PhD candidates Gabriela Germana, Jennifer Baez, and Lesley Wolff each presented papers at the Latin American Studies Association Conference in May in Lima, Peru. All three graduate students participated in the panel “Visual Literacies in Contemporary Latin America: Post-Resistance?” a session they co-organized and co-chaired. The panel’s theme of vernacular visual politics and artistic agency derives from critical issues frequently addressed in the Department of Art History’s Visual Cultures of the Americas program.
Wolff’s paper, “Past, Present, Plate: The Visual Politics of Mexican Gastronomy,” explores the role of Mexico City’s fragmented contemporary geopolitical landscape in the modernist aesthetics of popular chef Enrique Olvera’s Mexican cuisine.
Baez presented “The Faceless Doll: From Moca to the Global Stage,” which considers the development of a popular tourist trinket from its creation in the Dominican Republic in the 1970’s to its current popularity as a marker of Latino heterogeneity in the United States. She uses the doll’s physical transformation and transnational voyage to analyze current art historical approaches to identity and diversity.
Germana’s paper, “Doing it their Own Way: Contesting Western Modernity in the Paintings of Sarhua, Peru,” analyzes a group of late twentieth-century paintings made by artists from Sarhua living in Lima. Germana shows that the Sarhuino’s choice to adopt elements of Western modernity was not intended to follow Western patterns, but rather to reconstruct their own fractured identity in a different context.
Baez and Germana also participated in the Symposium “Diálogos de Arte,” organized by the Institute of Museological and Artistic Research of Ricardo Palma University, also in Lima. Baez presented the paper “Parece que no quiere Dios Nuestro Señor que salga de aquella villa: Imagen, historia, transición, y los medallones de la Altagracia” in the panel on colonial art, and Germana presented the paper “Las vicisitudes de los retablos ayacuchanos: Entre los discursos nacionalistas, el mercado y el sistema de arte contemporáneo” in the panel on modern and contemporary art. Finally, at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Lima, Germana participated in the presentation of the book “Arte y Antropología. Estudios, encuentros y nuevos horizontes,” edited by Dr. Giuliana Borea.
At the conclusion of the various conferences in Lima, the students continued their travels with a research pilgrimage through Peru:
We traveled together to Cusco, where we visited numerous archaeological sites throughout the Sacred Valley, including Ollantaytambo and Pisac. We then spent about four days in Puno, a city along Lake Titicaca at Peru’s southern border. We explored the island of Taquile, situated in the middle of Lake Titicaca (and at a breath-taking 4,000 meters high!) and visited the Islas de los Uros, floating man-made islands. We also visited stunning colonial churches in the surrounding towns of Chucuito, Juli, and Pomata, among others. One of the unexpected joys of this department has been the opportunity to travel the world with such good friends and colleagues.We traveled to these sites eager to explore the history and arts together, but our time together prompted even more ideas and inspiration than I could have imagined. For all of us, this trip has sparked exciting new avenues for future research projects.