Williams College Honors Art History Graduate Students

Media contact: Gregory Shook, director of media relations; tele: 413-597-3401; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., May 23, 2019—The Williams Graduate Program in the History of Art, offered in collaboration with the Clark Art Institute, will host activities and events in conjunction with Commencement weekend. On Friday, May 31, the program’s 12 graduates will present papers at its Graduate Symposium. On Saturday, June 1, they will participate in the annual M.A. Hooding Ceremony to celebrate their achievements. The events are free and open to the public.


Friday, May 31, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. at the Clark Auditorium (Manton Center), The Clark, 225 South St.

Graduate students will speak for 20 minutes each, with a discussion period following each group of two or three.

Jake Gagne will discuss the history of spirit photography in the United States in “‘Voosh-ti,’ or, Vashti: A Romance of Misrecognition,” considering how images of Native American ghosts enabled white spiritualists to performatively construct race, gender, and national identity in the late 19th century.

Connecting American Civil War history and photography, Jenna Marvin will examine how a substance used to bandage soldier’s wounds was also applied to glass plates to make photographic negatives in “‘Redolent with the Past’: Accumulation and the Glass Collodion Negative.”

Anne-Solene Bayan will explore the role of race as well as other implications associated with the mid-19th-century restoration of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in “The Necessities of Extremes and Contrasts: Architecture, Race, and Geometry at Notre-Dame de Paris.”

In “(Text)ile: the significance of carpets in Lin Tianmiao’s Protruding Patterns,” Wei Wu will interrogate the significance of tactility in Tianmiao’s exhibition “Protruding Patterns” and in particular the affective power of the antique Chinese carpets used in the work.

Julie Reiter will investigate a transition in the practice of Swiss artist Heidi Bucher in “Heidi Bucher’s Embodied Architecture: From Wrapping to Skinning, 1973–1993,” exploring the artist’s evolving perspective on built environments that surrounded her cross-continental work.

Examining Gustav Klimt’s painting “Wasserschlangen” (or, Water Serpents), Gabriella Moreno’s paper “The Sauna is our Second Mother: Gustav Klimt’s Water Serpents and the Poetics of a Gynocentric Evolution” will argue that the Wasserschlangen bespeak the very power of non-phallic sexual pleasure to insist on a new means of representing the fertile body and the multitude of organic entities that category might encompass.

In “Plantings,” Brandon Scott will consider what happens when we attend to plants and attempt to translate their unique liveliness into forms of art, practices of living, and ways of writing.

Kathryn Griffith will examine a portrait by Sandro Botticelli in which the artist embedded a fragment of another image that was over 100 years older than his own composition. Her paper “A Gesture of Translation: Botticelli, Gold, and Material Surfaces” considers that by juxtaposing the two images, Botticelli participated in the experiments of Renaissance artists with the relationship between materials and painted surface, and also gestured to a history of painting.

In her paper “‘The almost empty background is the whole world’: Aquatint in the Work of Max Klinger and Francisco Goya,” Nora Rosengarten will analyze the connections that bind these two artists together as well as shed light on the techniques that each used.

Jalen Chang will present on the topic titled “The Mo(u)rning of the Romantic Child: Runge, Race, and Regeneration.”

Marco Antonio Flores will focus on the controversial 1993 Whitney Biennial and revisit the conservative reception of the show in “Looking Back at the 1993 Whitney Biennial.” In addition, he will highlight advances to diversify the museum and redefine American art.

William Hernandez will discuss the work of artist Alfredo Jaar as a means to demonstrate that artworks can themselves enact politics through participation and visibility rather than through radical transformation. His talk “Seen To Be Heard: Image, Failure, and Efficacy in Studies On Happiness 1979-1981” will place the artist’s early work in conversation with prior revolutionary art in Latin America, explaining how our intuitive understandings of political efficacy limit our expectations for what art can do.


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.