Welcome to issue 8.1 of Panorama. We recognize that this has been another long, challenging, and deadly season for many, and that pandemic fatigue, compounding stressors, grief, and social, economic, environmental, and political anxiety have pushed many to their limits—and beyond. As political and environmental crises replace one another unabated in the daily news cycles, we invite readers to find comfort, inspiration, and provocation within our pages. As spring turns to summer, we celebrate the ways in which the cyclical revolutions of nature and seasonal change carry hope for regeneration, healing, and growth. Contributors to issue 8.1 center recovery and rehabilitation as central to their methodologies and working praxis, asking critical questions about inclusion and exclusion, disciplinary othering, and acts of self-definition, agency, and individual self-determination. New directions in scholarship signal promise. We see this issue as one filled with recuperation and celebration and hope that you will too.
This issue includes three feature articles. The first, “Seeing Flora’s Silhouette as Portrait,” co-authored by Phillip Troutman and Jennifer Van Horn, marshals recently uncovered archival evidence to offer a new interpretation of an anonymous silhouette portrait. The two use new material and archival and historical perspectives to examine a late-18th-century silhouette that served as the centerpiece of Asma Naeem’s acclaimed 2018 exhibition “Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now” at the National Portrait Gallery. The portrait has long been framed alongside a sales record identifying the sitter by the name of Flora and denoting her enslavement. Van Horn and Troutman note the absences in this historical record that are tied to Flora’s position as an enslaved person and the intentional erasures that defined her personhood only through bondage. Van Horn and Troutman seek to overturn assumptions about Flora and the silhouette’s authorship by turning to a critical imaginary and a space of conjecture supported by academic research. Methodologically then, this essay proposes creative alternatives for engaging the material and archival remnants and documentary absences regarding the lives of enslaved individuals. “Visuality and the Plantationocene: The Panorama of Regina Agu” by Allison Young introduces readers to a contemporary artist’s one-hundred-foot-long digital photographic collage of Louisiana’s rivers, bayous, and estuaries. Agu’s work evokes the history of nineteenth-century landscape painting while also engaging with climate change and the ways in which global warming disproportionately impacts communities of color. Young expands upon the artist’s social and environmental focus by adopting the Plantationocene as a theoretical approach. She asks us to consider how waterways support/ed the plantation economy, colonialism, capitalism, and racism. Ultimately, Young concludes that Agu’s work illuminates as much about our past as it does our present, operating between such histories in the same way as water, which refuses to be fixed. Nicole Georgopolus’s “‘The Sunflower’s Bloom of Women’s Equality’: New Contexts for Mary Cassatt’s La Femme au tournesol” puts Cassatt’s circa 1905 painting in the context of women’s rights, connecting the sunflower in the painting to the official symbol of women’s suffrage in the United States and Cassatt’s overt support of the movement. Tracking the painting’s provenance and engaging with Cassatt’s personal correspondence, the author reconstructs the painting’s original meaning and the processes by which that meaning has been erased by art historians, critics, and curators over the past one hundred years. Georgopolus interprets the composition not as a simple maternal arrangement but instead as the political and social call to action of one generation of suffragette to the next.
The In the Round for this issue, guest edited by Julia Silverman and Mary McNeil, examines art history’s local turn, adopting an approach that sees “local as an episteme” but also recognizes cultural knowledge as sometimes not shared. Silverman and McNeil emphasize the urgency of their contributing authors’ work, which responds to the “double pandemic” of COVID-19 and white supremacy, crises that are global in scope but “most acutely felt on the local level.” As an answer to the global turn and studies of American art that predispose a nationalist impulse, the five contributors to this section—Samuel Ewing, Molly Robinson, Rachel Winter, Anthony M. Trujillo (Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo), and Layla Bermeo, Tess Lukey (Aquinnah Wampanoag), and Marina Tyquiengco (CHamoru)—attend carefully to the specificities of place, regional ecologies, identity, community knowledge, and materials.
This issue’s Colloquium, guest-edited by Jessica A. Cooley and Anne M. Fox, brings together artists and theorists to reflect on the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Passed on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act legally guaranteed the extension of civil rights to people with disabilities and protection against discrimination based on ability, but the anniversary celebration was disrupted by the COVID-19 global pandemic. As the pandemic wears on, it continues to magnify systemic inequalities and the ways in which society’s support structures fail to provide for the basic needs of many, leaving people in positions of increasing precarity. Social isolation and disposability echo the pre-pandemic experiences of many people with disabilities, issues this Colloquium pushes to the fore. Contributors Jill H. Casid, Allison Leigh Holt, Kevin Quiles Bonilla, Indira Allegra, Alex Dolores Salerno, Ellen Samuels, Pamela Sneed, and Heather Lynn Johnson invite readers to think deeply about the politics and poetics of disability in American art and life.
