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John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art

The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Alice L. Walton Foundation.

audio

Devin Allen, artist and 2017 fellow, The Gordon Parks Foundation. In April 2015, widespread protests in Baltimore, Maryland—locally termed the Baltimore Uprising—erupted after an African American man named Freddie Gray died from injuries he suffered while in police custody. Photographer Devin Allen, a native of Baltimore, immersed himself in the protests and made images of both civil unrest and community solidarity in his home city. The events in Baltimore corresponded to a larger national frustration around civilians being killed by police; soon, a mere two years after taking to photography, Allen became the third amateur photographer ever to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. At the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now” held on February 8, 2019, Allen, a 2018 Gordon Parks Foundation Fellow, discussed the ethics of photographing his community and the influence of Parks’s work on his own.

video

Melanee C. Harvey, assistant professor, department of art, Howard University; Kellie Jones, professor, department of art history and archaeology, and faculty fellow, Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS), Columbia University; Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History, Duke University, and Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professor, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art; Laura Wexler, professor of American studies, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and film and media studies, affiliate faculty in ethnicity, race, and migration, co-chair, Women’s Faculty Forum, director, The Photographic Memory Workshop, and primary investigator, The Photogrammar Project, Yale University; moderated by Anjuli Lebowitz, exhibition research associate, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art

Throughout his career, Gordon Parks explored many issues, including segregation, feminism, and nationhood, through writing, photography, and film. Much of Parks’s early photographic output came through his affiliation with government programs like the Works Progress Administration and the Office of War Information. At the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, art historians Melanee C. Harvey, Kellie Jones, Richard J. Powell, and Laura Wexler discuss Parks’s work for the government and how his photographs participated in a larger social conversation. This panel discussion is moderated by Anjuli Lebowitz.

 

 

audio

Devin Allen, artist and 2017 fellow, The Gordon Parks Foundation; Eric Gottesman, artist and co-founder, For Freedoms, and assistant professor of art, Purchase College, State University of New York; Rick Lowe, artist, founder, Project Row Houses, and clinical professor of art, University of Houston; Maséqua Myers, executive director, South Side Community Art Center; moderated by Philip Brookman, consulting curator, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art

For artists Devin Allen, Eric Gottesman, and Rick Lowe, art is inextricable from community.  As a photographer, Allen’s ethic considers what he owes his subjects; Gottesman’s For Freedoms project uses art to engage with citizenship; and Lowe’s Project Row Houses embrace the art of community development. As director of the South Side Community Art Center, Maséqua Myers orchestrates connections between residents of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood and art. The four discuss the stakes of the relationship between artists and communities, as Philip Brookman moderates, in this panel conversation at the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019.

audio

Kellie Jones, professor, department of art history and archaeology, and faculty fellow, Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS), Columbia University. The African American women in Charles White’s artworks possess tremendous physical capability and rich interior lives. These depictions of women contributed to an artistic conversation around feminism between White, Elizabeth Catlett, Gordon Parks, and others from the 1930s through the 1950s. Even writers and activists engaged with White’s work; activist Esther Cooper Jackson published White’s drawings in her journal, Freedom Ways, as if to illustrate her central idea that the state of American democracy could be seen in the living conditions of the black women. In her talk from the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, Kellie Jones describes how White’s contemporaries helped to shape his work and to provide feminist images of black women in the mid-20th century.

video

Laura Wexler, professor of American studies, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and film and media studies, affiliate faculty in ethnicity, race, and migration, cochair, Women’s Faculty Forum, director, The Photographic Memory Workshop, and primary investigator, The Photogrammar Project, Yale University. In 1942, Gordon Parks began working for Roy Stryker, head of the photographic division of Farm Security Administration, or FSA, during which time Parks traveled to Washington, DC, on assignment, documenting life under segregation in the nation’s capital. The next year, the FSA was absorbed into the Office of War Information, which sent Parks to photograph the Tuskegee Airmen. This assignment signaled for Parks a shift from making projects about internal national politics to documenting the war effort, and it had a profound effect on him. In her talk from the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, Laura Wexler describes Parks’s experience of segregation in the District and his transition from making. Here Wexler considers whether and how this transition experience might have influenced Parks’s later commitment to photography.

