CFP May 1, 2002

AHAA Sessions at CAA, New York 2003

The Association of Historians of American Art, an affiliated society of the
College Art Association, will be sponsoring 2 sessions at the 2003 CAA
Conference in NYC (Feb. 2003).

Please submit papers directly to the session co-chairs by May 10, 2002.

1) 'Strangers in the Night'?: Case Studies in Visual Culture and American
Art History

Angela Miller, Department of Art History & Archeology, Washington
University, Box 11891, St. Louis, MO 63130

This session will explore the emergent field of visual culture in relation
to the canons, disciplinary approaches, and value hierarchies of Art
History. The visual cultures of the U.S. (including animation and graphic
arts, film, advertising, medical and ! magazine illustration, neon and
billboards), are especially susceptible to such study, given their richness,
and their pronounced role in visual modernity. The newness of visual culture
studies is both a strength and a weakness, offering a critical vantage from
which to reconsider the too-often invisible manner in which Art History is
constructed as a discipline, but presenting as well a sometimes vast and
undifferentiated field of artifacts so inclusive as to overwhelm theoretical
and historical catagories.

Our purpose is not to rehash efforts to give a definitinal fixity to visual
culture, since this ends up reinventing the taxonomies of the older Art
History. Rather, we propose a series of "case studies" in how to incorporate
a broader field of visual artifacts into our classes and exhibitions. We
would also like to explore ways to historicize these artifacts and their
roles in shaping ideol! ogies, as well as their forms of circulation. Using
such case studies, what can we learn about how the realm of the visual
reinforces, qualifies, or rethinks cultural value systems. We are
particularly interested in the ways in which visual artifactsj consigned to
"non-art" status reinforce the category of "high art" therough difference.
Are there common questions that we can use to frame visual culture as a
unified fieldj, according to such poststructuralist considerations as the
mutually constitutive role of high and low art? We welcome proposals from
museum professionals, curators, museum educators, as well as academicians.

2) Reframing American Art for the Public: Current Ideas on Permanent
Collection Reinstallations

Terry Carbone, Department of American Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, 200
Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Museum curators, museum educators, and professors of American art are
invited to submit papers on the subject of current theory and practice of
permanent installations in the field.

Who are permanent installations of American art for? If they are for the
broadest possible audience (encompassing children and adults of a diverse
range of cultural backgrounds and experience as museum visitors), how can
the varied needs of discrete segments of that audience be addressed
effectively? How does a collection limited by the history of its collecting
parameters achieve broad appeal and embrace the interests of a wide array of
racial and ethnic communities? And to what degree should the character and
content of a traditional American collection be reframed to enhance its
reach? Is th! ere a dissenting voice amid this trend toward broad appeal?
Can any permanent collection afford to retain a tight focus that might limit
its relevance to a wide audience?

These are questions with which Americanists today must come to terms as the
challenge of intellectual and cultural accessibilty, as it is currently
conceived, is placed before them. As museum increasingly undertake
reinstallations of their permanent collections with similar goals, methods
such as mixing media (fine arts, decorative arts, material culture, and film
and video), thematic frameworks, and community involvement have become
familiar tools for reshaping the presentation of objects.

Participants in this session are asked to provide their perspectives on the
goals, methodologies, and success of recent permanent reinstallations in
which they have played a major role in organizing or have utilized in
teaching. They are aske! d to address such questions as: How can disparate
collection elements (i.e., Native American objects), which effectively
redefine the traditionally conceived notion of "American Art," be
successfully integrated? How should the level and position of a didactic
program be determined? What is the most effective way to compensate for
collection weaknesses? How do you measure the success of a permanent
reinstallation, which can offer the opportunity for ongoing dialogue in a
way that temperary exhibitions cannot?

This session ideally will address recent installations at a broad spectrum
of art museums. Collaborative papers are welcome.

For further information about the Association of Historians of American Art,
please contact:

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