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The Florida State University Art History faculty and graduate students will host the 40th Annual Art History Graduate Student Symposium on March 1–2, 2024, on their main campus in Tallahassee, FL.

Rachel Ciampoli will be presenting on “‘The Indigenous Posey of the Soil:’ Eastman Johnson’s Maple Sugar Paintings and the Aesthetics of Erasure.”

Between 1861 and 1865, American genre painter Eastman Johnson produced roughly twenty-five oil sketches in preparation for an ultimately unfinished master work depicting New Englanders engaged in the harvest and production of maple sugar. Although hailed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as a potential domestic cash crop and a wholesome foil to the unsavory politics of cane sugar production, northeastern maple sugar was entangled in contentious Indigenous-settler relationships. Using Sara Ahmed’s theory of “stickiness” as a framework, I argue that Johnson’s sentimental and homogenously White characterization of maple sugaring should be understood in light of the erasure of Native American cultural practices and Johnson’s own relationship to Indigenous communities. Recovering Indigenous associations with the practice of maple sugaring engages in the very process of untangling— perhaps unsticking—historical assumptions and perpetuated myths and undermines the integrity of a single-origin narrative, thereby complicating typical expectations of place and people.

Sydney Herrick will be presenting on “Breaking Chains, Forging Beauty: Redefining African Jewelry Design Through the Artistry of Emefa Cole.”

Within prevailing art historical discourse, contemporary African jewelry remains overlooked, primarily due to long histories of exoticization and jewelry’s association with craft. This paper focuses on the work of British-Ghanian jewelry designer Emefa Cole, examining how her utilization of sticky materials, referential designs, and diverse display methods disrupts these conventional paradigms and position her work as fertile ground for exploring critical theoretical frameworks like Afrofuturism and Black Futurity. This paper positions contemporary African jewelry as a medium ripe for in-depth art historical and theoretical investigation, highlighting a significant void in the field and advocating for a renewed emphasis on jewelry as an autonomous art form capable of enhancing broader understandings of art, culture, and individual expression

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