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AHAA Biennial Symposium

About the Symposium

The Association of Historians of American Art, one of the oldest membership organizations devoted to elevating American art, held its biennial symposium on Thursday, October 14, and Friday, October 15, 2021.  

Jointly organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the University of Maryland, this event celebrated the fortieth anniversary of AHAA (2019) and the fiftieth anniversary of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s preeminent fellowship program (2020). ). All prerecorded sessions, including the keynote, will remain available on this website until October 31, 2021.

Registration for the symposium is free, but an active membership in AHAA is required to access the digital content. To join or renew your membership please click here. AHAA offers several levels of membership: Student/Basic ($35), Member ($50), Supporter ($200), Lifetime (one-time payment of $500), and Institutional ($500). Once you have verified your membership status, please click here to complete your registration.   


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Welcoming Remarks (watch)

  • Jeffrey Richmond-Moll, Curator of American Art, Georgia Museum of Art & Co-Chair, AHAA
  • Jordana Moore Saggese, Associate Professor, University of Maryland & Co-Chair, 2021 AHAA Symposium
  • Stephanie Stebich, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director, Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM)
  • Amelia Goerlitz, Chair of Academic Programs, SAAM & Co-Chair, 2021 AHAA Symposium


Session I - Lightning Round (watch full session) 

Katherine Fein Katherine Fein, Columbia University
“Tusk, Breast, and Skin: The Intimate Ecologies of Ivory Miniatures”
Abstract | (watch)

Katherine Fein is a PhD candidate in art history at Columbia University, where she also completed a graduate certificate with the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Her dissertation, “The Garb of Nature: Art, Nudity, and Ecology in the Nineteenth-Century United States,” uncovers how representations of unclothed bodies make visible the ecological entanglement of human beings and the natural world. In 2019, she published an article about nineteenth-century life casting in British Art Studies, and her article about abolitionist photography, tactility, and whiteness is forthcoming in Oxford Art Journal as the recipient of the 2020 Essay Prize for Early Career Researchers. Her research has been supported by Columbia University as well as the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts.

Lucy Mounfield Lucy Mounfield, University of Nottingham
“‘Quite Good for an Amateur!’: Vivian Maier, Amateurism, and the Photographic Periphery”
Abstract | (watch)

Lucy Mounfield is a history of art PhD candidate in the Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies at the University of Nottingham. She is currently in her fourth-year write-up period, aiming to submit in early summer 2021 and viva early autumn. She is conducting her thesis in the history of photography under the supervision of Dr. Mark Rawlinson and Dr. Lucy Bradnock. Her thesis project uses the photography of Vivian Maier (1926--2009) as a locus for a wider discussion of the figure of the amateur within the historiography of photography.  During her PhD, she has had three articles published with international peer-review journals. Most recently, her article "'Little Gems of Color': Kodak, Camera Design as Fashion, and the Gendering of Photography," was published with the leading photography journal Transbordeur.

Danya Epstein Danya Epstein, Southern Methodist University
“Back to the Future: Recursivity and Repertoire in the Work of Dennis Numkena”
Abstract | (watch)

Danya Epstein is a PhD candidate in art history at Southern Methodist University. A former naturopathic physician, she has an MA in art history from Arizona State University, and an AB in French from Princeton University. Her area of interest is American and Native American art and architecture of the Southwest.


Emma Silverman Emma Silverman, National Park Service
“What a Doll: Queering the Body in Greer Lankton’s Photographs”
Abstract | (watch)


Dr. Emma Silverman is a Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow with the National Park Service, where she generates research and public programs connecting Revolutionary War monuments with contemporary debates over public culture. Emma is also working on a book manuscript on the Watts Towers in Los Angeles, a backyard structure that became a contested public monument. She has a PhD in art history from UC Berkeley and an MA from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. 

Joshua Shannon Joshua Shannon, University of Maryland

Joshua Shannon is a professor of contemporary art history and theory at the University of Maryland. His research and teaching focus on modern and contemporary art in relationship to social and cultural history, with special interests in architecture, cities, landscape, and ecology. His publications include The Disappearance of Objects: New York Art and the Rise of the Postmodern City (Yale Univ. Press, 2009), The Recording Machine: Art and Fact During the Cold War (Yale Univ. Press, 2017) and, with Jason Weems and Laura Bieger, Humans (Terra/Chicago, forthcoming 2021).


