Zarina, Bhimji, Yellow Patch (still from video, detail), 2011

Zarina, Bhimji, Yellow Patch (still from video, detail), 2011

ART HISTORY RESEARCH ColloquiUM

RethinkingArtHistoryPoster.jpg

The Art History Research Colloquium is a monthly forum for intellectual conversation amongst RISD faculty, staff, students, and invited guests. It provides an opportunity for members of the community to share their current work in progress, research interests, and approaches to pedagogy in an informal but collaborative environment.

Grouped around the theme of "Rethinking Art History," these presentations invite dialogues that provoke a reconsideration of what art and design look like from a twenty-first-century vantage point, and from a variety of perspectives. In a moment of disciplinary and global crossroads, new voices, methodologies, and histories are especially urgent. This series asks us to reconsider the assumptions that continue to circumscribe our thinking about art and design, and the limits that still demarcate the horizons of the field of art history. It emphasizes new or unacknowledged modes of looking, making, and being that may come into focus once those assumptions and those limits begin to be questioned.


© Ijlal Muzaffar

© Ijlal Muzaffar

MARCH 18, 2019
6:00 – 7:30 PM, PROV-WASH BLDG, ROOM 366

IJLAL MUZAFFAR

Theory and History of Art and Design, RISD

Settling Dreams, on Three Scales (The lahore biennale reader)

In this talk, I will look at what has been a blindspot in architectural histories of non-Western modernism: the meaning of land. Before a building is put up, a plan is drawn, what histories have shaped the meaning of land, from the scale of an empire to a silt particle floating in water? Does architectural understanding of scale and materiality have something critical to say about it? I will explore these questions with a story both global and personal that unfolds when the British colonial government began digging canals in the Sindh desert in India in 1898 to grow cotton. The small farmers settled in the new colonies (my family amongst them) were met, however, not with the promised water but with a rebellion from the followers of Sufi saints that occupied the land and considered it holy. Who’s meaning does the land hold, the imperial bureaucrat defending the empire’s economy, the settler holding a British quail-hunting rifle at the approaching sound of rebel horsemen at night, or the Scottish engineer trying to keep the silt particles miraculously afloat in the new canals?

Ijlal Muzaffar is an Associate Professor of Modern Architectural History at the Rhode Island School of Design. He received his PhD from MIT in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art. He also holds a Master of Architecture from Princeton University and a BA in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Punjab. His work has appeared in edited volumes, biennale catalogues, and peer reviewed journals like Grey room, Future Anterior, and Aggregate, an architectural history research collaborative and publishing platform of which he is also a founding member. He is currently working on two book projects. The first, titled The Periphery Within: Modern Architecture and the Making of the Third World, looks at how modern architects and planners played a critical role in shaping the discourse on Third World development and its associated structures of power after the Second World War. The second book, called Settling Dreams, charts the changing meaning of land as British colonial government laid out new canals in the Sindh desert (now in Pakistan) in1898 and transplanted small farmers (his family among them) from faraway lands to grow cotton for Manchester mills.

Pre-circulated paper please email thad@risd.edu to receive a copy or RSVP here and we will email you a copy.
Light refreshments will be served.


Felix Gonzalez-Torres,  Untitled  ( Lover Boys ), 1991 Installation view at Galerie Xavier Hufkens, Brussels

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (Lover Boys), 1991
Installation view at Galerie Xavier Hufkens, Brussels

APRIL 15, 2019
6:00 – 7:30 PM, PROV-WASH BLDG, ROOM 366

ELIZABETH MAYNARD
Theory and History of Art and Design, RISD

WWFGTD? On Generosity as Pedagogy, Modeled in the sculpture of felix gonzalez-Torres

