Q&A: Kate Egner Gruber, Curator of “Tenacity: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia”

kateheadshotToday at The Junto, Philippe Halbert interviews Katherine Egner Gruber, who is Special Exhibition Curator at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a state agency that operates two living history museums in Virginia. This Q&A focuses on her most recent exhibition, Tenacity: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia, which opened at Jamestown Settlement in November of 2018 and runs through January of 2020. She was also responsible for content oversight of the Yorktown American Revolution Museum‘s award-winning introductory film, Liberty Fever, and contributed to the development of new galleries that opened there in 2015. Kate earned a bachelor’s degree in historic preservation and classical humanities from the University of Mary Washington and a master’s degree in American history from the College of William and Mary. Continue reading

CFP: The Fifteenth Annual Yale University American Art Graduate Student Symposium

 

Encounters, Entanglements, and Exchanges
Fifteenth Annual Yale American Art History Graduate Student Symposium
Yale University, New Haven, 6 April 2019
Proposals due by 1 February 2019

Points of encounter can occur across time and space. In colonial Mexico, blue and white earthenware vessels made in the city of Puebla responded to East Asian hard-paste porcelain. At the same time, ceramic manufacturers in China adapted designs that catered to pan-American tastes, and both John Bartlam’s South Carolina pottery and the American China Manufactory in Philadelphia produced their own soft-paste porcelain wares on the eve of the American Revolution. More recently, Carrie Mae Weems’s The Hampton Project reexamined a nineteenth-century vocational school that served as a cultural crossroads for formerly enslaved African Americans, American Indians, and white Americans to raise pressing questions of race, imperialism, and nationalism in the twenty-first century. These points of convergence between individuals, groups, places, and objects often instigate shifts in creative production with lasting and global resonances. The interaction of disparate cultures offers a rich nexus for artistic creation. Yet such encounters are also inseparable from the shifting dynamics of power that operate along gendered, racial, economic, and political lines. What can exchanges and entanglements reveal about the nature of encounter? How do encounters shape exchanges? In what ways do exchanges propagate new encounters?

The Fifteenth Annual Yale University American Art Graduate Student Symposium invites papers that interrogate the dialectical relationship between encounter and exchange and explore the legacies of cultural intersection. We invite submissions that address art across North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean, that engage a range of critical perspectives, and that speak to a variety of time periods and artistic practices.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
• Micro-histories that address a specific instance of encounter
• Global encounters with the notion of ‘Americanness’
• Collaborations that problematize narratives of ‘influence’ across social, cultural, or political hierarchies
• Impact of religious proselytization and conversion in the arts
• Gift exchange, diplomacy, and trade
• Appropriation, fetishism, hybridity, and mimicry
• Contact zones, borderlands, intersectionality, and peripheries
• Power dynamics within systems of colonialism, racism, homophobia, or sexism
• Immigration, migrants, and refugees
• Authorship and ownership
• Tourism and travel narratives
• Activism, coalition building, and the arts
• Networks created via technology, globalization, and media

Interested participants are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 350 words along with a CV to americanist.symposium@gmail.com by 1 February 2019. Accepted participants will be notified in mid-February. Accommodations will be provided for all graduate student speakers in New Haven, Connecticut.

Guest Post: Fashion from Japan and France: Nightgowns in Colonial Brazil

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Jean-Baptiste Debret, “Les dèlassemens d’une aprés diner,” from Voyage Pittoresque et Historique au Brésil, vol. 2 (Paris: Firmin Didot Frerès, 1835)

Today’s guest post comes from Rachel Zimmerman (Ph.D., University of Delaware), Assistant Professor of Art History at Colorado State University-Pueblo. She has been studying the art and architecture of the Brazilian town of Minas Gerais since her first trip to the region in 2006. She began examining consumption in colonial Brazil for her dissertation, “Global Luxuries at Home: The Material Possessions of an Elite Family in Eighteenth-Century Minas Gerais, Brazil,” and is continuing research for a book project on elite material culture in the city of Mariana. Follow her work here.

