman from an obscure early twentieth century novella by Wilhelm Jensen. In this talk, trace the Gradivan motif of the vanished woman from writings by Sigmund Freud and Jacques Derrida to its expression in films by Bill Morrison, Cheryl Dunye, and Radha May.

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April 20, 2022 – Alicia Walker

Professor, Department of History of Art, Bryn Mawr College

“The Materiality of Xaris in Early Byzantium”

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The Greek word xaris was associated with the idea of divine grace in early Christian thought. Less often recognized, however, the term had deep roots in the Greco-Roman pagan tradition, which associated xaris with the radiating beauty and charisma of the gods. Alicia Walker reconsiders a corpus of early Byzantine gold jewelry that is typically explained in terms of Christian iconographic and theological principles. She proposes these objects should instead be understood as bridging Greco-Roman ideals of physical beauty and allure with emerging early Christian principles of spiritual power.

September 28, 2021 – Alexis Peskine

Please note: This colloquium is on a Tuesday from noon to 2pm.

“Afro-Diasporic Alchemists: We Got The Gold”

Alexis Peskine’s signature works are large-scale mixed media ‘portraits’ of the African diaspora, which are rendered by hammering nails of different gauge, with pin-point accuracy, into wood stained with coffee and mud. By applying gold leaf to the nails he creates breathtaking composite images. He depicts figures that portray strength and perseverance, with energy reminiscent of the spiritually charged Minkisi ‘power figures’ of the Congo Basin. Peskine also produces striking photography and video works.

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ART AND RACE IN FRANCE

This series was made possible with the generous support from the Office of the Provost, the Department of French and Francophone Studies, the Film Studies Program, the Center for Visual Culture, the Africana Studies Program, the Museum Studies Program, the International Studies Program, the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, the Middle Eastern Studies Program, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and the Department of History.

October 27, 2021 – Mariola Alvarez

Assistant Professor of Art History
Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Temple University

“Abstract Painting and Diaspora in Brazilian Postwar Art”

This paper examines the evolution of postwar Brazilian abstract art considering in particular how Japanese immigrant artists negotiated between the influences of Japanese artistic and cultural traditions, the Brazilian debates between the concrete and informalist art schools, and the global proliferation of abstraction after the Second World War. Japanese Brazilian artists did not fit neatly into the Western model of artmaking, and moreover, called into question the national model at the center of the discipline of art history. Applying diaspora theory to the study of their art, I analyze their work as a way to de-center the U.S. narrative about postwar abstract art.

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November 1, 2021 – Amy Knight Powell – 7PM Monday evening colloquium

Amy Knight Powell
Associate Professor of Art History
University of Southern California

“A Picture of an Interior in the Slave-fort at Elmina c. 1669”

In 1669, a forgotten Dutch painter named Pieter de Wit depicted the private quarters of the Director-General of the Dutch West India Company in Africa, luxurious rooms situated on the upper floor of the slave-fort in Elmina—well above the barracoons in the dungeon. This depiction of a seventeenth-century colonial interior offers a glimpse into the early modern formation of the racialized ideology of liberal personhood, which deploys domestic space as a metaphor for the interiority of the human subject.

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November 10, 2021 – Amanda Phillips

Amanda Phillips
Associate Professor, Islamic Art and Material Culture
Department of Art, University of Virginia

“Seeing Labor: Textiles, Art, and Artisanship”

Textiles sit between several fields of study, and even between disciplines. Individual objects may be treated as works of art, while written sources and archaeology attest to the scale of their production, trade, and consumption, suggesting some types are best understood as commodities. Taking this tension into account, this talk makes a preliminary step in exploring how art historians and scholars of material culture might use extant objects to understand how artisans worked, and to propose some new ideas about processes and decision-making or perhaps even authorship. It uses several examples—a large silk hanging made ca. 1400, velvet upholstery woven ca. 1600, and a blue and white cotton made ca. 1700s—to work through ideas of labor, skill, and technology, and some possible implications for the study of art and craft.

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