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Presenters & Abstracts

Ewa Borkowska teaches in the Department of English at the University of Silesia in Poland. She has presented at conferences throughout Europe on literature, arts and world cultures and has also lectured in the United States. She is the author of several books; her most recent publication is titled At the Threshold of Mystery: Poetic Encounters with Other(ness) (Peter Lang, Germany, 2005).

Nation in the making vs. nation of experience. Comparing Asian influences in American and Polish artworks "painted with thread"

The paper will discuss American and Polish artworks in the 18th/19th centuries as inspired by Asian influences while trading with the East and Europe. Numerous pieces of needle and other fiber arts retained traces of Eastern influences, displayed in the 18th c. fashion and clothing. When America traded with China, Poland had good connections with the Far East. I will show how cross-cultural influences are revealed in American needlework art and other fiber arts and how Polish clothes designs were inspired by Oriental motifs. The trade between Poland and the Orient and America and the Pacific regions narrowed distances between cultures.

Susan Branson, Associate Professor of History at Syracuse University, is the author of These Fiery Frenchified Dames: Politics and Culture in Early National Philadelphia (2001) and Dangerous to Know: Women, Class and Crime in the Early Republic (2008). She is currently researching science, material culture, and consumption in early America.

"Egyptomania: American fashion and architecture in transatlantic context,

Long before the discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922, Americans embraced Egyptian-inspired design elements in fashion, furniture and architecture. Politics, war and scientific exploration in the 1790s promoted an interest in ancient Egypt. American resumption of trade, travel, and direct communication with Britain in 1815 enabled Americans to benefit from Europe's fascination with all things Egyptian. American travelers' accounts fostered interest in architectural designs and commodities such as Wedgewood's Egyptian ware. By the 1840s the United States boasted a number of Egyptian revival-style public buildings, most notably the New York City prison and court complex known as The Tombs.

Florina H. Capistrano-Baker received the Ph.D. from the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, New York City. She was formerly the director of the Ayala Museum (Philippines) and is currently Ayala's consulting director of international exhibitions based in New York.

"The Manila-Salem Trade"

The Spanish-controlled Manila-Acapulco galleon trade from 1565-1815 is well known by scholars of Spanish colonialism. In contrast, the lucrative trade between Manila and Salem remains unexplored although American ships continued to ply the Manila-Salem route after the galleon trade had ceased. By the 1820s, at least two major American companies were entrenched in Manila with hemp (abaca) as the main staple of trade. This paper examines art produced for export during this period – letras y figuras (watercolors of merchants' names with intertwined human figures); tipos del pais (country types and costumes); and Philippine whitework like those portrayed in the watercolors.

Karina Corrigan, the H.A. Crosby Forbes Curator of Asian Export Art at the Peabody Essex Museum, has worked with the museum's notable collections for fourteen years. She earned a BA in Art History and Medieval/Renaissance Studies at Wellesley College, an MS in Historic Preservation at University of Pennsylvania and an MA from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. At PEM, she has curated seven exhibitions that address the material culture of global connections, most recently "Fish, Silk, Tea, Bamboo - Cultivating an Image of China."

"Chinese Export Silks in Colonial and Federal North America"

Writing in 1744, Englishman James Patterson asserted that "China is called the Silken Kingdom, for in one province of China there seems to be silk sufficient for all the World." Affluent Americans in the colonial and Federal periods displayed their wealth, and perhaps also their knowledge of the world, with fashionable garments and accessories, interior decor, and upholstery made with Chinese silk. This talk explores the role of Chinese silk in America during the 18th and early 19th century through surviving Chinese silks with early American provenances, archival sources, and literary references to this sought-after Chinese luxury. Visual references, such as Chinese export watercolors that illustrated the complex and labor-intensive phases of silk production, further shaped Americans' impressions of the "Silken Kingdom."

Nancy Davis is a curator at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History in the Division of Home and Community Life. She is Associate Professorial Lecturer of American Studies and American material culture at George Washington University. Her research specialty is Asian influence on American culture.

Taking to the Stage: Selling Chinese Goods in early 19th century America

Powerful visual imagery of exotic Asian goods secured sales in the early 19th century American marketplace. Contemporary accounts note that the cargos of Captain Benjamin Obear and China trade merchants Frederick and Nathaniel Carnes in the early 1830s far exceeded in quantity and type any previous importations of household and decorative arts goods from China. They took extreme measures to hawk their vast array of Chinese objects when in 1834 they brought a sensational import to America in the person of a young Chinese woman named Afong Moy who was accompanied from Canton aboard the ship Washington by Obear's wife Augusta as chaperon. With bound feet and exotic dress, Afong Moy was ensconced in a New York City townhouse surrounded by Chinese lanterns, fabrics, porcelains, and other goods. Advertisements in the 1834 New York papers encouraged the general public to view Afong Moy—and the imported Chinese articles—for a fee.