Three Research Notes examine suggestive archival elisions and residues, recuperating past creative agents and tracing historical actors. Each author grapples with absence, erasure, or recovery, as do other contributors to this issue. Ellery Foutch explores issues of agency, affect, and archival obfuscation in “Iconoclasm on Paper: Resistance in the Pages of Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave, 1849.” Foutch examines one particular copy of a book documenting Bibb’s enslavement and subsequent self-emancipation held in the library of Emory University, which includes the intentional defacement of violent actors pictured in the illustrations. Foutch provocatively queries what this defacement might have meant historically and what it still might have the power to signify today. In “‘Moral Lessons’: Charles Deas’s The Wounded Pawnee,” Carol Clark considers the historical context and iconography of a recently recovered painting by Charles Deas. By situating The Wounded Pawnee within period reception and among other significant works Deas made in the same year, Clark explores how the painting perpetuates stereotypes about Indigenous male violence and how seeing is bound by subject position, time, and place. In “Naming Naquayouma: A Collaborative Approach to American Murals at the 1937 International Exposition,” co-authors Davida Fernandez-Barkan and Phillippa Potts center the critical convergence of their independent academic studies around a Hopi figure who has been erased from art-historical scholarship. Turning to Hopi cultural advisors and discovering two other concurrent studies that similarly aim to resituate Ernest (Eagle Plume) Naquayouma within historical narratives, the authors demonstrate that scholarship, more often than not, is a team effort. Across the section, these four authors take critical stock of their own subject positions in relation to their objects of study; they reflect as much on the historical subject matter as they do on the implications for our present moment.
Expanding on these themes, the review sections survey new directions in scholarship and curatorial practice. Four book reviews address manuscript arts in early Philadelphia, illustrated American fiction and poetry, data-driven histories of nineteenth-century art, and surrealist art and activism. Four exhibition reviews discuss museum presentations of the art of Cauleen Smith, Joseph E. Yoakum, Georgia O’Keeffe, and American painters who worked in France between 1855 and 1913. The Exhibition Reviews editors also reflect on the challenges faced by their section during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the consequences of lockdowns on museums that closed to comply with public health department orders. Many exhibitions had very short runs, while some never opened at all. In both cases, exhibitions were left unreviewed. Museums pivoted to present their holdings to the public online, publishing collections and digital exhibitions. Our editors invite readers to these resources.
We would be remiss if we did not mark the recent passing of important American artists and scholars whose contributions to creative and scholarly fields cannot be overstated. The following names have each graced the pages of Panorama:
Artist (Morton) Wayne Thibaud (1920–2021) represented post–World War II American culture in brilliant, whimsical paintings. In “City, River, Mountain: Wayne Thibaud’s California,” published in Panorama in Fall 2017 (issue 3.2), Margaretta M. Lovell examines the relationships between the artist’s celebrated still lifes and his crafted landscapes. Lovell’s article is the most-visited on Panorama, having received more than 6,600 views.
Philadelphia artist Moe Brooker (1940–2021) was the subject of Nikki A. Greene’s essay “Vibrations in the Soul: Moe Brooker’s Sacred Painting,” published in Panorama in Spring 2018 (issue 4.1). Greene’s article situated Brooker in a lineage of modern painters—from Henry Ossawa Tanner to Wassily Kandinsky—who explored spirituality in figurative and abstract modes.
Art historian and curator Margaret Rose Vendryes (1955–2022) was cited in Anne Monahan and Isabel Taube’s essay “Self-Criticality” in Fall 2020 (issue 6.2) and in James Smalls’s “‘Expressive Camouflage’: Classicism, Race, and Homoerotic Desire in the Male Nudes of Richmond Barthé” (Spring 2018, issue 4.1). A scholar of African American artists’ production, she was the author of Richmond Barthé: A Life (2008), a lively account of the Harlem Renaissance sculptor’s realist oeuvre. Vendryes also was an artist, known for her The African Diva Project (2005–2022), a series of assemblage portraits of legendary Black female entertainers.
Art historian Samella Lewis (1923—2022) produced indispensable reference texts, among them Black Artists on Art (1969), a biographical directory she co-authored with her frequent collaborator Ruth G. Waddy. In “‘The Art of Living’: Selma Burke’s Progressive Art Pedagogies from the New Deal to the Black Arts Movement” (Fall 2021; issue 7.2), Rebecca Giordano numbers Lewis among the activist artist-educators teaching in Black communities in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Do you have someone from the field that you would like to memorialize, or do you aim to share news of the recent death of a scholar of American art or visual or material culture? Please reach out to the editors through the Talk Back section of the journal.
