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Stuff ‘Matters’: Centering Materials and Representation in American Sculpture

November 19, 2021 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm Free


Over the last couple of years, American sculpture has dominated national news in the discussion of monuments, shedding a small light on a developing field of scholarship that focuses on the connection between the placement, materiality, and representation of sculpture within the United States. At this virtual panel discussion, emerging scholars and co-founders Christine Garnier, Kelvin Parnell, and Kate Sunderlin will introduce the Association of Scholars of American Sculpture (ASAS), its goals to create and support community around the discussion of American sculpture, and upcoming events relating to the organization. Additionally, they will discuss their own scholarship on issues of materiality, race, and representation, the founding seeds that brought these three scholars together to form ASAS.

This event is virtual, please register HERE

Speaker Bios: 

Christine Garnier is a PhD candidate in the History of Art & Architecture at Harvard University where she studies the material histories of the decorative arts and photography in the United States. Her dissertation, “The American Silverscape: Art, Extraction, and Sovereignty (1848-1893)” considers how a range of aesthetic silver objects–sculptures, medals, dinner services, and jewelry–helped mediate discourses on economics, natural resources, and Indigenous sovereignty during the silver mining boom of the nineteenth century. Her research has been supported by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Decorative Arts Trust, and the Huntington Library, among others. She has a bachelor of science in mathematics from The Catholic University of America, and a masters degree in art history from Tufts University.

Kelvin Parnell Jr. received his undergraduate degree in history and art history from Duquesne University. He is a current doctoral candidate at the University of Virginia specializing in race, identity, and materiality in nineteenth and twentieth-century American sculpture and sculptural theory. Kelvin is currently working on his dissertation titled, “Casting Bronze, Recasting Race: Sculpture in Mid-to-Late Nineteenth-Century America.” His project explores race and sculptural theories to examine the intersections of race, bronze material, and statuary in constructing Native and African American identities in nineteenth century America through the works of sculptors Henry Kirke Brown and John Quincy Adams Ward. Kelvin is currently the CAA Director of Emerging Professionals and the founder of the Association of Scholars of American Sculpture. His work has been supported by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Association of Historians of American Art, and the Jefferson Scholars Foundation among others.

Kate Sunderlin is a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Commonwealth University and is currently writing her dissertation on how plaster objects in Edward V. Valentine’s studio and the early Valentine museum play into the critical and art historical discussion surrounding the repercussions of racism, slavery, colonialism, and empire. She is acting as a consultant for the Valentine Museum’s reinterpretation of Edward Valentine’s studio in order to address its problematic narratives and redeploy the space as a location for community conversations about Lost Cause public art and mythologies, the Jim Crow era, and their continuing impact on the city of Richmond. She balances work on her dissertation and as a museum consultant with her work at the B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry, a business she co-owns with her husband. She runs the tour program, introducing guests to the field of campanology – the study of bells – as well as the daily workings of an active bronze foundry.