Session II - Health and the Body (watch full session) 

Caitlin Beach Caitlin Beach, Fordham University
“Edmonia Lewis and the Poetics of Plaster”
Abstract | (watch)

Caitlin Meehye Beach is an assistant professor of art history at Fordham University, where her teaching and research focus on transatlantic histories of art of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her first book, Sculpture at the Ends of Slavery, is in contract with the University of California Press and will be published in 2022 as a recipient of the University of Maryland-Philips Collection Book Prize. Research for this project has been supported by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Paul Mellon Centre, the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Royal Academy of Arts. Her writing has appeared in British Art Studies, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, and in the volume Republics and Empires: Italian and American Art in Transnational Perspective, 1840--1970 (Manchester Univ. Press, 2021). She holds an A.B. from Bowdoin College and a PhD from Columbia University.

Kristen Nassif Kristen Nassif, University of Delaware
“Blinding Sight: Vision and Spectacles in John Haberle's Trompe l'Oeil Paintings”
Abstract | (watch)

Kristen Nassif is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of Delaware. Her dissertation, “Blindness: Unseeing Sight in American Art and Material Culture,” explores how the loss or absence of sight mattered in experiences of making and understanding works of art between the 1870s and 1890s in the United States. Chapters examine objects ranging from tactile relief maps created for the blind; to paintings of vision aids and spectacles; sculptures depicting the blind and disabled; and anatomical models and X-rays. Interdisciplinary in scope and content, her research uncovers the entwined histories of art and disability. Kristen has received support for her research through the College Art Association, UD’s Center for Material Culture Studies, and the College of Arts and Sciences. She earned her BA in biology, art history, and studio art from Colby College and her MA in art history from Tufts University.

Janine DeFeoJanine DeFeo, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
“Body and Self: Adrian Piper's Food for the Spirit and the Discourses of Anorexia Nervosa”
Abstract | (watch)

Janine DeFeo is a PhD candidate in art history at the City University of New York Graduate Center and a 2021--2022 Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Dia Art Foundation. Her research has been supported by a Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellowship at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the CUNY Graduate Center’s Early Research Initiative. Janine worked as a Joan Tisch Teaching Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art, has taught courses at Baruch College, CUNY, and worked with students and faculty at Hostos Community College as a writing fellow. Her dissertation, “Food and the Social Body in US Art, 1962--1983” theorizes and historicizes the material use of food in American performance art of the 1960s and 1970s. A fundamentally interdisciplinary project situated between food studies and art history, the dissertation brings artworks by David Hammons, Alison Knowles, Suzanne Lacy, and Adrian Piper into conversation with historically contemporary developments and issues in American food culture. The dissertation argues that these artists used food in performance to articulate a ‘social body’: an experience of the physical body as entangled with, interpellated by, and sustained by its social and political roles.

Tess KorobkinTess Korobkin, University of Maryland

Tess Korobkin is an assistant professor of American art at the University of Maryland with a specialization in the visual culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her research focuses on histories of sculpture and photography, the politics of materiality and intermediality, public monuments, critical race art history, and the visual culture of race and violence in American modernism. Korobkin's current book project, "Sculptural Bodies of the Great Depression," reveals how American artists in the 1930s reinvented the form and politics of sculpture's public life in response to the era's societal turbulence, emergent modernisms, and the rise of documentary photography. Her research has been supported by the Smithsonian Institution and its Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Luce Foundation/ACLS, and the Lunder Institute for American Art. She holds a PhD from Yale University and is an alumna of the Joan Tisch Teaching Fellows Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art.



Session III - New Perspectives on Portraiture and Still Life (watch full session) 

Lea Stephenson Lea Stephenson, University of Delaware
“Tactile Gestures and Embodied Objects: Newport Portraiture and Landscapes of Slavery”
Abstract | (watch)

Lea C. Stephenson is a PhD student in art history at the University of Delaware. She focuses on late nineteenth-century American and British art, specifically the Gilded Age and the relationship between the senses, embodiment, and portraiture. Her current projects explore late nineteenth-century Egyptomania and the relationship between American Orientalism and whiteness. She received her MA from the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art in 2017. Stephenson has also previously worked at the Preservation Society of Newport County, Dallas Museum of Art, the Clark Art Institute, and Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Stephen Mandravelis Stephen Mandravelis, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
“Towards a Reconsideration of Charles Bird King”
Abstract | (watch)

Stephen Mandravelis is an assistant professor of art history at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He received his PhD in the art and material culture of the United States from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018. His research focuses on the interaction of art and everyday life, specifically how vernacular images and objects shaped ideas of popular taste, geopolitical standing, and self-identity in the long nineteenth-century. His research complicates the definition of art by highlighting how non-elite consumers optically engaged with their material surroundings and exploring challenges to traditional artistic hierarchies. Stephen’s work has been supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, SECAC, the Royster Society of Fellows, and others. His writing has appeared in Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, Nineteenth-Century American History; Southern Things: A Place, Its People, and Its Things; and Not About Face: Identity and Appearance, Past and Present.

