Objects and Meaning through History

In twentieth century America, volumes have been written about art with discussions of craft often an afterthought. For those whose primary interest is focused on three-dimensional objects, there is no specific language or system of evaluation appropriate to their needs. Art history’s use of painting as a singular standard has left three-dimensional objects to adjust to a language largely written from a flattened, two-dimensional perspective. With frustration, scholars and writers attempt to apply a language structured upon the painted image to volumetric form. Paul Greenhalgh summed up his particular frustration as curator of ceramics at the Victoria and Albert Museum, when he quipped “Ceramics is occasionally the subject of art history, but more often it is its victim.” This talk examines how academic disciplines and cultural institutions have assigned meaning to expressive objects over time. The talk is derived from the speaker’s written chapter, “Regarding the History of Objects” in Objects and Meaning, a book she co-edited. The talk challenges today’s art world vision of the arts and is sure to spark a lively debate.

Lectern, LCD projection system