This piece is a consideration of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ work as a potential pedagogical model. The focus of my recent writing and teaching practices have been how to engage in a supportive dynamic that creates space for embodied intelligence. Teaching at a notoriously demanding art school prompts reflection on the divisive and dehumanizing tendencies of academic institutions. I turn to the gifting energetics of Felix Gonzalez-Torres (FGT), whose work is a favorite among my students. The softness of FGT’s minimalism, at once rigorous and generous, haunted by presence and absence, joy and melancholy, has served as a physical model of what it means to teach from a place of empathetic connection with subject matter and students. My recent turn towards somatic pedagogy is beautifully figured in FGT’s stacks and piles that both implicate and elide the body without ever denying its centrality: an elegant metaphor for intellectual labor as an embodied experience. Teaching is a practice that requires laying a foundation with equal parts hope and discipline, and then relinquishing control. As I find myself largely without a road map on this path for engaging my students, subject matter, and self, I often ask what would FGT do?

Liz Maynard works as an art historian, yoga teacher, and body worker in Providence, Rhode Island. She teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design and Rhode Island College where she focuses on modern and contemporary art works oriented around embodied experience and the construction and deconstruction of subjectivities. Her prime methodology as a writer and teacher is to locate the threads of empathetic connections in both discourse and experiential practice that allow for a deeper understanding of the arts and each other.

Light refreshments will be served.


Installation view of Mickalene Thomas’s  Tableau  with various artworks. © Photo: Yves Jeffcoat

Installation view of Mickalene Thomas’s Tableau with various artworks.
© Photo: Yves Jeffcoat

MAY 6, 2019
6:00 – 7:30 PM, PROV-WASH BLDG, ROOM 366

ERIC ANDERSON
Theory and History of Art and Design, RISD

Mickalene Thomas’s Cozy Corners

My paper considers home decoration as a topic situated within the varied terrain of vernacular material culture, design practice, and artistic representation. As a starting point, I explore the domestic interiors portrayed by Mickalene Thomas in recent paintings, collages, photographs, and installations. Thomas collects and arranges decorative furnishings in her studio and in galleries, reviving a nineteenth-century artistic practice for twenty-first century home–makeover culture. Her collecting and display, in turn, provide the starting point for the production of a prolific body of domestic imagery. Thomas’s pictures of interiors follow a recognizable template with colorful, patterned, textile-laden surfaces that frame intimately enclosed spaces and languidly posed sitters. These contemporary cozy corners suggest a cult of hyper-adorned domesticity steeped in historical motifs and ideological meanings. Yet the exaggerated eclecticism and unorthodox materials (rhinestones, wood paneling, wax-print fabrics) and the assertive presence of the black, queer women who inhabit Thomas’s interiors indicate an intention to critically reimagine old motifs for new subjectivities.

To better understand Thomas’s critical revisions of decoration and domesticity, I make comparisons to past imagery from nineteenth-century painting and photography, 1950s modernist architecture, and a 1970s decorating manual. Thomas’s appropriation of historical motifs as well as her engagement with historical practices of the studio and the gallery draw attention to persistent, often hidden ways that home décor has been used to mark out boundaries of identity and belonging. Inspired by literary scholar Susan Fraiman’s notion of “extreme domesticity”—homemaking as a radical assertion of agency from positions of marginalization—I emphasize ways that Thomas’s exuberant décor subverts conventional definitions of gender, sexuality, and race in the home.

Eric Anderson studies and teaches the history of modern design. He has written on topics including exhibitions, color theory, Sigmund Freud’s office and the mass-marketing of furniture. Articles and reviews have appeared in the journals West 86th, Centropa, Journal of Design History and Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide and in books including Design Dialogue: Jews, Culture and Viennese Modernism (Vienna, 2018), Making Home: The Arts and Crafts Movement and the Reform of Everyday Life (New Haven, 2018), Klimt und der Ringstrasse (Vienna, 2015) and Performance, Fashion, and the Modern Interior (Oxford, 2011). He has lectured recently in China, Greece and the UK and spent a semester as a Fulbright Fellow at the Sigmund Freud Museum and University of Applied Arts in Vienna.

Pre-circulated paper please email thad@risd.edu to receive a copy or RSVP here and we will email you a copy.
Light refreshments will be served.


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