Seminar Students Work on Upcoming Exhibition

 

During the spring 2015 semester, students from the course “Sugar, Tobacco, Rice, and Rum: Art of the Atlantic World, 1620-1812” taught by Dana E. Byrd, assistant professor of art, became first-time curators, collaborating with the Bowdoin College Museum of Art on an original exhibition titled Empire Follows Art: Culture and Identity in the Atlantic World, on view in the Zuckert Seminar Room from May 10 to August 30, 2015. The course, cross-listed between the departments of art history and Africana studies, explores how intercontinental trade, the exchange of ideas and technology, and the mass emigration of peoples reshaped life, art and culture in the Americas, Europe and Africa during the long-eighteenth century—a term used by historians to describe the period of time from 1640 to 1830. Professor Byrd generously designed her new course around the planning of the exhibition: each student conducted extensive research and wrote gallery labels on individual artworks and artifacts from the Museum’s permanent collection that provide rich records of the extensive network of economic and cultural exchange across the Atlantic basin. The diverse collection of objects on view include a large porcelain bowl used to serve Caribbean rum punch and an eighteenth-century map of the eastern and western hemispheres that includes indications of trading posts along the western coast of Africa constructed for the transportation of enslaved peoples to Europe and colonial outposts. In addition to their research, the students collectively discussed and defined the exhibition’s themes of production, consumption, and travel, and provided the installation plan for the exhibition. Throughout the process, the students have found fascinating new ways for interpreting and enlivening a diverse array of art and artifacts from the Atlantic World.

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