The paper will explore the range of these export goods, their intended market, and the unusual method of promoting them through Afong Moy's performances in New York and more than fifteen other American cities in the 1830's. Visualization of these goods and witnessing Moy's performance in more remote areas of the country likely affected early 19th century views of the "Orient," China, and Chinese women. Newspaper accounts across the country describe both the goods and the reactions to her presence. Though other Chinese toured the country in the later 19th century, Moy was the first to take the stage to promote her country's material and artistic culture.

Jonathan Eacott is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Riverside, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, and a Research Fellow at the Phillips Library. He is currently completing his first book, Selling Empire: India Goods in the Making of Britain and America, 1690-1830.

Trading Empires: India and Britain in the Aesthetics of Early American Political Economy

Between 1793 and 1823 American merchants gained and lost a massive cotton cloth trade with Calcutta. Cotton calicoes and muslins did not become particularly more or less popular in the Early Republic. Instead, Britain's wars with France and the rise of British cotton cloth production respectively created and took away the impetus for direct American trade in Indian cottons. In many ways, the United States remained within a British imperial orbit. Yet American merchants did act to seize the brief opening presented to them in the India trade, generating profits for themselves and Britons, and stimulating pride in the young Republic's newfound global reach. American merchants trading with India also helped to foster a new aesthetic of American political economy in paintings, advertisements, and prints that both borrowed and diverged from that of the empire many of their families had struggled to leave.

Caroline Frank is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of American Civilization at Brown University. She is the author of Objectifying China, Imagining America: Chinese Commodities in Early America (University of Chicago Press, 2011), and is currently a board member of the New England American Studies Association.

"The Art of Tea, Revolution, and an American East Indies Trade"

Chinese commodities circulated widely the American colonies, accompanied by strong attitudes toward an imaginary place called the East Indies. The East Indies trades, in all its legal and illegal forms, as well prejudicial attitudes, played a role in the American Revolution and in important economic choices made in the first decades of the Early Republic.  This paper analyzes striking visual evidence from the 18th century for this argument, focusing specifically on the consumption of tea and china.  Americans were driven to master an East Indies trade themselves, or feared they would be consumed by it, left to the tyrannical whim of those who controlled the trade.

Barbara Groseclose: Professor of art history at Ohio State University, Barbara Groseclose's most recent book is her co-edited Internationalizing the History of American Art: Views (PSU Press, 2009). She will shortly return to Moscow's Russian State University for the Humanities for the second time as a guest teacher/lecturer for the Center for Russian-American Studies and she has also served as a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies in Florence (2001) and in Utrecht (1994) as well as a Visiting Research Fellow, Rothermere American Institute, Oxford University (2007).

"Turquerie: material culture and cultural material in early American art history"

"Turquerie" is employed historically both to characterize goods that were created in the Ottoman empire (or made elsewhere to look like a Turkish product) and exported to Europe and to the North American colonies as well as to designate fashion. In this discussion, I will cite the manner in which typical Turkish export (textile) and typical Turkish fashion (clothing) might be conjoined visually in an eighteenth-century usage of this omnibus term.

Elizabeth Hutchinson is associate professor of North American art history at Barnard College/Columbia University.  The author of The Indian Craze: Primitivism, Modernism and Transculturation in American Art, 1890-1915 (Duke University Press, 2009), she is currently working on a book about cultural identity and landscape representation along the Pacific Coast in the 19th Century.

"Osceola's Calicoes"

When he sat for the painter George Catlin, the imprisoned Seminole chief Osceola took pains to wear his finest regalia.  Catlin's Indian Gallery is credited with establishing the buckskin- and eagle feather-bedecked Plains warrior as the prototypical image of the American Indian and thus positing an essential racial difference between Natives and Europeans, but he also painted Southeastern leaders whose attire differed considerably.  My paper will look at how both the calico fabric shown in Osceola's portrait and its styling implicate Southeastern Natives in the global trade of the early American republic and the politics of empire that accompanied it.

David Jaffee teaches American Material Culture at the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, where he is also Head of New Media Research.  He is the author of A New Nation of Goods: The Material Culture of Early America (University of Pennsylvania, 2010).

"West from New England:  Geographic Information and Asia in the Early Republic"

Americans in the Early Republic were quite fascinated with exploring the world beyond their shores in word and image.  A leading source of information was the active community of cartographers in the New Nation.  They busily promoted the bounds of the new nation in their cartographic products such as atlases, geographic schoolbooks, maps, and globes.  But they also provided their fellow citizens with important information about the peoples and the commodities that might lie across the Atlantic and the Pacific.  This talk will explore what some of those cartographic products and their discussions of Asia in particular might be.

Bruce MacLaren is the Chinese Art specialist at the New York galleries of the international auction house Bonhams. Prior to joining Bonhams he was a curator of Chinese art at the Peabody Essex Museum from 2001-2009.

