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Hello Alumni,

Happy September! I hope you had an enjoyable Labor Day Weekend, doing precisely nothing–whatever that might mean for you. I, myself spent the weekend in Eugene and Portland, Oregon to attend a disco-themed party for a family friend’s 70th birthday. There were a few trees with hints of red and brown, but for the most part I enjoyed the lush green landscapes. I can’t think of a better way to bid farewell to summer than basking in the breezes of the pacific northwest. Though that being said, we still have a stretch of 80 degree weather ahead of us in NYC.

Here’s to pulling out our sweaters soon! In the meantime, please feel free to send me your news via the online form, or by emailing the alumni gmail account. 

Rachael Schwabe (MA ‘20)

Alumni Spotlight

Emily Banas (MA ‘15) was promoted to Associate Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the RISD Museum where she has worked since 2015. Congratulations, Emily!

As senior curator of decorative arts at the Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC, Brian Gallagher (MA ‘98, MPhil ‘12) organized the special exhibition, Walter Scott Lenox and American Belleek, which opens on September 23, 2023, and will be on view through January 21, 2024. Well done, Brian! 

Select Career Opportunities

The Atlantic History Workshop at New York University invites proposals for their conference taking place in April 2024 about ideas of gender and belonging, particularly among Africans, people of African descent, and Native and Indigenous peoples across the Atlantic. Application materials are due by November 15. 

The Roosevelt Institute for American Studies has issued a call for papers for their international fall PhD seminar taking place in Middelburg in December. Application materials are due by September 29. 

The editors of SEQUITUR, a graduate student journal published by the Department of History of Art & Architecture at Boston University, invite current and recent graduate students to submit content on the theme of “Threads” for their Fall 2023 issue. 

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is hiring a director. Application materials are due by September 8.  

The Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center has opened a search for a director. Application materials are due by September 22. 

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is seeking a Penny Vinik chair of fashion, textiles, and jewelry.

The American Irish Historical Society is accepting applications for an executive director.

The Denver Botanic Gardens seeks to hire an assistant curator of exhibitions.

For more job listings please visit the BGC job board.

Password: CareersBGC2023*=*

Select BGC Events

Making Mondrian’s Dress
Wednesday, September 13
6 pm
Drawing on their book, Mondrian’s Dress: Yves Saint Laurent, Piet Mondrian, and Pop Art (forthcoming in October from MIT Press), Nancy Troy and Ann Tartsinis (MA ‘11) examine Yves Saint Laurent’s 1965 dress series, for the first time looking critically at the significance of these designs for the French couturier’s career, their impact on Piet Mondrian’s posthumous reception, and their resonances with the pop art of Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann, and Andy Warhol. Building on a growing foundation of scholarship on fashion brand development and the rise of the ready-to-wear market during the postwar period, Troy and Tartsinis show how the practicalities of American manufacturing and merchandising proved crucial for the circulation and rampant copying of these couture dresses, which would become, thanks to the mass media, Saint Laurent’s most iconic designs.

Boucher and the Decorative Arts: Promoting and Maintaining His Fame
Wednesday, September 20
6 pm
In this lecture, Pascal Bertrand will explore the role of the decorative arts in the process of making and maintaining an artist’s fame, using the example of the quintessentially Rococo painter François Boucher. Boucher’s art was translated to a wide range of mediums—primarily tapestry and porcelain, but also gold and lacquer objects as well as printed fabrics and fans. How did he use these decorative arts to build his own reputation? And how did the decorative arts transmediate his paintings, prints, and drawings to disseminate them during his lifetime and preserve them after his death, right up to the present day? While the first question has been the subject of specific in-depth studies in one medium or another (porcelain in particular), Bertrand’s lecture considers the second question, and the significance of intermediality.

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Select Virtual and In-Person Events in the World

Sonya Clark: We Are Each Other
Cranbrook Art Museum
Saturday, September 9
2:30 pm CT (In Person)
Join the Cranbrook Art Museum for a panel discussion (2:30-4pm) and closing reception (4-5pm) on Sonya Clark: We Are Each Other. Sonya Clark will be joined in conversation by Renée Ater, Provost Visiting Associate Professor, of Africana Studies at Brown University who contributed the essay The Monumental Work of Sonya Clark: Community, the Everyday, and Reshaping History to the catalog for the exhibition and the conversation will be moderated by Joey Quiñones, Cranbrook Academy of Art’s newly appointed Artist in Residence and Head of the Fiber Department. Introduction by Laura Mott, Chief Curator, Cranbrook Art Museum. The program will be closed with poetry readings inspired by the work of Sonya Clark with Nandi Comer, Poet Laureate of Michigan.

