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I am deeply honored to be serving as the incoming Director of the Arts Research Center; as a long-time faculty affiliate and former Interim Director, I have personally witnessed how ARC’s varied activities stimulate conversation and collegiality across campus and beyond.

For this academic year, I want to emphasize the word research, and have programmed a series of events that focus on how arts research is pursued via multiple, often experimental formats. How does artistic practice itself function as a mode of research? How do curators grapple with history and make it legible through visual arguments? How does hands-on making, or dancing, or poetry writing, create new kinds of bodily archives? And how does academic scholarship on the arts account for alternative, frequently politically urgent methods of inquiry?

Throughout its talks and workshops in 2017-18, ARC will be bringing together students, scholars, curators, and artists to engage with these questions—I look forward to seeing you there!


Julia Bryan-Wilson
Director, Arts Research Center
Professor, History of Art


Upcoming Event: Artist Talk with Anicka Yi


Force Majeure_Yi

Thursday, January 25, 2018, 5:30 pm
Artist Talk with Anicka Yi
Maude Fife Room, 3rd Floor, Wheeler Hall

Artist Anicka Yi will talk about her work and artistic practice as it relates to synthetic biology, bio engineering, extinction, and bio fiction. Using her 2016 Guggenheim Museum Hugo Boss Prize exhibition “Life Is Cheap” as a case study for her talk, she will examine her concept of “biopolitics of the senses,” or how assumptions and anxieties related to gender, race, and class shape physical perception.

To learn more, click here.

Upcoming Event: Amateurism Across the Arts Conference


cartenera books

Friday, March 9, 2018, 9:30am-6:15pm
Amateurism Across the Arts Conference
Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology

Amateurism Across the Arts is an exploration of vernacular, popular, fannish, kitsch, informal, self-taught, user-generated, and DIY production in music, architecture, literature, the visual arts, dance, and new media– especially in relation to raced, classed, and gendered notions of value. How do the implicitly skilled “arts” rupture and reorganize themselves around hierarchies of taste? And how can critical race and feminist/queer scholarship account for “hobbyist” — that is, extra-institutional, self-organized, or improvised — modes of cultural production and circulation? If amateurism has been traditionally disavowed in modernist and avant-garde historiographies, it is at the same time persistently—even obsessively—invoked, and is hence inextricably woven into those discourses.

The symposium asks how the “high” and the “low” are porous constructions by looking at the ways that these charged terms have been deployed and dismantled across several artistic disciplines, particularly as we examine the alternative economies and systems of distribution that attend such forms of making. While it has become commonplace for “fine” artists to recruit untrained participants into their practices, it is vital to acknowledge that many non-professional forms of making grow out of necessity and survival. In addition, though “amateur” is frequently used as a shorthand for the unpracticed and/or uninteresting, this conference seeks to understand its connections to its root word amare: a complex outgrowth of critical investment, pleasure, and love.

To learn more, click here.

Now Online: In Terms of Performance, a keywords anthology for contemporary cultural practice


In Terms of Performance is a keywords anthology designed to provoke discovery and generate shared literacies across disciplines. It features essays and interviews from more than 50 prominent artists, curators, presenters, and scholars who reflect on common yet contested terms in contemporary cultural practice. The publication is produced by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia and the Arts Research Center and is co-edited by Shannon Jackson, director of the Arts Research Center, and Paula Marincola, executive director of the Pew Center. To read the free publication online, please see here.