audio

Eric Gottesman, artist and cofounder, For Freedoms, and assistant professor of art, Purchase College, State University of New York. Eric Gottesman photographs, writes, makes videos, and teaches, using art to explore aesthetic, social and political culture; his work has taken him to countries like Ethiopia and Jordan and to indigenous communities in Canada with projects that have questioned nationhood and investigated local histories. With For Freedoms, “a platform for creative civic engagement, discourse, and direct action” founded in 2016 in collaboration with artist Hank Willis Thomas, Gottesman partners with institutions and communities all over the United States to facilitate meaningful political discourse and engaged citizenship through art. Gottesman spoke about his use of art for community-building at the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019.

audio

Melanee C. Harvey, assistant professor, department of art, Howard University. In a talk focusing on photographic examples of black church iconography from the 1920s through the 1940s, Melanee Harvey compares images of Washington, DC churches by Scurlock Studio photographers with Office of War Information photographs by Gordon Parks. Delivered as part of the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, Harvey’s talk describes the context and social function of these photographs, considering the repetition of visual themes used to represent African American religious spaces and practices. By deconstructing reductive visual tropes of the black church, Harvey finds diverse experiences within church experience and explores the diverse aesthetic traditions of black religious expression across denominations, regions and historical periods.

video

Robin Coste Lewis, Poet Laureate of Los Angeles and writer-in-residence, University of Southern California. In her National Book Award–winning debut collection, Voyage of the Sable Venus, poet Robin Coste Lewis both narrates and investigates the experience of black women across time and geography. To create the section that gave the book its title, Lewis first conducted countless hours of research in museums and compiled the titles and descriptions of works of art and craft (dated between 38,000 BCE and the present) that featured the images of black women. She then rearranged the titles to create what is at once an elegy for the black women in these artworks and an indictment of the violence done in the writing of Western art history. For the keynote lecture of the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, Lewis presented “Boarding the Voyage,” the epilogue to a new edition of Voyage of the Sable Venus, discussing the ways her project blends poetry, art history, and autobiography.

video

Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History, Duke University, and Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professor, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art. Archibald Motley’s painting Black Belt (1934) managed to do more than simply capture the ambience and tempo of Bronzeville, a predominantly African American neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Black Belt also made Bronzeville’s performative and transactional nature palpable, especially in the years of the Great Depression and in response to the mass migration of black Americans from the rural south to the urban north. Richard Powell’s talk, given as part of the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, recognizes Motley’s place in the history of African Americans describing their lives and communities in art.

video

Kellie Jones, professor, department of art history and archaeology, and faculty fellow, Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS), Columbia University. The African American women in Charles White’s artworks possess tremendous physical capability and rich interior lives. These depictions of women contributed to an artistic conversation around feminism between White, Elizabeth Catlett, Gordon Parks, and others from the 1930s through the 1950s. Even writers and activists engaged with White’s work; activist Esther Cooper Jackson published White’s drawings in her journal, Freedom Ways, as if to illustrate her central idea that the state of American democracy could be seen in the living conditions of the black women. In her talk from the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, Kellie Jones describes how White’s contemporaries helped to shape his work and to provide feminist images of black women in the mid-20th century.

audio

Maséqua Myers, executive director, South Side Community Art Center. The South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC) is the last of 110 community art centers started by the Works Progress Administration. Founded in 1940 by a team of artists that included Margaret Burroughs and Eldzier Cortor, SSCAC offered early support and instruction to writers and artists, such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Gordon Parks, in fulfillment of its mission to support the work of African American artists and to educate South Side residents on the significance of arts and culture for life. In recognition of the center’s decades of relevance to its Bronzeville neighborhood, in 2017 the National Trust for Historic Preservation named it a National Treasure, ensuring SSCAC’s survival for the next generation of Chicago residents. At the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, SSCAC director Maséqua Myers discusses the center’s legacy and its continued relevance for 21st-century artists and residents in Chicago.

audio

Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History, Duke University, and Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professor, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art. Archibald Motley’s painting Black Belt (1934) managed to do more than simply capture the ambience and tempo of Bronzeville, a predominantly African American neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Black Belt also made Bronzeville’s performative and transactional nature palpable, especially in the years of the Great Depression and in response to the mass migration of black Americans from the rural south to the urban north. Richard Powell’s talk, given as part of the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, recognizes Motley’s place in the history of African Americans describing their lives and communities in art.

