2020-2021

Symposium Date: April 17, 2021

As a discipline, art history is largely focused on physical materials. Canvas, clay, paper, and stone define works of art and reveal the hands of their artists. From formal analysis to new materialism, art historians espouse methods that recognize objects’ physical properties and provide insight into the context of their production. Though rooted in traditional art historical methodologies, material studies are increasingly situated in the expanded field. Art historians now examine the physical makeup of artworks in relation to site, social practice, and historical context. This new focus allows scholars to critically investigate methods of exchange, examining relationships between artists, media, and viewers. However, this turn to materialism has come at a time when digital technology frequently mediates access to physical objects. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates this tension, as access to archives and museums is limited. In this current moment, what does materiality offer to art history?

This symposium investigates the turn to materialism in art history, redirecting attention to physical objects, their entanglements within a site, and their relationship with viewers.

Schedule of Events:

all in Pacific Standard Time, free and open to the public

email ahsa@uoregon.edu for Zoom link

9:45am: Opening Remarks

10:00-11:00am: The Ground Underfoot

  • Srishti Sankaranarayanan, PhD Student, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, “Bound and Binding: Water’s Niche in the Temple Tanks of Tamil Nadu”
  • Nicholas Fernacz, AM Student, University of Pennsylvania, “Safely Maneuvering Across Linhe Road and Infrastructure as Medium”
  • Joseph M. Sussi, PhD Student, University of Oregon, “Cracks in the Void: Toxic Touring Between Activism and Visual Practice”  

11:15am-12:30pm: The Metallic Interior

  • Colton Klein, MA Student, Columbia University, “‘Rust-Flavored Air’: Materiality and Ecocriticism in Charles Burchfield’s Hillside Homes”
  • Nicole Grewell, MA Candidate, George Mason University, “‘The Yellow Wallpaper’: How Domestic Victorian Material Culture Disproportionately Affected Female Health”
  • Annemarie Iker, PhD Candidate, Princeton University, “Ironworks and the Secretive Art of Santiago Rusiñol and the Catalan Modernistes”
  • Fionn Montell-Boyd, DPhil Student, University of Oxford, “‘(P)articles of Silver’: Photography, Metal, and the Myth of Dematerialisation”

12:30-1:30pm: Lunch

1:30-2:30pm: The Material at Hand

  • Mia Hafer, PhD Student, University of Kansas, “Material Manipulation for Affective Invocation: The Case of a Walrus Ivory Christ”
  • Zoey Kambour, MA Student, University of Oregon, “Journey of the Medieval Pigment: An Investigation on the Impact of Trade and Location on the Use of Pigments”
  • Christine Stringer, MA Candidate, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, “Answering to Softness: The Materiality of Sumando Ausencias”

2:45-3:45pm: The Body Encountered

  • Kathryn Barulich, PhD Candidate, University of California San Diego, “Annette Messager’s ‘Penetration’: The Microbial Self and Immersive Installation”
  • Katherine Fein, PhD Candidate, Columbia University, “The Elephant in the Miniature”
  • Cory Wayman, MA Candidate, University of Utah, “Flesh and Stone: The Performative Politics of Biography in Ada Pinkston’s Embodied Monuments”

4:30pm: Keynote Lecture

  • “In the Streets and On the Walls: Documenting and Analyzing Protest Art”

The keynote lecture will be delivered by Dr. Heather Shirey and Dr. David Todd Lawrence. Dr. Shirey is a Professor of Art History at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA. Her teaching and research focus on race and identity, migrations and diasporas, and street art and its communities. Dr. Lawrence is Associate Professor of English at the University of St. Thomas, where he teaches African-American literature and culture, folklore studies, and cultural studies. Together with geographer Dr. Paul Lorah, Dr. Shirey and Dr. Lawrence co-direct the Urban Art Mapping research team. Urban Art Mapping is a multi-disciplinary group of faculty and students from the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas. The group created and manages two street art archives: the Covid-19 Street Art Database and the George Floyd and Anti-Racist Street Art Database.