Beyond the pages of this issue, Panorama has been busy. As part of its Toward a More Inclusive Digital Art History initiative, on April 30 Panorama convened a roundtable of three scholars working on digital art history projects. Facilitated by Digital Art History editor Diana Seave Greenwald and Project Manager Johnathan H. Hardy, the panel featured Dana E. Byrd (Assistant Professor of Art History, Bowdoin College), Farès El-Dahdah (Professor of Art History, Rice University), and Brianna Heggeseth (Associate Professor of Statistics, Macalester College). Participants discussed how to use big data to facilitate art-historical research and highlighted elements of their individual projects, including Byrd’s “Tracing Transformations: Hilton Head Island 1861–1865” and El-Dahdah’s “Imagine Rio.” We are thankful to the Terra Foundation for American art for funding Toward a More Inclusive Digital Art History. The supported publications and programming generate stimulating conversations about the challenges, benefits, and stakes of doing data-driven scholarly research. Are you using digital tools in your art historical scholarship? We’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line for publication in our Talk Back section and Subscribe to Panorama for news and updates.
We have some staffing announcements to make, as well. Keri Watson joined as an Executive Editor in 2021. Keri is Associate Professor of Art History in the School of Visual Arts and Design and the Texts and Technology PhD program at the University of Central Florida, where she also serves as the founding director of the Florida Prison Education Project. Her research focuses on twentieth-century American art, critical disability studies, and curatorial practices. This year she published This is America: Re-viewing the Art of the United States (with Keidra Daniels Navaroli: Oxford University Press, forthcoming this fall) and The Routledge Companion to Art and Disability (with Timothy W. Hiles). Mora Beauchamp-Byrd, who joined Exhibition Reviews in 2021, is Visiting Assistant Professor of Art and Design at the University of Tampa; she is an art historian, curator, and arts administrator. Frances K. Holmes is our newest Exhibition Reviews editor, joining earlier this year. She is Assistant Professor of Native American and Indigenous Studies and current department chair at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). Jennifer Way joined our new section “Digital Dialogues” in 2022 and is Professor of Art History at the University of North Texas. In May of 2022, we welcomed Katherine Jentleson as our newest Executive Editor. Jentleson holds a PhD from the Art, Art History and Visual Studies Program at Duke University, where she wrote her dissertation on John Kane, Horace Pippin, and Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses—the first American self-taught artists to gain cultural capital in the mainstream art world. Since joining the High Museum as its inaugural Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught art in 2015, she has curated more than half a dozen exhibitions, including Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe and Gatecrashers: The Rise of the Self-Taught Artist in America, which was also the title of a single-authored scholarly publication based on her dissertation and released by the University of California Press in 2020. We also gratefully acknowledge the term of Constance Cortez, who served the journal from January through April 2022 as an Executive Editor, but who had to step down for personal reasons.
In 2022, the journal began to focus on strengthening our governance, achieving financial sustainability, and clarifying our strategic vision, all while keeping an eye on internal capacity and workload for our majority volunteer board and editorial teams. This January, Panorama shared our 2021 Annual Report at our first official Advisory Board meeting. We also launched six subcommittees to provide guidance on vital operational and directional tasks and topics. The subcommittees are: Development and Fundraising; Digital Infrastructure & Issues; Ethics and Legal Issues; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA); International Initiatives; and Emerging Professionals. We are grateful for the dedication of continuing Advisory Board members Miguel de Baca, Austen Barron Bailly, M. Elizabeth Boone, John Bowles, Michael R. Clapper, Frank H. Goodyear, Jeffrey Richmond-Moll, Bruce Robertson, William Keyse Rudolph, Alan Wallach, Sally Webster, Jason Weems, and Justin Wolff. We are delighted to welcome new members to our Advisory Board: Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, Makeda Best, Mark Castro, Ellery Foutch, David Hart, Elizabeth Hutchinson, Wendy Katz, Kate Clarke Lemay, Jami Powell, Therese Quinn, Alona C. Wilson, and Claudia E. Zapata. These twenty-five individuals will help guide strategic visioning and support the journal through its next phase of maturation.
The production of Panorama is only made possible through the efforts of our editorial team and project workers and through grant support and individual contributions from readers like you. We hope that, as you dive deep into this issue’s contents, you consider making a donation to support the journal. Your gift goes directly toward our operations and ensures the financial sustainability of Panorama—allowing us to continue the work to sustain lively and timely scholarly discourse and engagement.
Cite this article: Naomi Slipp, Jacqueline Francis, Keri Watson, and Katherine Jentleson, “Editors’ Welcome,” Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art 8, no. 1 (Spring 2022), https://doi.org/10.24926/24716839.13366.
PDF: Editors’ Welcome 8.1
About the Author(s): Naomi Slipp, Jacqueline Francis, Keri Watson, and Katherine Jentleson are the Executive Editors of Panorama.