audio

Robin Coste Lewis, Poet Laureate of Los Angeles and writer-in-residence, University of Southern California. In her National Book Award–winning debut collection, Voyage of the Sable Venus, poet Robin Coste Lewis both narrates and investigates the experience of black women across time and geography. To create the section that gave the book its title, Lewis first conducted countless hours of research in museums and compiled the titles and descriptions of works of art and craft (dated between 38,000 BCE and the present) that featured the images of black women. She then rearranged the titles to create what is at once an elegy for the black women in these artworks and an indictment of the violence done in the writing of Western art history. For the keynote lecture of the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, Lewis presented “Boarding the Voyage,” the epilogue to a new edition of Voyage of the Sable Venus, discussing the ways her project blends poetry, art history, and autobiography.

video

Maséqua Myers, executive director, South Side Community Art Center. The South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC) is the last of 110 community art centers started by the Works Progress Administration. Founded in 1940 by a team of artists that included Margaret Burroughs and Eldzier Cortor, SSCAC offered early support and instruction to writers and artists, such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Gordon Parks, in fulfillment of its mission to support the work of African American artists and to educate South Side residents on the significance of arts and culture for life. In recognition of the center’s decades of relevance to its Bronzeville neighborhood, in 2017 the National Trust for Historic Preservation named it a National Treasure, ensuring SSCAC’s survival for the next generation of Chicago residents. At the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, SSCAC director Maséqua Myers discusses the center’s legacy and its continued relevance for 21st-century artists and residents in Chicago.

video

Devin Allen, artist and 2017 fellow, The Gordon Parks Foundation. In April 2015, widespread protests in Baltimore, Maryland—locally termed the Baltimore Uprising—erupted after an African American man named Freddie Gray died from injuries he suffered while in police custody. Photographer Devin Allen, a native of Baltimore, immersed himself in the protests and made images of both civil unrest and community solidarity in his home city. The events in Baltimore corresponded to a larger national frustration around civilians being killed by police; soon, a mere two years after taking to photography, Allen became the third amateur photographer ever to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. At the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now” held on February 8, 2019, Allen, a 2018 Gordon Parks Foundation Fellow, discussed the ethics of photographing his community and the influence of Parks’s work on his own.

video

Rick Lowe, artist, founder, Project Row Houses, and clinical professor of art, University of Houston. In its 25-year history, Project Row Houses has grown from 22 houses on a block and a half in Houston’s Third Ward to six blocks and 40 properties. Artist Rick Lowe and his team have, among other things, renovated shotgun houses to provide homes for single mothers, built new structures for affordable housing, reinvigorated a historically black ballroom, and opened spaces for creating and displaying art. On February 8, 2019, as part of the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” Lowe describes the past and future of Project Row Houses and the continuing importance of its founding principle: “That art—and the community it creates—can be the foundation for revitalizing depressed inner-city neighborhoods.”

 

video

Devin Allen, artist and 2017 fellow, The Gordon Parks Foundation; Eric Gottesman, artist and co-founder, For Freedoms, and assistant professor of art, Purchase College, State University of New York; Rick Lowe, artist, founder, Project Row Houses, and clinical professor of art, University of Houston; Maséqua Myers, executive director, South Side Community Art Center; moderated by Philip Brookman, consulting curator, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art

For artists Devin Allen, Eric Gottesman, and Rick Lowe, art is inextricable from community.  As a photographer, Allen’s ethic considers what he owes his subjects; Gottesman’s For Freedoms project uses art to engage with citizenship; and Lowe’s Project Row Houses embrace the art of community development. As director of the South Side Community Art Center, Maséqua Myers orchestrates connections between residents of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood and art. The four discuss the stakes of the relationship between artists and communities, as Philip Brookman moderates, in this panel conversation at the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019.

audio

Laura Wexler, professor of American studies, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and film and media studies, affiliate faculty in ethnicity, race, and migration, cochair, Women’s Faculty Forum, director, The Photographic Memory Workshop, and primary investigator, The Photogrammar Project, Yale University. In 1942, Gordon Parks began working for Roy Stryker, head of the photographic division of Farm Security Administration, or FSA, during which time Parks traveled to Washington, DC, on assignment, documenting life under segregation in the nation’s capital. The next year, the FSA was absorbed into the Office of War Information, which sent Parks to photograph the Tuskegee Airmen. This assignment signaled for Parks a shift from making projects about internal national politics to documenting the war effort, and it had a profound effect on him. In her talk from the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, Laura Wexler describes Parks’s experience of segregation in the District and his transition from making. Here Wexler considers whether and how this transition experience might have influenced Parks’s later commitment to photography.

audio

Rick Lowe, artist, founder, Project Row Houses, and clinical professor of art, University of Houston. In its 25-year history, Project Row Houses has grown from 22 houses on a block and a half in Houston’s Third Ward to six blocks and 40 properties. Artist Rick Lowe and his team have, among other things, renovated shotgun houses to provide homes for single mothers, built new structures for affordable housing, reinvigorated a historically black ballroom, and opened spaces for creating and displaying art. On February 8, 2019, as part of the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” Lowe describes the past and future of Project Row Houses and the continuing importance of its founding principle: “That art—and the community it creates—can be the foundation for revitalizing depressed inner-city neighborhoods.”

