Art History & Appreciation

Whose Stories Are Told in American Art?

Event Information
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Advance registration is required.

This is event is being held online. After registering, connection information will be emailed to you.

General Public
PAFA Members: $60
Lori Waselchuk
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, What is an American?

Dr. Anna Marley, Chief of Curatorial Affairs and the Kenneth R. Woodcock Curator of Historical American Art, will lead an online lecture series reconsidering PAFA’s storied legacy and unparalleled collection by viewing it through the lens of America’s collective history. Leading art scholars from across the country, including Dr. Dana Byrd, Associate Professor of Art History at Bowdoin, Dr. Christian Ayne Crouch, Associate Professor of History at Bard College, and Dr. Jonathan Katz, Associate Professor of Practice, History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, reconsider PAFA’s collection allowing for a visual accounting of shifting narratives and perspectives.

In this lecture series, scholars respond to PAFA’s current exhibition Making American Artists: Stories from PAFA, 1776 – 1976, curated by Dr. Anna Marley. Attendees will learn about PAFA’s dual legacy of training artists and collecting the art of the United States. The scholars will share their investigations into questions about who constructs history and what it means to be an American, while acknowledging the proliferation of artistic voices that have given the American nation its distinct character.

The lectures take place online. Live attendees may participate in Q&A sessions.

Can't make a Wednesday evening? All registrants will have access to recordings for 60 days.

Scholarships to attend this online series are available. Please click here to learn more and apply. 

Image: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (b. 1960), What Is An American?, 2001-03, lithograph, chine collé, monotype, 68 x 40 in, Gift of Ofelia Garcia, © Jaune Quick-to-See Smith


"Aaron", by Thomas Hart Benton

Those Who Went Before: Black Art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 

7 PM, October 26

Dr. Dana Byrd will present an in-depth history of PAFA's commitment to collecting and representing the diversity of art produced by and of African Americans. 

Dana E. Byrd is a scholar of American art and material culture and Associate Professor of Art History at Bowdoin College. Supported by the Ford, Mellon and Wyeth Foundations, her research engages with questions of place and the role of art and artifacts in everyday life. She was the co-curator, with Frank H. Goodyear of a traveling exhibition and catalog, Winslow Homer and the Camera: Photography and the Art of Painting. Her book manuscript, Reconstructions: Freedom on the South Carolina Sea Island Plantation, 1861-1877, uses art and artifacts to examine the landscape of the transformed Reconstruction-Era plantation.  She is currently at work on project that uses provenance records to explore the circulation of paintings of African Americans during the nineteenth century.

Image: Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), Aaron, 1941, Oil and egg tempera on canvas, mounted on plywood, Joseph E. Temple Fund

The Fox Hunt by Winslow Homer

Homosexual Art Before Homosexuals

7 PM, November 2

While the word homosexual was coined by a Hungarian  in 1869, it was only published in English in 1891, and then used only in medical circles in the US until the 1920s. In this conversation, Dr. Jonathan D. Katz will explore how, in advance of a language for sexual difference, sexuality was still very much a subject for a number of American artists.

Jonathan D. Katz is an art historian, curator and queer activist. Professor of Practice in Art History and in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Katz is a pioneering figure in the development of queer art history, and author of a number of books and articles. He has curated many exhibitions, including the first major museum queer exhibition in the US, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, which won several national and international exhibition and book awards. His current exhibition, The First Homosexuals, is now on view at Wrightwood 659, in Chicago, though February. The first full-time American academic to be tenured in what was then called Lesbian and Gay Studies, Katz was also the founding director of Yale University’s lesbian and gay studies program. An activist academic, he also founded the Queer Caucus for Art of the College Art Association, co-founded Queer Nation, San Francisco, and co-founded the Gay and Lesbian Town Meeting, the organization that successfully lobbied for queer anti-discrimination statutes in Chicago. Katz is President Emeritus of The Leslie Lohman Museum in New York.

Image: Winslow Homer (1836-1910), The Fox Hunt, 1893, oil on canvas, Joseph E. Temple Fund

Ahuka sketch "Peacemaking between the Arikara and the Sioux

Pretty Pictures and the (Re)Framing of America 

7 PM, November 9

Dr. Christian Ayne Crouch considers PAFA’s legacy through the omission of Indigenous voices and perspectives as well as the inaccurate historical narratives of the artworks in the collection. Crouch makes the case that the time now is for the Indigenous works at PAFA to lead the way in helping institutions to think expansively about the making of America and the making of American art, and to correct the broken promises, erasures, and mythologies of the US arts narrative.

Christian Ayne Crouch is dean of graduate studies and associate professor of history and American and Indigenous Studies at Bard College. She is the author of the award-winning Nobility Lost: French and Canadian Martial Cultures, Indians, and the End of New France (Cornell 2014). Her scholarship has considered topics in Atlantic military culture, French empire, and intersections in Native and African American history, as well as contemporary Indigenous art criticism. Her current book project, Queen Victoria's Captive: A Story of Ambition, Empire, and a Stolen Ethiopian Prince explores the human and material consequences of the 1868 Maqdala Campaign in Ethiopia in Atlantic context. 

Image: Ahuka (1858-1884), Peacemaking between the Arikara and the Sioux, 1879, Pencil and watercolor on cream tagboard, Source unknown.