Nika Elder Nika Elder, American University

Nika Elder is an assistant professor of American art at American University in Washington, D.C. Her research and teaching focus on the mutually constitutive relationship between art and race from the colonial period to the present. She is the author of William Harnett’s Curious Objects: Still-Life Painting after the American Civil War (forthcoming, University of California Press) and has published essays on nineteenth-century and twentieth-century American art in the Archives of American Art Journal, Art Journal, and the Routledge Companion to African American Art. Her second book focuses on Anglo-American painter John Singleton Copley and locates his work and career in the context of the transatlantic slave trade. Related articles appear or are forthcoming in Winterthur Portfolio and Art History.


Session IV - Artists as Community Catalysts (watch full session) 

Maya Harakawa Maya Harakawa, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
“Romare Bearden's Harlem Exhibitions, 1966--1967”
Abstract | (watch)

Maya Harakawa is a PhD candidate at the Graduate Center, CUNY, where she focuses on postwar art of the United States and art of the African Diaspora. Her dissertation, "After the Renaissance: Art and Harlem in the 1960s," is the first book-length art historical study of Harlem in the postwar period. Maya has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, and the Getty Research Institute. During the 2021--2022 academic year, she will be a doctoral fellow at the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean at the Graduate Center.

Danielle O'Steen Danielle O'Steen, Kreeger Museum
“Lou Stovall in Washington: On the Craft of Screenprinting”
Abstract | (watch)

Danielle O’Steen is an art historian and curator based in Philadelphia. She was the inaugural curator at The Kreeger Museum in Washington, DC, where she is currently curating the exhibition Lou Stovall: On Inventions and Color to open in January 2022. O’Steen has held fellowship positions at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and worked in the curatorial departments at The Phillips Collection, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. She holds a PhD in art history from the University of Maryland, where she completed her dissertation titled “Plastic Fantastic: American Sculpture in the Age of Synthetics.” Her research focuses on the history of materials in postwar and contemporary American art. O’Steen holds a BA in art history and philosophy from Colby College and an MA in art history from George Washington University.

Curlee R. Holton Curlee R. Holton, David C. Driskell Center, University of Maryland

Curlee R. Holton has been Director of the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland since 2012. The David M. and Linda Roth Professor of Art, emeritus, at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, Holton is a printmaker and painter whose work has been exhibited professionally for over forty years. His exhibitions have included prestigious national and international venues. His work is in many private and public collections. As part of his research and study as an artist-scholar, Holton has lectured on printmaking and African American art history throughout the United States and abroad. Holton earned his MFA with honors from Kent State University and his BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Fine Arts in drawing and printmaking. He was the founding director of the Experimental Printmaking Institute at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania where he also taught. Holton's awards include the Anyone Can Fly Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, Honorary Doctorate, Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (NYC) and the LINNY Artist of the Year Award.


Session V - Digital Epistemologies (watch full session) 

Kay Wells Kay Wells, University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee
“Inventing Digital Humanities through the Index of American Design”
Abstract | (watch)

Kay Wells is an associate professor of American art and architecture at the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee, where her research focuses on decorative art and design history. Her talk at the AHAA symposium is part of her new book project "Uncanny Revivals: Designing Early America during the Rise of Fascism," which examines the uncanny aesthetics and nationalist politics of colonial revival design in the 1930s and 1940s. Wells is also the author of Weaving Modernism: Postwar Tapestry between Paris and New York (Yale Univ. Press, 2019).

Laura Smith Laura Smith, Michigan State University
“Relational Landscapes: Teaching Chaco Canyon with Immersive Technology”
Abstract | (watch)

Laura Smith is an associate professor of art history and visual culture at Michigan State University with specializations in North American arts, Indigenous North American arts, and the history of photography. She is the author of Horace Poolaw, Photographer of American Indian Modernity (Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2016).