 

video

Melanee C. Harvey, assistant professor, department of art, Howard University. In a talk focusing on photographic examples of black church iconography from the 1920s through the 1940s, Melanee Harvey compares images of Washington, DC churches by Scurlock Studio photographers with Office of War Information photographs by Gordon Parks. Delivered as part of the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, Harvey’s talk describes the context and social function of these photographs, considering the repetition of visual themes used to represent African American religious spaces and practices. By deconstructing reductive visual tropes of the black church, Harvey finds diverse experiences within church experience and explores the diverse aesthetic traditions of black religious expression across denominations, regions and historical periods.

video

Eric Gottesman, artist and cofounder, For Freedoms, and assistant professor of art, Purchase College, State University of New York. Eric Gottesman photographs, writes, makes videos, and teaches, using art to explore aesthetic, social and political culture; his work has taken him to countries like Ethiopia and Jordan and to indigenous communities in Canada with projects that have questioned nationhood and investigated local histories. With For Freedoms, “a platform for creative civic engagement, discourse, and direct action” founded in 2016 in collaboration with artist Hank Willis Thomas, Gottesman partners with institutions and communities all over the United States to facilitate meaningful political discourse and engaged citizenship through art. Gottesman spoke about his use of art for community-building at the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019.

audio

Melanee C. Harvey, assistant professor, department of art, Howard University; Kellie Jones, professor, department of art history and archaeology, and faculty fellow, Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS), Columbia University; Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History, Duke University, and Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professor, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art; Laura Wexler, professor of American studies, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and film and media studies, affiliate faculty in ethnicity, race, and migration, co-chair, Women’s Faculty Forum, director, The Photographic Memory Workshop, and primary investigator, The Photogrammar Project, Yale University; moderated by Anjuli Lebowitz, exhibition research associate, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art

Throughout his career, Gordon Parks explored many issues, including segregation, feminism, and nationhood, through writing, photography, and film. Much of Parks’s early photographic output came through his affiliation with government programs like the Works Progress Administration and the Office of War Information. At the John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, “American Communities, Then and Now,” held on February 8, 2019, art historians Melanee C. Harvey, Kellie Jones, Richard J. Powell, and Laura Wexler discuss Parks’s work for the government and how his photographs participated in a larger social conversation. This panel discussion is moderated by Anjuli Lebowitz.

 

 

audio

Molly Donovan, curator of art, 1975–present, National Gallery of Art, in conversation with artists Janine Antoni, Byron Kim, and Glenn Ligon. At the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art held on March 23, 2018 at the National Gallery of Art, Janine Antoni, Byron Kim, and Glenn Ligon, whose works are featured in the special installation Bodies of Work, discuss their art with Molly Donovan. The conversation rounded out the symposium’s focus on portraiture and the histories and processes of representing the human figure in the nation’s collection. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

 

video

Terence Washington, program assistant, department of academic programs, National Gallery of Art. In the poem “Joy,” Poet Laureate of the United States Tracy K. Smith describes the body alternately as memory, as appetite, and as this question: “What do you believe in?” Using works from the Gallery’s collection as examples, Terence Washington, at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art held on March 23, 2018 at the National Gallery of Art, considers different ways the body has been framed in American art. How have the nation’s artists articulated responses to the body’s question? What is at stake in the presentation of those answers here, in the nation’s gallery? The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

 