According to the early nineteenth-century English merchant John Luccock, it was customary for Brazilian men to discard stiff outer layers when at home and wear only a cotton shirt, often unbuttoned, knee-length breeches, and clogs.[1] Brazilian standards of decorum permitted informal dress in domestic settings, even when receiving guests. Examination of colonial-era probate inventories from Minas Gerais, the gold mining district, reveals that a small number of educated elite men transformed their state of undress from ordinary to stylish with the addition of a nightgown. Continue reading

In Touch with the Dutch, or, Fashioning Colonial New York’s Merchant Elite

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Man’s Gown. English. ca. 1700-1720. Gold silk damask (likely Chinese; ca. 1690-1720); lining: red brocaded silk (likely Persian; ca. 1700-1720); collar and cuffs: red silk damask (English; ca. 1700-1720); wool padding. Cora Ginsburg LLC.

Today’s #ColonialCouture post is by Cynthia Kok, a doctoral student in art history at Yale University. She is interested in trade and craftsmanship under European colonial governance and imitative material practices inspired by encounters with foreign cultures.

“I like my money right where I can see it…hanging in my closet.” –Carrie Bradshaw

Centuries before New York became known as a fashion capital— and Carrie Bradshaw emerged as a style icon— the city’s colonial-era merchants anticipated the words of Sex and the City’s lead character by investing newly earned wealth in clothing made from luxurious fabrics. And, like today’s Rich Kids of Instagram, they documented their exclusive material success through portraiture. Painted at the turn of the eighteenth century, that of Isaac de Peyster (1662-1728), the son of an affluent Dutch-American mercantile family, presented both his physical features and a luxurious silk robe patterned with rocks and spindly vegetation. The artist captured the soft, luminous sheen of the gold silk and hinted at the robe’s lining with a flash of red along an upturned sleeve. Continue reading

Creole Comforts and French Connections: A Case Study in Caribbean Dress

Today’s #ColonialCouture post is by Philippe Halbert. Follow him @plbhalbert.

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“Vêtement dit à la creole,” Galerie des modes et costumes français, Charles Emmanuel Patas after Pierre Thomas Leclerc, 1779, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

In 1779, a fashion plate depicting a woman’s garment “in the creole style” was published in Paris. Consisting of a lightweight muslin gown with wrist-length sleeves, the dress was “in the style of a chemise,” the basic female undergarment of the period.[1] Worn over a petticoat, the gown was to be pinned at the bust and loosely closed with a sash or belt. In addition to enumerating its various components, which included a separate caraco jacket, the engraving’s caption remarked that the fantastic ensemble was “of the sort worn by our French Ladies in America.” At the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, French colonial possessions in the Americas were largely confined to the Caribbean Basin, a region where interactions between people of indigenous, European, and African descent brought about innovations in everything from architecture to foodways. Although the inhabitants of French-controlled islands like Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Saint-Domingue, or Haiti, were not beyond the reach of Parisian novelty, the heat and humidity necessitated certain sartorial adaptations. Continue reading

Frogs and Cats, or, Access and Privilege

I have never heard anything like those frogs. I was crunching along the gravel walkway from Historic Jamestowne back to the bus after the final reception of the Omohundro Institute conference in June. As I walked through the woods, the James River at my back, the calls of frogs and insects hammered at the air, drowning out the chatter of other attendees and the crunch of my own footsteps.

An hour before, I had gazed down into the archaeological dig of a kitchen site, in which researchers had discovered what they argue are cannibalized human remains in 2012. All the hairs on my neck stood up. Continue reading

“A curious font of porphyry”

Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 3.29.59 AMWorking on material culture, my research has taken me to some interesting, if unexpected places. Last summer, it involved waiting outside Saint John’s Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, founded in 1732 as the Anglican Queen’s Chapel. I quickly ran inside to snap some pictures of a baptismal font between back-to-back Sunday services. The Saint John’s font is an impressive fixture, carved from marble in a Continental European baroque style. As a ritual object used in the sacrament of baptism, the font is hardly unusual, but its story is. Continue reading