Karen Mary Davalos Karen Mary Davalos, University of Minnesota
“Decolonizing American Art History through Digital Humanities” - co-presenter
Abstract | (watch)

Karen Mary Davalos (professor of Chicano and Latino Studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) is a leading scholar of Chicana/o/x art, with four books on the subject: Exhibiting Mestizaje (UNM Press, 2001); The Mexican Museum of San Francisco Papers, 1971--2006 (UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press, 2010), the Silver Prize winner of the International Latino Book Award for Best Reference Book in English; and a prize-winning monograph on Yolanda M. López (UMN Press, 2008). Her latest book Chicana/o Remix: Art and Errata since the Sixties (NYU Press, 2017) exposes and resolves untenable methods in art history. With Constance Cortez, she launched the initiative Rhizomes of Mexican American Art since 1848, and its first project is a digital tool linking information from libraries, archives, and museums. She serves on the Board of Directors of Self Help Graphics & Art, the oldest Chicana/o/x-Latinx arts organization in Southern California.


Constance Cortez Constance Cortez, University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley
“Decolonizing American Art History through Digital Humanities” - co-presenter
Abstract | (watch)

Dr. Constance Cortez is a professor at the School of Art at the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, where she teaches in art history. She has published and taught in three fields: Precolumbian, Colonial art of Mexico, and contemporary Chicanx art. She also is a member of the editorial board for The Art Bulletin, a long-established periodical published by the College Art Association. She co-directs Rhizomes: Mexican American Art since 1848, a collaboration between UTRGV and the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota. Rhizomes is an upcoming internet platform that will link and make accessible Chicano art from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States. She is currently working with Ray Hernandez-Duran (UNM) on an article for an exhibition on New Mexican Chicanx art during the 1960s and '70s.


Melanee Harvey Melanee Harvey, Howard University

Melanee C. Harvey is an assistant professor of art history in the Department of Art at Howard University. She earned a BA from Spelman College and pursued graduate study at Boston University where she received her MA and PhD in American art and architectural history. In addition to serving as coordinator of the art history area of study, she has served as programming chair for the James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art and Art of the African Diaspora at Howard University since 2016. She has published on architectural iconography in African American art, Black Arts Movement artists, and ecowomanist art practices. During the 2020--2021 academic year, Melanee was in residence as the Paul Mellon Guest Scholar at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. She is currently writing her first book, entitled "Patterns of Permanence: African Methodist Episcopal Architecture and Visual Culture."


Friday, October 15, 2021


Session VI - Iconographies of Ethnicity (watch full session)

Patricia Johnston Patricia Johnston, College of the Holy Cross
“‘I’ is for ‘Italian’: Francis W. Edmonds and the Image Peddler in Nineteenth-Century American Visual Culture”
Abstract | (watch)

Patricia Johnston, the Rev. J. Gerard Mears, S.J., Chair in Fine Arts at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester MA, is the author of Real Fantasies: Edward Steichen’s Advertising Photography (1997), which won three book awards for its study of the relationship between fine and commercial photography. She is the editor of Seeing High and Low: Representing Social Conflict in American Visual Culture (2006), which examines how concepts of high and low art changed from the 18th to the 20th centuries; and Global Trade and Visual Arts in Federal New England (2014). In 2016--17, she was the Terra Foundation Senior Fellow in American Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She has held prior research fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is presently writing a book titled "Global Aesthetics: The Visual Culture of Colonial Salem, Massachusetts."

Erika Pazian Erika Pazian, Central Washington University
“In the In-Between: Las Poblanas and the Gendered Occupation of Space in Nineteenth-Century North America”
Abstract | (watch)

Erika Pazian is an assistant professor in the Department of Art + Design at Central Washington University. Pazian holds a PhD in Art History from The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her research examines images of contested spaces created in Mexico and the United States in the midst of the U.S.-Mexican War (1846-48). Her work has been supported by fellowships at the Library of Congress, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and the American Antiquarian Society.


Colleen Stockmann Colleen Stockmann, Gustavus Adolphus College
“Weeds and Wildflowers: Drawing Plant Politics in New York, 1850--1870”
Abstract | (watch)

Colleen Stockmann is an historian of art and material culture of the United States and the Atlantic world with a focus on art praxis and ecocriticism. Stockmann has a PhD and MA from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in art history and holds a BA in studio art from Macalester College. As an assistant professor of art history at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, Stockmann teaches a range of courses including a networked global history of pigments and a history of data visualization in print culture.