 

audio

David C. Driskell, artist, curator, and Distinguished University Professor of Art, Emeritus, University of Maryland at College Park. Archibald Motley Jr.’s paintings of African American subjects underwent drastic changes in style and reception during the artist’s long lifetime. After including Motley’s paintings in his Two Centuries of Black American Art exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1976, David Driskell visited Motley at his home in 1979 and 1980. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, David Driskell presents his recollections of those conversations as well as other impressions of Motley’s work formed during Driskell’s career as an art historian and curator. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

audio

Terence Washington, program assistant, department of academic programs, National Gallery of Art. In the poem “Joy,” Poet Laureate of the United States Tracy K. Smith describes the body alternately as memory, as appetite, and as this question: “What do you believe in?” Using works from the Gallery’s collection as examples, Terence Washington, at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art held on March 23, 2018 at the National Gallery of Art, considers different ways the body has been framed in American art. How have the nation’s artists articulated responses to the body’s question? What is at stake in the presentation of those answers here, in the nation’s gallery? The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

video

Nancy Anderson, curator and head, department of American and British paintings, National Gallery of Art. When the National Gallery of Art opened in 1941, only ten American paintings were on view. Almost all were portraits. Of these, only one was of a woman—the regal Catherine Brass Yates by Gilbert Stuart. Elegantly dressed in white silk, Mrs. Yates represents the essence of elite society in America following the Revolution. Seventy-five years later, another portrait of a woman in white has joined the collection. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, Nancy Anderson shares how Archibald John Motley Jr.’s moving portrait of his grandmother, Emily Sims Motley, a former slave, speaks to a very different American story. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

 

audio

Anne Whiston Spirn, author, photographer, landscape architect, and Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Many of Dorothea Lange’s photographs from the recent, important gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser appear in her books An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion (1939) and The American Country Woman (1967), in which she paired photographs to expand meaning. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, Anne Whiston Spirn looks at a selection of images from this collection in the context of the pair to which they belong and the captions that Lange wrote for them. “I used to think in terms of single photographs. The Bull’s-eye technique. No more. A photographic statement is what I now reach for. Therefore these pairs, like a statement of 2 words.” By the time she wrote this in 1958 Lange had been experimenting with pairing, sequencing, and captions for more than two decades. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

audio

Sarah Cash, associate curator, department of American and British paintings, National Gallery of Art. Sarah Cash presents a brief history of Hiram Powers’s marble sculpture The Greek Slave at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art. In particular, Cash considers the work’s changing display and reception, both public and private, in Washington, DC from 1848 onward. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

 

 

video

Molly Donovan, curator of art, 1975–present, National Gallery of Art, in conversation with artists Janine Antoni, Byron Kim, and Glenn Ligon. At the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art held on March 23, 2018 at the National Gallery of Art, Janine Antoni, Byron Kim, and Glenn Ligon, whose works are featured in the special installation Bodies of Work, discuss their art with Molly Donovan. The conversation rounded out the symposium’s focus on portraiture and the histories and processes of representing the human figure in the nation’s collection. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

 

audio

Nancy Anderson, curator and head, department of American and British paintings, National Gallery of Art. When the National Gallery of Art opened in 1941, only ten American paintings were on view. Almost all were portraits. Of these, only one was of a woman—the regal Catherine Brass Yates by Gilbert Stuart. Elegantly dressed in white silk, Mrs. Yates represents the essence of elite society in America following the Revolution. Seventy-five years later, another portrait of a woman in white has joined the collection. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, Nancy Anderson shares how Archibald John Motley Jr.’s moving portrait of his grandmother, Emily Sims Motley, a former slave, speaks to a very different American story. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

 

audio

Holly Bass, artistic director, Holly Bass|360. At the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, local artist Holly Bass discusses the importance of audience engagement as it relates to her current practice and the larger national conversation on equity, diversity, and inclusion. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

 

video

Judith Brodie, curator and head, department of modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art. Recent additions to the Gallery’s collection have sparked new discussions and new ways of thinking about “fine” art. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, Judith Brodie looks at some examples, including works by Winsor McCay, Saul Steinberg, and the Guerrilla Girls, and considers how they both challenge and conform to established thinking and in what way they reshape the conversation. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

video

Karen Lemmey, curator of sculpture, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, Karen Lemmey draws together the two replicas of The Greek Slave commissioned by William Humble Ward: one completed in 1846 and preserved in the Corcoran Collection at the National Gallery of Art, the other completed in 1848 and lost since the early 20th century. Sculptor Hiram Powers cleverly satisfied Lord Ward’s insistent demands for a unique version of the famed composition, revealing his ability to simultaneously entice and manage his patron’s desires. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

audio

John Fagg, lecturer, department of English literature, University of Birmingham. Robert Henri was referring to a cadaver he and his brother had just dissected when he confessed in an 1886 diary entry: “You put your self in his place.” Over the next two decades Henri developed and taught an approach to painting the body that emphasized breathing, feeling, and moving with one’s subject in reciprocal exchange. George Bellows, one of his students, embodied Henri’s theories in his fleshy, intuitive art, drawing on the experience of his own athletic body to picture the raw physicality of street kids, workers, and boxers. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, John Fagg explores the possibilities and limits of Bellows’s painting as a way to know and represent the bodies and lives of others. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

