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Internship in Oxford....

posted on 29 Jul 2015 12:13 by Elena Pinto Simon

This summer, a number of Bard Graduate Center students satisfied their internship requirement by completing internships abroad. As they complete their summer experience, they each have written me a note about how it all went. Ana Estrades
an about-to-be second year MA student had the opportunity to spend six weeks at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, under the supervision of Dr. Tim Wilson. I thought you might like to read some of what Ana's summer was like; and also to thank Tim Wilson and the Ashmolean team, who made this extraordinary experience possible!

Ana writes: "My summer internship in Oxford was a very rewarding experience in many fronts, from the personal, to the professional and the academic. I spent a total of six weeks, the first two at the Beazley archive, and the remaining month in the Western Art department at the Ashmolean museum. In the Beazley, I familiarized myself with the archive’s library, projects and publications on gems and cameos, and I also met key people in the gem field: Sir John Boardman, Dr Claudia Wagner and Martin Henig. My work there involved identifying copies in electrotype with the original Beverley gems photographed for an upcoming publication. Also, I learned how to take photographs of gems and cameos up-close, which proved useful for one of my research projects in the museum.
At the Ashmolean, I primarily assisted curator Tim Wilson, an expert in Renaissance maiolica, who was a true mentor during my time in the museum. I completed two research projects under his supervision: the iconography of a recently acquired maiolica istoriato bowl, and the cameos decorating a coin cabinet.


From the beginning, I fitted in well within the Ashmolean's Western Art department team, where I helped in different tasks, from updating their database, to serving the public in their Print Room, finding and handling original drawings. Moreover, by the end of the internship, my efforts were felt both in the museum, and also in my own research. After attending a National Trust conference on Cabinets of Curiosity at Waddesdon Manor, I clarified the focus of my MA qualifying paper: to study the presence of gems and cameo collections in 16th-17th century curiosity cabinets. For this intensely rich experience at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, my sincere appreciation goes to the whole Western Art department team, with special gratitude to Tim Wilson, who taught me so much in little time, and I thank Bard Graduate Center for this wonderful opportunity. "

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Boston Chapter Launches!

posted on 21 May 2015 19:24 by Elena Pinto Simon

Friday, May 15th was a big day for Bard Graduate Center – it marked the launch of the first gathering of BGC’s Boston Alumni Chapter. We came together at the Harvard Art Museum’s beautiful courtyard, and spent a wonderful afternoon in the new study center, looking and talking about a selection of objects from the collection These were selected by Professor Andrew Morrall, who led our afternoon discussion.


And what a wonderful afternoon it was – Prof. Morrall was terrific, as always, and from the expert to the neophyte among us, we spent two hours looking at his selection of early modern objects, from Albrecht Durer’s The Sixth Knot woodcut to a 16th century Spanish Catalonian Luster dish with a bird motif, to Michelangelo’s Goldsmith’s Designs/ Studies for the Magnifici Tomb in the Medici Chapel (1521), to a Persian Annunciation painting with calligraphy (1590), and carved German lindenwood memento mori sculptures of death from the first half of the seventeenth century — some twenty objects in all.


After our session, we all went to supper at GRAFTON STREET, just outside of Harvard Square, and spent some time catching up. The group included Ezra Shales, Virginia Spofford, Nina Cohen, Sophia Lufkin, Jeannie Ingram, Andrew Morrall and Elena Pinto Simon. Special thanks go to Jeannie Ingram for helping to make all the arrangements for our visit.

And so, the Boston Chapter is launched! Next spring, alum Michelle Tolini, Curator of Fashion at the MFA) has invited us to the MFA another gathering and visit. There are currently twelve BGC alums living in the greater Boston area, and we all look forward to re-connecting, staying in touch, and networking connections for all alums. Next stop in June? Chicago!

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Waddesdon Manor

posted on 21 May 2015 18:53 by Elena Pinto Simon

The Bard Travel Program is well underway, and we recently received this image from the students who were in England. (Half of the students went to London; the other half to Paris ) The program is centered in London, but does offer several day trips, and this one was to Waddesdon Manor, the Rothschild Estate in Kent.


Along with faculty members Deborah Krohn and Ulrich Leben, who led the Waddesdon tour, are (bottom row, left to right) Andrew Taggert, Caitlin Dichter, Ulrich Leben, Summer Olsen. In the second row, left to right, are Marietta Klase, Garrett Swanson, Deborah Krohn, Cindy Kok, Caroline O’Connell. Third row includes: Lara Schilling, Christine Griffiths, Sarah Stanle, Amanda Thompson, Clara Boesch, Ana Estrades . On the top step are Kaitlin McClure and Shiela Maloney. The annual trip abroad, led by BGC faculty is for the first year students to study, in situ, many of the objects and kinds of objects they have been studying in the Survey class.

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Conversation with Prof. Catherine Whalen....

posted on 24 Mar 2014 12:47 by Elena Pinto Simon

Assistant Professor Catherine Whalen includes in her areas of expertise American Craft and Design History. She teaches a number of courses in this area. Together with her students, she recently launched the Bard Graduate Center Craft,
Art and Design Oral History Project (http://www.bgccraftartdesign.org/). The Archive is a treasure trove of oral histories, compiled and conducted by her students with craftspeople, designers, and artists. It focuses on contemporary work. There are also photos, video, and a good deal of enormously useful reference materials on the site.

I had a chance to speak with her about this new repository recently.

EPS: Congratulations on the launch. Tell us about how you came to realize that this could be a very important project, and filled a real need.

