To launch the new year, on Saturday, January 13 the O’Donnell Institute partnered for the first time with the Crow Collection of Asian Art to present a symposium on the global histories of ceramics. Called Talavera and Ceramic Connections: East Asia, West Asia, and the Americas, the symposium brought together an all-star team of distinguished scholars to study and respond to the Crow’s stunning new exhibition Clay Between Two Seas: From the Abbasid Court to Puebla de los Angeles. The exhibition’s curator Farzaneh Pirouz was joined by Denise Leidy (Curator of Asian Art at Yale University Art Gallery), Guy Thomson (Professor Emeritus of Latin American History at University of Warwick), Jessica Hallet (Researcher in Art History at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa), Ronda Kasl (Curator of Latin American Art at the Metropolitan Museum), and William Sargent (Curator Emeritus of Asian Export Art at the Peabody Essex Museum) for three morning lectures held at the Dallas Museum of Art and an afternoon of gallery-based break-out sections at the Crow. Like the exhibition itself, presentations and conversations were truly global in scope, ranging from sixth-century China to ninth-century Basra to sixteenth-century Mexico to circa-1900 New York. Our own Sabiha Al Khemir presided over the morning session, and Rick Brettell and Crow curator Jacqueline Chao moderated a closing panel in the afternoon.
By all accounts the symposium was a great success, and it’s precisely the kind of program that we are passionate about presenting: collaborative, object-led conversations with broad art historical implications. At the same time that speakers treated specific art historical questions like the origins of the use of cobalt blue in ceramics, the day raised larger questions with broad art historical significance: How is a complex technology transferred across space, time, and culture? How do objects made in one medium like clay dialogue with other mediums like glass and silver? How do local industries like that of Talavera in Puebla intersect with histories of class, race, and national politics? And how do our art histories of porcelain, for example, shape our practices of collecting—and vice versa? These and other questions that emerged from conversations and close looking will chart the course for future research.
If you were among the many friends and colleagues who joined us on Saturday, thank you for coming! If you were not able to attend, there is still time to see the exhibition before it closes in Dallas on February 12 and travels to Puebla, Mexico. It’s not to be missed!
Dr. Sarah K. Kozlowski
The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History