Grace Yasumura Grace Yasumura, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Grace Yasumura is the inaugural Luce Foundation Curatorial fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where she supports the development of an exhibition that considers the intertwined histories of race and American sculpture. She is also the project manager for Contemporary Monuments to the Slave Past, a digital archive founded by Dr. Renée Ater, which investigates how we visualize, interpret, and engage the slave past through contemporary monuments created for public spaces. She earned her PhD in art history and archaeology from the University of Maryland in 2019. Her dissertation examined the entangled histories of race, labor, and citizenship in New Deal post office murals. She also holds a BA in Peace and Justice Studies from Wellesley College and an MA in art history from New York University.


Session VII - Iconoclasm in North America 

Wendy Bellion Wendy Bellion, University of Delaware

Wendy Bellion is a professor of art history and Sewell Biggs Chair in American Art History at the University of Delaware and Director of the Center for Material Culture Studies. Her research and teaching focuses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art and material culture in North America and the Atlantic World. Her publications include the books Iconoclasm in New York: Revolution to Reenactment (2019) and Citizen Spectator: Art, Illusion, and Visual Perception in Early National America (2011), which was awarded the Charles Eldredge Prize by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She is currently co-editing a volume with Kristel Smentek on eighteenth-century material culture studies for Bloomsbury Academic and researching a new monograph, "Pictures Onstage," about art and theater in the early United States.

Jennifer Van Horn Jennifer Van Horn, University of Delaware

Jennifer Van Horn holds a joint appointment as associate professor in art history and history at the University of Delaware where she teaches courses in American art, material culture, and museum studies. She is the author of The Power of Objects in Eighteenth-Century British America (2017) and Portraits of Resistance: Activating Art during Slavery (Yale Univ. Press, forthcoming 2022). A piece of this project, published in The Art Bulletin, was awarded the National Portrait Gallery’s inaugural Director’s Essay Prize (2019). Her research has been supported by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Winterthur Museum and Library.


Dana Byrd Dana Byrd, Bowdoin College

Dana E. Byrd is a scholar of American art and material culture and an assistant professor of art history at Bowdoin College. Supported by the Ford, Mellon and Wyeth Foundations, her research engages with questions of place and the role of art and artifacts in everyday life. Most recently, she was the co-curator with Frank H. Goodyear of a traveling exhibition and catalog, Winslow Homer and the Camera: Photography and the Art of Painting. She is currently at work on a book manuscript, "Reconstructions: Freedom on the South Carolina Sea Island Plantation, 1861--1877," which uses art and artifacts to examine the landscape of the transformed Reconstruction-Era plantation.

Ellery Foutch Ellery Foutch, Middlebury College

Ellery Foutch is an assistant professor in the American studies department at Middlebury College (Vermont), where she teaches classes on the art and material culture of the United States. After earning her PhD in the history of art from the University of Pennsylvania, she held postdoctoral teaching fellowships at the University of Wisconsin--Madison and The Courtauld Institute of Art (London). She completed her MA at the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art and her BA at Wellesley College. She has published articles on patents for portable magic lanterns as illuminated, wearable technologies (for Modernism/Modernity, 2016), nineteenth-century glass ballot boxes and political transparency (for Common-place, 2016), artists’ natural history collections (Flora/Fauna, 2017), and tableaux vivants (for Art History Pedagogy & Practice, 2017). Her collaborative project “The Sheldon Relic Chair 1884/2018” was awarded an honorable mention by the Library Company of Philadelphia’s Innovation Award.

Philippe Halbert Philippe Halbert, Yale University

A graduate of the College of William and Mary and the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, Philippe Halbert is a doctoral candidate in Yale University’s history of art department. His in-progress dissertation explores how creole identity, cultural mobility, and imperial intimacy in the French Atlantic world were alternately understood and complicated by way of self-fashioning and performative modes of consumption and representation. He is currently a Barra Dissertation Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s McNeil Center for Early American Studies.