 

audio

Judith Brodie, curator and head, department of modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art. Recent additions to the Gallery’s collection have sparked new discussions and new ways of thinking about “fine” art. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, Judith Brodie looks at some examples, including works by Winsor McCay, Saul Steinberg, and the Guerrilla Girls, and considers how they both challenge and conform to established thinking and in what way they reshape the conversation. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

video

Holly Bass, artistic director, Holly Bass|360. At the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, local artist Holly Bass discusses the importance of audience engagement as it relates to her current practice and the larger national conversation on equity, diversity, and inclusion. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

 

video

Anne Whiston Spirn, author, photographer, landscape architect, and Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Many of Dorothea Lange’s photographs from the recent, important gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser appear in her books An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion (1939) and The American Country Woman (1967), in which she paired photographs to expand meaning. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, Anne Whiston Spirn looks at a selection of images from this collection in the context of the pair to which they belong and the captions that Lange wrote for them. “I used to think in terms of single photographs. The Bull’s-eye technique. No more. A photographic statement is what I now reach for. Therefore these pairs, like a statement of 2 words.” By the time she wrote this in 1958 Lange had been experimenting with pairing, sequencing, and captions for more than two decades. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

video

Sarah Cash, associate curator, department of American and British paintings, National Gallery of Art. Sarah Cash presents a brief history of Hiram Powers’s marble sculpture The Greek Slave at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art. In particular, Cash considers the work’s changing display and reception, both public and private, in Washington, DC from 1848 onward. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

 

 

audio

Charles Brock, associate curator, department of American and British paintings, National Gallery of Art. When Both Members of This Club by George Bellows was placed on view at the National Gallery of Art in January 1945 at the behest of Gallery benefactor Chester Dale, it became the first significant work by an American modernist painter to be featured in the permanent collection. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, Charles Brock discusses how this unsettling depiction of a violent interracial boxing match was acquired when there was little American or modern painting of any kind at the Gallery and established an important precedent for later efforts to better represent the diverse achievements of American modernism. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

 

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R. Tess Korobkin, PhD candidate, history of art, Yale University, and Ellen Holtzman Fellow, Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship in American Art, 2017–2018. The fact that Frederick Douglass, a former slave and an outspoken proponent of abolitionism, owned a statuette of Hiram Powers’s The Greek Slave raises difficult questions. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, Tess Korobkin highlights other examples of reproductions of the sculpture in a range of media to more fully explore the layered and sometimes contradictory political materialities of Powers’s work. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

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R. Tess Korobkin, PhD candidate, history of art, Yale University, and Ellen Holtzman Fellow, Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship in American Art, 2017–2018. The fact that Frederick Douglass, a former slave and an outspoken proponent of abolitionism, owned a statuette of Hiram Powers’s The Greek Slave raises difficult questions. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, Tess Korobkin highlights other examples of reproductions of the sculpture in a range of media to more fully explore the layered and sometimes contradictory political materialities of Powers’s work. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

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Charles Brock, associate curator, department of American and British paintings, National Gallery of Art. When Both Members of This Club by George Bellows was placed on view at the National Gallery of Art in January 1945 at the behest of Gallery benefactor Chester Dale, it became the first significant work by an American modernist painter to be featured in the permanent collection. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, Charles Brock discusses how this unsettling depiction of a violent interracial boxing match was acquired when there was little American or modern painting of any kind at the Gallery and established an important precedent for later efforts to better represent the diverse achievements of American modernism. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

 

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David C. Driskell, artist, curator, and Distinguished University Professor of Art, Emeritus, University of Maryland at College Park. Archibald Motley Jr.’s paintings of African American subjects underwent drastic changes in style and reception during the artist’s long lifetime. After including Motley’s paintings in his Two Centuries of Black American Art exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1976, David Driskell visited Motley at his home in 1979 and 1980. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, David Driskell presents his recollections of those conversations as well as other impressions of Motley’s work formed during Driskell’s career as an art historian and curator. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

