Conference | Shifting Tides: Art in the 18th-Century Caribbean

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on March 21, 2023

A New & Correct Map of the Trading Part of the West Indies: Including the Seat of War between Gr. Britain and Spain: Likewise the British Empire in America, with the French and Spanish Settlements adjacent Thereto: Adorn’d with Prospects of ye Most considerable Towns, Ports, Harbours &c. therein Contained from the Latest & Best Observations (London: Printed for and sold by Henry Overton, at the White Horse without Newgate, 1741), “Dedicated to the Honble. Edward Vernon Esqr., Vice Admiral of the Blue and Commander in chief of all his Majs. ships in the West Indies, by H.O.”

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From Winterthur:

Shifting Tides: Art in the 18th-Century Caribbean
Online and in-person, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, Wilmington, Delaware, 20–21 April 2023

Join leading and emerging scholars, museum professionals, and community partners as we rethink narratives surrounding colonial art in the Caribbean region. Shifting Tides: Art in the 18th-Century Caribbean aims to reimagine the relationship between American historical collections in public institutions and the communities they serve. The conference is made up of an in-person symposium followed by a virtual study day, with livestreamed roundtable discussion and an examination of paintings in the Winterthur collection. The conference is free, with a box lunch available for purchase. Register here»

Shifting Tides centers the Caribbean region to explore new pathways in the history of eighteenth-century art. Histories of colonial and viceregal American art tend to privilege art produced in continental spaces as they came to be organized as nation states, overlooking the interrelatedness of early Caribbean and continental colonies, and the significance of the Caribbean region.

The Caribbean basin, spanning the coastal areas as well as the islands which lie in the Caribbean Sea, was a central space for the making and circulation of European wealth. It was a space of competition between empires; a space of resistance against imperial exploitation; a space of porous boundaries that facilitated inter-imperial crossings and exchanges between creators and their patrons. This interconnectedness had a profound impact on artistic creation in the early Americas. Artists like José Campeche, Peter Bentzon, John Greenwood, Josef Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza, Antonio José and Juan José Landaeta, and Agostino Brunias, worked outside and across borders; between social classes and races; and beyond sovereignties which historical narratives have organized for the eighteenth century. Abundant evidence also shows that John Singleton Copley, Luis Paret y Alcázar, and Benjamin West’s careers were profoundly impacted by their patrons’ connections to the Caribbean.

Shifting Tides brings together scholars, conservators, community partners, artists, and curators to discuss cutting edge scholarship and initiatives that explore the significance of the art created in and in relation to the Caribbean. We will explore new understandings of art making between American spaces, and reflect on their impact on how institutions frame colonial art in the Americas.

T H U R S D A Y ,  2 0  A P R I L  2 0 2 3

8.00  Registration and coffee

8.30  Welcome
• Chris Strand, Charles F. Montgomery Director and CEO, Winterthur
• Alexandra Deutsch, John L. and Marjorie P. McGraw Director of Collections, Winterthur

8.40  Panel 1 | Sources and Perspectives: Rethinking the 18th-Century Caribbean
Scholars will introduce new perspectives on comparative colonialism in the Americas, on the Caribbean, and the Atlantic world and their role in renewing our understanding of the Americas in the eighteenth century. The panel will also reflect on the ways the field of United States American and Latin American art history have engaged with this recent historiography.
• José Luis Lazarte Luna (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
• Christelle Lozère (Université des Antilles)
• Pedro Luengo (Universidad de Sevilla)
• Eveline Sint Nicolaas (Rijksmuseum)

11.00  Panel 2 | Centering the Caribbean
Panelists will present new sources that are currently employed by art historians, scholars of material culture, and conservators in their research on eighteenth-century art and material culture. The speakers will discuss how their sources have been key to the emergence of new ways of seeing the nature of artmaking in American colonies, the mobility of creators, the role of enslaved individuals, knowledge transfer, and mixed-race artists and artisans.
• Emily Casey (University of Kansas)
• Janeth Rodríguez Nóbrega (Universidad Central de Venezuela)
• Sophie White (University of Notre Dame)

12.30  Lunch

1.30  Panel 3 | Beyond Boundaries: Artists and Creators
This panel will focus on individual-centered narratives emerging from research on creators, as well as curatorial practice. The speakers will talk about their projects and discuss how such individual-centered approaches present models for shifting our approach to what American art as a field of study should encompass.
• Alexis Callender (Smith College)
• Iraida Rodríguez-Negrón (Museo de Arte de Ponce)
• Marc Vermeulen (National Archives, UK)
• Michael Wilson (Temple University)

3.45  Panel 4 | Color and Artistic Creation
This panel will center questions of race and colorism in Caribbean art. Speakers will discuss research and projects that address the various roles that enslaved people and free people of African and Indigenous descent played in artmaking in the Caribbean, as well as their relationships with artistic practices in continental colonies.
• Mark Aronson (Yale University)
• Jorge Rivas Pérez (Denver Art Museum)
• Lucia Noor Melita (Victoria and Albert Museum)

F R I D A Y ,  2 1  A P R I L  2 0 2 3

9.00  Study Session
Physical examination and discussion of colonial paintings in the Winterthur collection, highlighting their Caribbean connections. The selected group of paintings include those by John Greenwood, Benjamin West, William Williams, John Smibert, John Wollaston, and Robert Feke.
• Stephanie Delamaire (Carnegie Museum of Art)
• Matthew Cushman (Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library)
• Mina Porell (The Barnes Foundation)
* Due to space constraints, the Study Day will be filmed and available online only; registrants will receive further information with a link to the recording.

12.00  Lunch Break

2.00  Livestream Roundtable | Research, Methodologies, and Institutional Initiatives
Concluding the conference, this online roundtable will bring together scholars, museum and historic site administrators, and community partners who have contributed to initiatives that are creating spaces for Caribbean art in their institutions and communities. They will discuss new trends and opportunities for an expanded view of the significance of eighteenth-century Caribbean art in various regional and national institutions.
• Rocío Aranda-Alvarado (Ford Foundation)
• Rafael Damast (Taller Puertorriqueño)
• Wim Klooster (Clark University)
• Louis Nelson (University of Virginia)

Speaker biographies are available here»

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