J. M. Mancini J. M. Mancini, Maynooth University, Ireland

J. M. Mancini is a cultural historian. She is the author of the prize-winning monographs Art and War in the Pacific World: Making, Breaking and Taking from Anson’s Voyage to the Philippine-American War (California, 2018), and Pre-Modernism: Art-World Change and American Culture from the Civil War to the Armory Show (Princeton, 2005); and, with Keith Bresnahan, is the co-editor of Architecture and Armed Conflict: The Politics of Destruction (Routledge, 2015).

John Ott John Ott, Boston University/James Madison University

As the Ray and Margaret Horowitz Visiting Professor in American Art for 2021–22 at Boston University, John Ott has also been known to assume the identity of professor of art history at James Madison University and author of Manufacturing the Modern Patron in Victorian California: Cultural Philanthropy, Industrial Capital, and Social Authority (Ashgate, 2014) and (with Tim Cresswell) Muybridge and Mobility (California, 2022); Ott’s half of the volume examines the representation and social mobility of Black athletes in the Gilded Age. His current book project, "Mixed Media: The Visual Cultures of Racial Integration, 1931–1954," has received support from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Session VIII - Imperialism (watch full session

Maggie Cao Maggie Cao, University of North Carolina
“Oceanography and Imperialism in Homer's Gulf Stream
Abstract | (watch)

Maggie Cao is the David G. Frey Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a historian of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American art in a global context. Her research focuses on the history of globalization with particular interest in intersections of art with histories of technology, natural science, and economics. She is the author of The End of Landscape in Nineteenth-Century America (Univ. of California Press, 2018). She has also published on media theory, material culture, and ecocriticism. She is currently writing a book on American painting and overseas empire building in the nineteenth century.

Ellen Tani Ellen Tani, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art
“Enmeshed: Senga Nengudi's Performative Nylon Sculptures and Afro-Asian Ritual”
Abstract | (watch)

Informed by feminist, critical race, and disability theory, Tani's research and teaching focus on the relationship between form, alterity, and visibility in the history of modern and contemporary art. She is currently the 2020--2022 A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, D.C. Previously, she was an assistant curator at the ICA Boston (2018--20) and the A. W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (2015--18). Tani earned her PhD in art history in 2015 from Stanford University, where her research was supported by the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African and African American Studies at the University of Virginia. Her book project, supported by the Clark and the Getty Research Institute, is provisionally entitled "Black Conceptual Practice, 1975--1983," and her scholarship has appeared in Art Journal, American Quarterly, and Panorama.

Mallory Nanny Mallory Nanny, Florida State University
“An-My Lê’s Small Wars: Re-enacting Memories of an Ongoing War”
Abstract | (watch)

Mallory Nanny is a doctoral candidate at Florida State University. She is the recipient of the Luce/ACLS Ellen Holtzman Dissertation Fellowship in American Art for the 2020--21 academic year, and she looks forward to continuing her research in Vietnam with the support of the Penelope Mason Dissertation Award. Mallory specializes in contemporary American photography and Vietnamese American studies. Her dissertation examines how Vietnamese American and non-Vietnamese American women artists narrativize and memorialize the Vietnam War using photo-based media.

Leslie Ureña Leslie Ureña, National Portrait Gallery

Leslie Ureña is Curator of Photographs at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. She focuses on migration, transnational art practices, and photography as an agent of social change. Her exhibitions at the Portrait Gallery have included IDENTIFY: Lee Mingwei’s Sonic Blossom (2018, co-organized with Dorothy Moss), In Mid-Sentence (2019), One Life: Marian Anderson (2019), and Block by Block: Naming Washington (2021). In 2022 She will be the co-curator of Kinship; and, with Taína Caragol, of The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today.

Prior to the Portrait Gallery, Ureña worked at the National Gallery of Art, The Museum of Modern of Art, and the Dallas Museum of Art, among others. She has taught at the George Washington University, Taipei National University of the Arts, and National Taiwan Normal University, and her writing has appeared in,, ART iT, and the International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity, as well as in exhibition catalogues and edited volumes. Ureña received a BA from Yale University and an MA and a PhD from Northwestern University, all in art history.


Session IX - A Land Acknowledgement is Not Enough: Why Indigenous Art Must Guide a New American Art 
Abstract | (watch full session)

Mindy N. Besaw Mindy N. Besaw, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Mindy N. Besaw, PhD, Curator, American Art and Director of Fellowships and Research, has been curator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art since 2014 where she oversees the American art collection covering colonial times to the 1960s, and the Tyson Scholars of American Art fellowship program. Her projects and exhibitions include a 2018 renovation and reinstallation of the Early American art galleries; co-curator of Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices 1950s to Now (2018); co-curator of Cross-Pollination: Martin Johnson Heade, Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church and our Contemporary Moment, organized in association with Thomas Cole Historic Site and Olana State Historic Site; and co-curator of Companion Species, an exhibition organized in partnership with the Museum of Native American History, Bentonville. Besaw holds a PhD in American art history from the University of Kansas.