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Karen Lemmey, curator of sculpture, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, Karen Lemmey draws together the two replicas of The Greek Slave commissioned by William Humble Ward: one completed in 1846 and preserved in the Corcoran Collection at the National Gallery of Art, the other completed in 1848 and lost since the early 20th century. Sculptor Hiram Powers cleverly satisfied Lord Ward’s insistent demands for a unique version of the famed composition, revealing his ability to simultaneously entice and manage his patron’s desires. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

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John Fagg, lecturer, department of English literature, University of Birmingham. Robert Henri was referring to a cadaver he and his brother had just dissected when he confessed in an 1886 diary entry: “You put your self in his place.” Over the next two decades Henri developed and taught an approach to painting the body that emphasized breathing, feeling, and moving with one’s subject in reciprocal exchange. George Bellows, one of his students, embodied Henri’s theories in his fleshy, intuitive art, drawing on the experience of his own athletic body to picture the raw physicality of street kids, workers, and boxers. Speaking at the second annual John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on March 23, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, John Fagg explores the possibilities and limits of Bellows’s painting as a way to know and represent the bodies and lives of others. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

 

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Justin Wolff, associate professor of art history, University of Maine. In November 1937 Life magazine featured four lithographs by the American artist Rockwell Kent (1882-1971) in the article “Four Ways in Which the World May End.” In this lecture from the inaugural John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held at the National Gallery of Art on October 22, 2016, Justin Wolff analyzes the so-called “End of the World” lithographs, part of the National Gallery of Art collection, in the context of scientific theories about cosmic cataclysm, suspicions that European fascism portended an apocalypse, and Kent’s solidarity with a radical leftism that anticipated capitalism’s disintegration. Wolff considers looking beyond their political meaning to what the lithographs tell us about Kent’s renowned emotional intensity and wanderlust—specifically, what they reveal about his tenacious quest to acquire psychic integrity in barren lands at the ends of the world. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.

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Justin Wolff, associate professor of art history, University of Maine. In November 1937 Life magazine featured four lithographs by the American artist Rockwell Kent (1882-1971) in the article “Four Ways in Which the World May End.” In this lecture from the inaugural John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held at the National Gallery of Art on October 22, 2016, Justin Wolff analyzes the so-called “End of the World” lithographs, part of the National Gallery of Art collection, in the context of scientific theories about cosmic cataclysm, suspicions that European fascism portended an apocalypse, and Kent’s solidarity with a radical leftism that anticipated capitalism’s disintegration. Wolff considers looking beyond their political meaning to what the lithographs tell us about Kent’s renowned emotional intensity and wanderlust—specifically, what they reveal about his tenacious quest to acquire psychic integrity in barren lands at the ends of the world. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.

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Randall Griffey, associate curator, department of modern and contemporary art, Metropolitan Museum of Art. American painter Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) entered the modernist canon as a result of the abstract paintings he created in Germany in 1914-1915. But the paintings he created of his home state of Maine late in his career beginning in 1937 brought him his greatest acclaim during his lifetime. In fact, Hartley began his career in 1909 at Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 gallery as a painter of Maine. Previewing a major exhibition to open in March 2017 at the Met Breuer and in July 2017 at the Colby College Museum of Art, Randall Griffey illuminates the painter’s dynamic, rich, and occasionally contradictory artistic engagement with his native Maine. Maine was to Hartley a springboard to imagination and creative inspiration, a locus of memory and longing, a refuge, and a means of communion with previous artists who painted there, especially Winslow Homer. Speaking at the inaugural John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on October 22, 2016, at the National Gallery of Art, Griffey showcases Hartley’s impressive range, from early post-impressionist interpretations of seasonal change in the region to late, folk-inspired depictions of Mount Katahdin, the state’s great geological landmark. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.

 

 

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Randall Griffey, associate curator, department of modern and contemporary art, Metropolitan Museum of Art. American painter Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) entered the modernist canon as a result of the abstract paintings he created in Germany in 1914-1915. But the paintings he created of his home state of Maine late in his career beginning in 1937 brought him his greatest acclaim during his lifetime. In fact, Hartley began his career in 1909 at Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 gallery as a painter of Maine. Previewing a major exhibition to open in March 2017 at the Met Breuer and in July 2017 at the Colby College Museum of Art, Randall Griffey illuminates the painter’s dynamic, rich, and occasionally contradictory artistic engagement with his native Maine. Maine was to Hartley a springboard to imagination and creative inspiration, a locus of memory and longing, a refuge, and a means of communion with previous artists who painted there, especially Winslow Homer. Speaking at the inaugural John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on October 22, 2016, at the National Gallery of Art, Griffey showcases Hartley’s impressive range, from early post-impressionist interpretations of seasonal change in the region to late, folk-inspired depictions of Mount Katahdin, the state’s great geological landmark. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.

