Speakers

We are pleased to host the following scholars of American art who have been invited to speak on the symposium’s theme.

David Park Curry, senior curator of decorative arts, American painting & sculpture at the Baltimore Museum of Art, specializes in American and European art of the 19th and early 20th centuries.  He is particularly interested in exploring cultural crossroads where art, decoration, and commerce intersect.  In November 2014 he completed a thorough reinstallation of the newly renovated Dorothy McIlvain Scott Wing at the BMA. Dr. Curry holds a PhD in the history of art from Yale University.  He has lectured widely in the United States and England, and published on Homer, Whistler, Sargent, Hassam, American Impressionism and Realism, folk art, Victorian architecture, world fairs, and period framing.  His most recent monograph, James McNeill Whistler: Uneasy Pieces, was published in 2004. His essay, “Much in Little Space: Whistler’s White and Yellow Exhibition as an Aesthetic Movement Bellwether,” appeared in The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900, a traveling exhibition of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts that opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, then traveled to Paris and San Francisco. Dr. Curry is currently working on a contextual study of the Hayes presidential china as well as a short book on William Merritt Chase’s still life paintings of fish. His preliminary work towards an exhibition on Whistler’s shopfront images will be published by the Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin this fall.

Elizabeth Lee is associate professor of art history and Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She teaches courses in modern, contemporary and American art, including topics courses on gender and sexuality in art and on the visual culture of medicine. Her research has appeared in Smithsonian American Art, The Journal of American Culture, Nineteenth Century and Hektoen International: A Journal of Medical Humanities. She is currently writing a book on the links between American art and the history of the body, medicine and health with a focus on the impact of disease on artistic production and consumption in the late nineteenth century. She has received funding for this project from the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the Huntington Library, the Wolfsonian Institute and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Margaret F. MacDonald, Honorary Professor Emerita, School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow, is Director of the Whistler Paintings Project, author or co-author of the catalogues raisonnés of Whistler’s oils, drawings, pastels and watercolors, and Whistler etchings, as well as co-editing the Whistler correspondence, available on-line. Author of numerous books and articles and curator of many exhibitions including, Whistler, Women and Fashion and An American in London: Whistler and the Thames.

Justin McCann is the Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies fellow at the Colby College Museum of Art. McCann recently curated the exhibition Whistler and the World: The Lunder Collection of James McNeill Whistler and edited the accompanying catalogue. He has given Whistler related talks at the Frick Collection and The Clark Art Institute. Currently at work on his dissertation, “Whistler and the Art of Transformation” at Rutgers University, McCann received his MA in art history at Indiana University writing on “My Elastic Capacities: Whistler at West Point.”

Linda Merrill teaches art history at Emory University. From 1986 to 1998 she was curator of American Art at the Freer Gallery, where she oversaw the conservation treatment of Whistler’s Peacock Room. Her books and exhibition catalogues incude The Peacock: A Cultural Biography, Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in Whistler v. Ruskin, and After Whistler: The Artist and His Influence on American Painting. Dr. Merrill is currently organizing an exhibition titled The Lost Symphony: Whistler & The Perfection of Art, which will open at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC, in 2016.

Sarah Kelly Oehler is the Gilda and Henry Buchbinder associate curator of American art at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she focuses on the modern American art collection. In 2015, she co-curated Shatter Rupture Break: The Modern Series I, which united diverse aspects of the Art Institute’s collection of modern art. In 2013, she curated They Seek a City: Chicago and the Art of Migration, 1910–1950, an exhibition and catalogue that focused on immigrant and migrant artists in the city, and was co-curator of Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine, which explored the connections between art and food in the United States. She has contributed to numerous other exhibitions and publications at the museum, including The Age of American Impressionism (2011), American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago from World War I to 1955 (2009), and Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago (2009). Her current projects are America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s (June 2016), which will explore the art and culture of the Depression decade; and Awaken: The Art of Charles White (October 2018), the first major retrospective of this important African American artist in several decades.  She received her PhD in American art from Columbia University and her B.A. in History from Yale University.

Tanya Sheehan is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Art at Colby College, where she teaches American and African American art history. She is the author of Doctored: The Medicine of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America (2011). Her edited books include Photography, History, Difference (2014), Photography and Its Origins (co-edited with Andres Zervigon, 2015), and the forthcoming Grove Guide to Photography (2016). Tanya Sheehan has recently contributed essays to The Image of the Black in Western Art series, the edited volume A Companion to American Art, and the journal American Art. As a research associate at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, she is completing a book that explores ideas about race in American visual humor. Tanya Sheehan currently serves as editor of the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art Journal and organizes the Photography and Migration Project based at Colby College.

Francesca Soriano will graduate in the spring of 2016 from Colby College, where she majors in Art History and minors in German. She recently returned from a semester in Berlin, Germany, where she studied Art History and German at the Freie Universität. Previously, she has studied German at the Middlebury Summer Language School. Her work experience includes being a curatorial intern at the Colby College Museum of Art (Summer 2013 and Fall 2014) and interning for the Development Office at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City, along with internships at various galleries in New York, Paris, and Berlin. In the fall of 2014 Francesca Soriano co-curated the exhibition Aesthetic Harmonies: Whistler in Context and she contributed “Bridge, Amsterdam: Synthesizing Whistler’s Artistic Development” in the catalogue Whistler and the World: The Lunder Collection of James McNeill Whistler. She is also a member of the Colby College Museum of Art’s Student Advisory Board.

Martha Tedeschi is deputy director for art and research at the Art Institute of Chicago. Previously, she held the post of Prince Trust Curator of Prints and Drawings. She is a specialist in British and American art, with a strong interest in the history of printmaking in early modern Europe as well as in the techniques and materials of works on paper. She is general editor and co-author of the award-winning catalogue raisonné The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler (1998). She has published extensively and organized numerous exhibitions for the Art Institute including Songs on Stone: James McNeill Whistler and the Art of Lithography; Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light, and its sequel, John Marin’s Watercolors: A Medium for Modernism. Her most recent exhibition was Undressed: The Fashion of Privacy.

Aileen Tsui is the Nancy L. Underwood associate professor of art history and chair of the department of art and art history at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. She specializes in British, French, and American art of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with particular interests including Aestheticism and modernism, relationships between image and text, and exoticism in visual culture. She received a BA from Yale University and a PhD from Harvard University, and has held an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Columbia University. Her publications on Whistler’s art include articles in the journals Art History, Nineteenth Century, and Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide.  Her most recent publication is “The Painter as Collector: East Asian Objects and James McNeill Whistler’s Abstracting Eye,” in Inventing Asia: American Perspectives around 1900, ed. A. Chong and N. Murai (2014).

Alan Wallach is Ralph H. Wark professor of art and art history and professor of American studies Emeritus at the College of William and Mary.  He was co-curator of Thomas Cole: Landscape into History (1994), author of Exhibiting Contradiction: Essays on the Art Museum in the United States (1998), and co-editor of Transatlantic Romanticism: British and American Art and Literature, 1790-1860 (2015). He has also published over a hundred articles on American art and art institutions. Wallach has served as visiting professor at UCLA, Stanford, the University of Michigan, Williams College, and Berlin’s Free University.  In 2007, he was the recipient of the College Art Association’s Distinguished Teaching of Art History Award.