Recapping ASECS in Albuquerque

Posted in conferences (summary) by Editor on March 30, 2010

By Amber Ludwig

If you were at this year’s ASECS Annual Meeting, you probably tried Albuquerque’s favorite ingredient: the green chile. From breakfast burritos to macaroni and cheese, it goes on anything and everything in Albuquerque, NM, adding a flavor of the Southwest to ordinary dishes. A bit of southwestern spice was evident throughout this year’s ASECS Annual Meeting, too. The airport volunteers at the information desk welcomed our ranks with southern hospitality and made sure everyone arrived at their respective hotels. The Hotel Albuquerque provided a southwestern backdrop with tile floors, a large fireplace, and brightly colored walls and furniture. The close proximity to Albuquerque’s Old Town made the hotel a great location for after-conference dinners complete with—what else?—green chiles.

The conference began bright and early on Thursday with offerings that frustrated some of the art historians. Several panels on art were scheduled for the opening session. “Theories of Visual Experience and Artists’ Writings about Art in the 18th Century,” “Constructing a Public Face: Image Creation in the Long 18th Century,” “Gender and Homosociality in the Long 18th Century,” “The 18th Century in Motion,” and “Portraits and Money” all took place at the same time and featured art historical papers. Despite this overlap, the sessions were well-attended, and animated audience members contributed to lively discussions. The day continued with panels on Venice, artists’ lives and afterlives, inspiration, and pastiche. Thursday ended with a rousing member reception that had conference attendees spilling outside, onto the hotel’s warm plaza to enjoy the beautiful weather and setting sun.

Friday continued with strong sessions. “Cultures of Flowers” — despite being held in one of the hotel’s suites rather than a conference room — provided a fascinating look into the various ways flowers conveyed meaning and operated within both intellectual and popular culture of the eighteenth century. “Visualizing Interiority in the 18th Century,” “Enthusiastic Performances: Women and Spirituality in the 18th Century,” “Satire et censure de l’Ancien Régime au Consulat,” and “HECAA New Scholars Session” gave members much to talk about at the HECAA luncheon. The “New Scholars Session,” in particular, demonstrated the variety of approaches and methodologies being employed by younger HECAA members. From theories of looking to econometrics (no, that isn’t a typo!), these presenters showed that the eighteenth century continues to attract innovative researchers. Friday ended with a decorative arts session that combined a traditional presentation of papers with a roundtable discussion, a popular format that encouraged audience participation.

The final day of the conference began with an unexpected snowfall, but the high temperatures melted any evidence well before lunch. The House of Habsburg was well-represented on Saturday with a two-part session addressing both art history and music history. Another multi-disciplinary panel, “Friendship between Men and Women,” tackled this often-ignored type of professional and personal relationship. The panel was a great way to wind down the conference, since it signaled various issues to be explored in the future. As the weekend came to an end, participants seemed a bit tired, but this writer is sure that a dinner—complete with green chiles—fortified everyone, preparing the scholars to tackle airport security for the flights home.

Amber Ludwig is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at Boston University. Her dissertation analyzes the creation and reception of portraits of Emma Hamilton and the ways in which the art of portraiture helped to fashion her public identity. Amber received one of HECAA’s Mary Vidal Memorial Fund Awards for travel to this year’s ASECS meeting.

Details on these panels, including a list of presenters and individual paper topics, can be found here»

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