 

 

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Jennifer Raab, assistant professor, department of the history of art, Yale University. What does it mean to see a work of art “in detail”? Speaking at the inaugural John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on October 22, 2016, at the National Gallery of Art, Jennifer Raab considers broader questions of detail, vision, and knowledge in 19th-century America by looking at a few of Frederic Church’s most famous landscape paintings. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.

 

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Rachael Z. DeLue, associate professor, department of art and archaeology, Princeton University. The modern American artist Arthur Dove (1880–1946) drew inspiration from the natural world when making his paintings and assemblages, but he also played around with found objects, popular music, sound technology, aviation, farm animals, meteorology, language, and script, including his own signature. The circle motifs that appear persistently across Dove’s art serve to signify and connect these disparate things, creating a vital and unique form of abstraction, one resolutely if paradoxically bound to objective reality and material existence. As Dove himself said, “there is no such thing as abstraction,” preferring the term “extraction” to describe the essential relationship between his work and the world. Speaking at the inaugural John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on October 22, 2016, at the National Gallery of Art, Rachael Z. DeLue discusses some of the chief characteristics of Dove’s extractions, focusing on examples from the Gallery’s collection. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.

 

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Rachael Z. DeLue, associate professor, department of art and archaeology, Princeton University. The modern American artist Arthur Dove (1880–1946) drew inspiration from the natural world when making his paintings and assemblages, but he also played around with found objects, popular music, sound technology, aviation, farm animals, meteorology, language, and script, including his own signature. The circle motifs that appear persistently across Dove’s art serve to signify and connect these disparate things, creating a vital and unique form of abstraction, one resolutely if paradoxically bound to objective reality and material existence. As Dove himself said, “there is no such thing as abstraction,” preferring the term “extraction” to describe the essential relationship between his work and the world. Speaking at the inaugural John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on October 22, 2016, at the National Gallery of Art, Rachael Z. DeLue discusses some of the chief characteristics of Dove’s extractions, focusing on examples from the Gallery’s collection. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.

 

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Wendy Bellion, associate professor, department of art history, University of Delaware. Trompe l’oeil art challenges viewers to make perceptual distinctions between things that look extraordinarily similar. It stages lessons in perception, imitation, and deception while piquing our delight in the pleasures of wit. Drawing upon the National Gallery of Art’s important collection of American still life painting, Wendy Bellion explores the serious fun of illusion in a lecture from the inaugural John Wilmerding Sympsoium on American Art, held at the National Gallery of Art on October 22, 2016. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.

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Mark D. Mitchell, Holcombe T. Green Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, Yale University Art Gallery. The genre of still life has enjoyed unexpected power in America’s artistic tradition. Its periodic resurgence provides distinct perspective on the nation’s cultural development hewn to individual experience. Speaking at the inaugural John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on October 22, 2016, at the National Gallery of Art, Mark D. Mitchell offers a new look at still life, its meaning in America, and its potential for future study. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.

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Jennifer Raab, assistant professor, department of the history of art, Yale University. What does it mean to see a work of art “in detail”? Speaking at the inaugural John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on October 22, 2016, at the National Gallery of Art, Jennifer Raab considers broader questions of detail, vision, and knowledge in 19th-century America by looking at a few of Frederic Church’s most famous landscape paintings. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.

 

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Wendy Bellion, associate professor, department of art history, University of Delaware. Trompe l’oeil art challenges viewers to make perceptual distinctions between things that look extraordinarily similar. It stages lessons in perception, imitation, and deception while piquing our delight in the pleasures of wit. Drawing upon the National Gallery of Art’s important collection of American still life painting, Wendy Bellion explores the serious fun of illusion in a lecture from the inaugural John Wilmerding Sympsoium on American Art, held at the National Gallery of Art on October 22, 2016. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.

audio

Mark D. Mitchell, Holcombe T. Green Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, Yale University Art Gallery. The genre of still life has enjoyed unexpected power in America’s artistic tradition. Its periodic resurgence provides distinct perspective on the nation’s cultural development hewn to individual experience. Speaking at the inaugural John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on October 22, 2016, at the National Gallery of Art, Mark D. Mitchell offers a new look at still life, its meaning in America, and its potential for future study. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.