CW: The project started out in 2007 as an in-class assignment for the seminar “Craft and Design in the U.S.A., 1945-present,” which I regularly teach at the BGC. Oral history is an important methodology for the study of contemporary makers, and one that I believe BGC graduate students should have at their disposal. Time after time, seminar members enthusiastically took on the assignment and came up with great results. I was so impressed with the quality of the interviews they conducted that I began thinking about ways to make them publicly available, and an online digital archive seemed like a very good solution. The fields of craft and design history are vibrant and expanding, and oral histories have been a key resource for new scholarship in these fields. So, the central goal of the Bard Graduate Center Craft, Art and Design Oral History Project document, preserve and make available the voices of contemporary makers for the purpose of research. What makes this archive especially valuable is its range and inclusivity. By highlighting individuals in diverse fields and at different points in their careers, it provides the opportunity to consider the distinctions, continuities, and fluidities among their practices and their work. Interviewees range from those using traditional craft media, such as Mira Nakashima in wood and Mary Barringer in clay, to designers and architects like Ignacio Ciocchini, developer of New York’s newly installed CityBench, and Malcolm Holzman, nationally recognized for his innovative performing arts centers and civic buildings. They also include emerging artists like Allyson Mitchell, who draws upon women’s hobby crafts with a feminist ethos. Our project has garnered praise for its breadth as well as its design, use of images, tagging, and links to resources. These features distinguish it from other oral history projects that may focus on a particular group of makers, don’t incorporate images, or lack ways of making linkages among interviews. Here I am very fortunate to have had the expertise of Kimon Keramidas, director of the Digital Media Lab, designers Laura Grey and Vanessa Rossi, and BGC librarian Erin Elzi.


EPS: How do you hope it continues to grow in the future?

CW: I plan to teach “Craft and Design in the U.S.A., 1945-present” yearly, in which seminar members will continue to conduct interviews for the project. Students undertaking interviews for other research endeavors are also welcome to contribute them. In addition to building the archive, I’d like to make more and more researchers aware of this resource.

EPS: What were some of the surprising things the students discovered as they worked on these projects?

CW: So many things! Interviewing is a revelatory research methodology. This assignment is often students’ initial foray into this mode of intellectual inquiry. It may also be the first time they speak to contemporary makers about their work. It’s impressive to see how much they bring to and get from this experience. Their first task is to select an interviewee, someone they really want to talk to about what they do. If needed, I’ll match them up with a practitioner, but almost always they make the choice on their own, often a person they know, or whose work they admire. Then they draft questions, which we review together. So at the outset, the process raises fundamental questions: Who is a maker? What is practice? What do you want to know? How are you going to find out? How can this material be best presented digitally? How can it be used for future research? The next stage is conducting the interview, which always produces unexpected insights, and that’s exciting. Then, we discuss the interviews as a group, noting their differences and similarities. At present there’s a lot of discussion going on about the convergence of art, craft and design. What do the interviewees have to say on this topic, implicitly or explicitly? Among the makers they’ve spoken with, students have found designers who describe their work as problem solving and craftspeople who stress self-expression, but all are passionate about the relationship between what they make and the people who encounter it.

EPS: Art, Craft and Design seems to be an area that is growing in interest. Why do you think it is historically important to document the ongoing work of these contemporary art and craft makers?

CW: Two reasons: to better understand what is going on now, and to build an archive for future scholars to draw upon. Especially in craft but also design, synthetic secondary literature is a recent and ongoing development. Good oral histories are an essential primary source for this work. In his interview for the project, Paul J. Smith, who assumed directorship of the Museum of Contemporary Crafts (now the Museum of Arts and Design) in 1963, remarked that he wished there was more documentation of the field from that time, but no one was thinking of its historical importance. Now, he is repeatedly asked for this kind of information. I take this cautionary tale to heart. Through the Bard Graduate Center Craft, Art and Design Oral History Project, I believe we are creating a valuable resource for current and future scholarship.

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Furniture Society Seminar...

posted on 05 Feb 2014 15:37 by Elena Pinto Simon

Professor Jeffrey Collins shared his thoughts with me about the recent Research Seminar on British and Continental Furniture and Interiors, 1600-1930,held at the MMA this past week. He notes that four present and former BGC students addressed a packed room at the day-long session, sponsored by the Furniture History Society and hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art on February 3.


( Tilles, Rabie, D'Amato)

“They were among the eleven young museum and academic professionals to share their findings in this prestigious forum, which included multiple BGC faculty, senior Met curators, collectors, and current BGC students. Martina D’Amato (M.A. 2013, now in the BGC’s doctoral program) presented aspects of her ongoing work on “The Chabrière-Arlès Collection and Renaissance Furniture in France and America, 1875-1935”; Haneen Rabie (M.A. 2009, now in the doctoral program in art and archeology at Princeton) spoke about “Dazzling Pastiche: Decorative Art and Design in Second Empire Paris”; and Rebecca Tilles (M.A. 2007, now curatorial research fellow for decorative arts and sculpture at the the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) gave a talk entitled “Historicism or Modernism? Re-evaluating the Regency Revival, 1917-1930.” A fourth former BGC student, Leslie Klingner (now curator of interpretation at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.) spoke about “Vanderbilt at Biltmore: Building on British Traditions.” This very successful event was the first of what the FHS hopes will be further opportunities to encourage and showcase the work of emerging scholars on both sides of the Atlantic.” Congratulations to the students and alums who participated!

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