Many of our students and art history faculty took part in the College Art Association’s 2019 conference in New York City, held February 13-16. The conference featured over 300 sessions reflecting a wide range of subject areas. Over the course of the four days, CAA hosted 500 events including distinguished speakers, business meetings, art making and professional development workshops, gallery tours, a book and trade fair, and receptions. We sat down with two first year graduate students, Alaina Hendrickson and Hoyon Mephokee, to discuss their experiences attending the conference.
Alaina, a Northern Renaissance specialist, decided to attend CAA “because it’s one of the biggest art and art history conferences in the world. I’ve always wanted to experience the conference for myself and, as a grad student, I felt prepared academically and professionally to make the most of it.” She also noted the networking opportunities available at a large conference. Similarly, the range of extinguished scholars enticed Hoyon, an European Modern specialist. He said he was “excited to be in the same space as scholars whose works I have read and whose ideas have influenced my own.”
This year’s CAA panels utilized an unprecedented array of subject matter and methodologies. Alaina’s favorite panel was “The Anti-Black Interior? Enslavement and Refinement on Domestic spaces.” The speakers looked at examples of 18th century American household objects that featured images motifs of, or construction by, black slaves as evidence of the paradoxically exclusionary nature of their use and display. Hoyon’s favorite session reflected his interest in European Modern art. “The session that sticks out in my memory is one on Courbet, where I heard papers on a wide range of topics, from his reception in Germany to the human gaze in his paintings of deer.” At this panel, Hoyon spoke with Dr. