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François Louis, 2019 CAA Conference
Catherine Whalen, 2019 CAA Conference
BGC Publications, 2019 CAA Conference
Book launch for Jan Tschichold. Paul Stirton (center) with Dan Lee, BGC director of publishing, and Jocelyn Lau, designer.
Paul Stirton lead a gallery tour during the book launch party.

Bard Graduate Center faculty, students, and alumni were out in force at the College Art Association Conference held in New York City February 13-16. Eleven BGC scholars presented current work on decorative arts, design, and material culture across wide-ranging subjects, locations, and time periods—from early modern Chinese metalwork to twentieth-century American design.

Starting off the first full day of talks, Deborah Krohn and Catherine Whalen co-chaired the session “Material, Materiality, Materialism,” which reflected upon how scholars in the humanities and social sciences use these terms. Panel topics included materialist philosophy in Greek and Roman art, the cultural resonance of glass in early modern Europe, and how the analytic frameworks of textile conservation can reorient and nuance histories of fiber art. François Louis presented “Early Liao Dynasty Metalwork and Its Turkic Cognates” in the context of nomadic art, while Freyja Hartzell spoke on “Poets of Wood: Dürer, Goethe, and Modern German Design” as a form of design heritage.

Three out of four speakers in the session “Twentieth-Century Design and the Immigrant Professional in the Americas” were associated with Bard Graduate Center. PhD student Michelle Jackson-Beckett spoke on “Immigration and American Design Education: Walther Sobotka’s Design Pedagogy and Philosophy in 1940s Pittsburgh.” Erica Lome (MA 2015), now a PhD candidate at the University of Delaware, presented “American by Design: Immigrant Cabinetmakers in the Colonial Revival, 1900-1940,” while Denver Art Museum curator Jorge Rivas Perez (PhD 2018) discussed “Furniture Designs by Cornelis Zitman: A Forgotten Legacy of Venezuelan Mid-Century Modern Design.”

BGC doctoral students who presented included Antonia Behan, “Ethel Mairet’s ‘Textile Biotechnics’ and the Aesthetics of Materials,” and Xiaoyi Yang, “A Rags-to-Riches Story: Tracing Zhangzhou Ceramics for the Japanese Market.” Amber Winick (MA 2013) spoke on “The Tie-Waist Skirt and the Makings of Maternity: Fashioning the Pregnant Body in the Twentieth Century,” while Mei Mei Rado (PhD 2018), who is on the faculty at Parsons School of Design, presented the talk,“Delight in Otherness: Western Figures in Qing Palace Interiors.”

Bard Graduate Center publications were well represented by Paul Stirton, editor-in-chief of West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture; Dan Lee, director of publishing, and Alexis Mucha, manager of rights and reproductions, gallery admissions and retail.

On February 15, CAA attendees joined faculty, staff, and colleagues from Yale University Press for a book launch party at BGC celebrating Paul Stirton’s Jan Tschichold and the New Typography: Graphic Design Between the World Wars.

— Catherine Whalen