Ashley Holland (Cherokee Nation) Ashley Holland (Cherokee Nation), Art Bridges Foundation

Ashley Holland currently serves as the Associate Curator for the Art Bridges Foundation. She is the former Assistant Curator of Native Art at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis. Holland earned her doctorate in art history from the University of Oklahoma, Norman in 2021 with a focus on Indigenous identity, cultural memory, and issues of diaspora in Cherokee contemporary art. She received her MA in museum studies from Indiana University--Purdue University, Indianapolis and BA in art history and religious studies from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Holland is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and currently lives in Rogers, Arkansas.


Georgiana Uhlyarik Georgiana Uhlyarik, Art Gallery of Ontario

Georgiana Uhlyarik is the Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art, and co-lead of the Indigenous + Canadian Art Department at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada. Her recent collaborations include exhibitions and publications: Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak, the J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous + Canadian Art, Georgia O’Keeffe (Tate Modern), Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry (Jewish Museum, NY); Picturing the Americas: Landscape Painting from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic (Terra Foundation for American Art and Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo); Introducing Suzy Lake and The Passion of Kathleen Munn. Uhlyarik is currently an adjunct faculty member in art history departments at York University and University of Toronto, and research associate, Modern Literature & Culture, Ryerson University. Originally from Romania, she lives in Toronto with her twin sons.

Wanda Nanibush (Anishinaabe-kwe) Wanda Nanibush (Anishinaabe-kwe), Art Gallery of Ontario

Wanda Nanibush (Anishinaabe-kwe) is Curator, Indigenous Art, and co-lead of the Indigenous + Canadian Art Department at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada. Her curatorial projects include: Karoo Ashevak (AGO, 2019); Rebecca Belmore Facing the Monumental (AGO, 2018); JS McLean Centre for Indigenous and Canadian Art (2018); Rita Letendre: Fire & Light (AGO, 2017); Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971--1989 (AGO, 2016); Sovereign Acts II (Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, 2017); and the award winning KWE: The work of Rebecca Belmore (Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, 2014). Nanibush has held various curatorial and academic roles across Canada since 2001. In addition to independent curation, Nanibush held the post of Aboriginal Arts Officer at the Ontario Arts Council, Executive Director of ANDPVA and strategic planning for CCA. She holds an MA in visual studies from the University of Toronto, where she has also taught graduate courses. Nanibush has published widely in magazines, books, and journals, including the book Violence No More: The Rise of Indigenous Women.


Keynote -- "Speech and Silence" (watch)

Jennifer González Jennifer A. González, University of California, Santa Cruz

Jennifer A. González is a professor in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a faculty member of the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York. Her research explores the intersections of contemporary art, activism, critical race studies and U.S. history. She has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the American Association of University Women, and the American Council of Learned Societies. Her writings have appeared in a variety of journals including Diacritics, Camera Obscura, Bomb, Open Space, Art Journal, Aztlán the Journal of the Archives of American Art and in numerous exhibition catalogs including Jimmy Durham: At the Center of the World (2017). Her first book, Subject to Display: Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art (MIT Press, 2008), was a finalist for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award. Her second book focused on the MacArthur-award-winning artist Pepón Osorio (Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2013). She is the chief editor of Chicano and Chicana Art: A Critical Anthology (Duke Univ. Press, 2019).

Jordana Moore Saggese Jordana Moore Saggese, University of Maryland

Jordana Moore Saggese is an associate professor of American art and outgoing Editor-in-Chief of Art Journal. As an internationally recognized expert on the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, she has published two books on his life and work -- Reading Basquiat: Exploring Ambivalence in American Art (Univ. of California Press, 2014/ 2021) and The Basquiat Reader: Writings, Interviews and Critical Responses (Univ. of California Press, 2021). Her current book, Game On: Sports, Race, and Masculinity, maps the visual terrain of racial ideology in the United States, paying particular attention to the intersecting discourses of blackness, masculinity, and sport in the late nineteenth century. Game On will be published by Duke University Press.