To Bring China to America -- van Braam's Albums of China, 1790-1795

In the summer of 1796 Andreas Everardus van Braam Houckgeest (1739-1801), a naturalized American citizen and second in command of the 1794-1795 Dutch Embassy to Beijing, arrived in Philadelphia with a trove of Chinese material assembled during his years abroad. Among his collection were 368 paintings created by two Chinese artists on the commission of van Braam. Displayed publicly in Philadelphia and later in his home--dubbed "China's Retreat"--the images were arguably the first large group of images of China by Chinese artists exhibited in the United States. Following an analysis of the paintings and their remarkable journey, this paper will examine their critical reception on the early American stage.

Mary Malloy teaches Maritime Studies in the "Sea Semester" program in Woods Hole, MA, and Museum Studies at Harvard University. She has a Ph.D. from Brown University. Mary worked for several years at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, and is currently a Research Associate at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard. She is the author of five books, including Souvenirs of the Fur Trade: Northwest Coast Indian Art and Artifacts Collected by American Mariners (Harvard, 2000).

Sailor Collections: Souvenirs of an Expanding World

The expansion of global trade in the years following the American Revolution coincided with the development of a number of museums in coastal communities, where collections made by local mariners documented their encounters with people in distant ports of call. Though the institutions that dedicated space and attention to a "cabinet of curiosities" were varied in their missions, they had surprisingly similar collections. Mary Malloy will introduce early collections from Asia and the Pacific, including those at Salem's East India Marine Society (now the Peabody Essex Museum), the oldest institution to retain its original collection.

JoAnne Mancini teaches American and world history at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. She is the author of Pre-Modernism: Art-World Change and American Culture from the Civil War to the Armory Show (Princeton University Press, 2005), winner of the 2008 Charles C. Eldredge Prize. Her most recent article, "Pedro Cambón's Asian Objects: A Transpacific Approach to Alta California," will appear in American Art in 2011. Her current research includes a book to be entitled "Asian Objects: Art and War in the Pacific World," and a collection, edited with Terence Dooley, on "The Politics of Architectural Destruction."

The Insurgency Strikes Back

Just as the Early Republic was an important period for U.S. participation in global trade, so too did independence bring the United States into another global sphere that was an important vector for the production, circulation, alteration, reproduction, and destruction of visual and material culture: the complex arena of inter-polity relations. Indeed even the War of Independence, in which the imperial powers France and Spain joined the insurgent American colonists against their joint rival Britain, was itself a global war contested in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the west coast of Africa, and the Bay of Bengal—and which provided the occasion for the production of works with a global scope such as Nicolas Ponce and François Godefroy's lavishly engraved RECUEIL D'ESTAMPES REPRESENTANT LES DEFFERENTS EVENEMENS [sic] de la Guerre qui a procuré l'indépendance aux Etats Unis de l'Amérique (Paris, ca. 1784).

My paper will explore how the analysis of visual and material culture can illuminate U.S. participation in the contested sphere of global geopolitics from the Revolution throughout the nineteenth century. Paying particular attention to the fraught relationship between the United States and its former co-belligerent Spain, it will trace the transformation of the United States from an eighteenth-century revolutionary insurgency to a nineteenth-century empire with global ambitions in the Caribbean and Asia.

Alan Wallach is Ralph H. Wark Professor of Art and Art History and Professor of American Studies at the College of William and Mary.  He has written extensively on nineteenth century American landscape painting and the history of art institutions in the United States.

"American Exceptionalism, American Imperialism, and the History of American Art from the Early Nineteenth to the Early Twenty-first Century"

Three cultural themes are central to the culture of the United States: panopticism or the imperial gaze; the civilized center and the civilizing mission; and the pastoral homeland fantasy. None of these themes is exclusive to U.S. culture; each, however, can be related to an aspect of exceptionalist ideology.

In this paper I argue that the three themes I've outlined pervade the history of American art.  I also suggest that students of the history of American art who are now replacing discredited exceptionalist paradigms with a new focus on the internationalism of American art consider the role American art has played within the culture of U.S. imperialism.  Such a move would help to align the study of American art with recent developments within the field of American Studies.

Winnie Wong is a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows. Her research addresses transnational issues in consumer culture, intellectual property law and art, with an emphasis on modern and contemporary China. She recently received her PhD from MIT in the History and Theory of Art. Her dissertation, entitled After the Copy, is a study of Shenzhen's Dafen Village, the world's largest production center for handmade oil paintings in the post-Mao era, and an emerging site of creative production for global conceptualist artists.

"The Great Painting Factory: Consuming Painting Production in the Canton Trade"

This paper sets out the Euro-American cultural imaginary of the "Great Painting Factory" and its centrality in the consumption of Chinese paintings produced during the Canton Trade. It explores how early nineteenth-century consumers and traders located Chinese painting production within a certain conception of the fine and mechanical arts, and reassesses Charles-Hubert Lavollée's (b. 1823) influential account of the studio of Lam Qua (b.1801-02). It argues that Canton export paintings served its buyers as a locus of cross-cultural translation, but also, as empirical evidence of cultural differences themselves, differences crucial to an emerging American consumer culture of originality and the copy.


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