Yijie Zhuang on “Building the Liangzhu City: Labour Organisation and Rice Economies”
Columbia Center for Archaeology
Tuesday, September 12
6:10 pm ET (In Person)
Liangzhu Civilization is a civilization of water, rice, and earthen works. Recent
archaeological campaigns have unveiled Liangzhu’s unprecedented ability to systematically alter its water systems for multiple purposes and modify its marshy landscape for an enormous scale of earthen construction. Anchoring these impressive achievements were the Liangzhu’s highly developed rice economies and streamlined labor orchestration. This talk draws together environmental, archaeological and experimental data and discusses how key resources were collected and transported to build the Liangzhu monuments, including the walls and dams, and labor organization behind these. In tandem with this line of inquiry on earthen work construction are the recent excavations of some remarkably well-preserved Liangzhu period paddy fields across the Yangtze Delta region, which provide us valuable palimpsests of how rice fields were built, water was manipulated, and rice was grown during the Liangzhu period. Macro- and micro-scale archaeological and environmental evidence will be presented and its implications to understand Liangzhu society and economic structure will be discussed.

Seeding Change: The Politics of Plants
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Thursday, September 14
7 pm ET (In Person)
Plants provide a medium for the creative expression of individual identities, shared narratives, and collective memories, yet they are also inherently political, and never more so than in the midst of our rapidly warming climate. As changes to the climate become more volatile, how are designers, gardeners, and others who work directly with plants developing adaptive strategies to changes, both environmental and social? This program features landscape architect Rosetta S. Elkin of Pratt Institute and Uli Lorimer, Director of Horticulture for the Native Plant Trust, in conversation with Erika Rumbley, the Museum’s Stanley P. Kozak Director of Horticulture, and Charles Waldheim, the Gardner’s Ruettgers Curator of Landscape and Irving Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. 

Representations of Pilgrims at the Holy Sites of Mecca and Medina in Futuh Al-Haramayn Manuscripts 
Silsila: Center for Material Histories
Wednesday, September 20
6:30 pm ET (In Person and Virtual)
Written in India in the early sixteenth century, the Futuh al-Haramayn is one of the most widely copied Islamic pilgrimage texts of the pre-modern era. Over 100 manuscript copies of the Persian text are known, most accompanied by a consistent set of illustrations that follow in a long lineage of depicting the holy sites of Mecca and Medina. Four little-known examples, however, include depictions of pilgrims and other faithful in the act of visiting the sites. By including in their illustrations, a human presence, and a set of very human emotions, these manuscripts disrupt the otherwise sterile presentation of the holy sites that is found in most copies of the Futuh. They furthermore bring into question much about how Futuh manuscripts have been studied in the past, especially issues around how the illustrations function in relation to the text, and how they reflect, or not, the experience of performing the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.  

Both/And: Crip Materiality with Jessica Cooley
American Folk Art Museum
Thursday, September 21
1 pm ET (Virtual)
A significant part of AFAM’s collection was produced by artists with disabilities working outside of conventional art institutions and contexts. Such objects and their makers challenge conventional modes of viewing and interpretation. Curator Brooke Wyatt invites curator and scholar Jessica A. Cooley to present her curatorial framework of “crip materiality,” which addresses the unseen ableism in the care, conceptualization, and exhibition of material objects in museum institutions. The speakers will highlight the ethical questions raised in the collection, interpretation, and display of works by artists including James Castle, Martha Ann Honeywell, and Martín Ramírez, as well as the collection of hand-tinted vernacular photographs currently on view in Material Witness. Inspired by artist and writer Lorraine O’Grady who uses the concept of “both/and” to think in a non-hierarchical way, the “Both/And” program series explores the breadth and complexities of AFAM’s collection beyond the untrained/skilled, craft/art, and amateur/fine art divides. Speakers approach artists and their objects as agents capable of posing questions to us, the viewers, rather than the other way around.

Dressing the Interior in the Early Modern Network Conference
Leiden University
Saturday, September 23
10 am – 5 pm CEST (In Person)
Textiles, wall and furniture coverings played an important role in dressing interiors in the early modern period. From curtains to chairs, tables and beds a variety of textiles was needed to protect, adorn and transform rooms, homes and palaces. They were an important part of the dwelling as they linked the interiors together and showcased the taste and material means of the owners. Different rooms in the house served diverse purposes, from more public spaces such as waiting rooms, reception rooms and ballrooms to more private rooms such as the bedroom with its antechambers. In other households, rooms often had multiple functions and in many cases the distinction between private and public interior was more flexible. Textiles played an important role in distinguishing and modifying these spaces while giving a glimpse of the relationship that the owners had with those interiors. Mei Mei Rado (PhD ‘18) will present a paper in Session 1: Interior and Experience, entitled, “Dangerous Liaisons Revisited: Drapery and Dress in Eighteenth-Century French Interiors.”


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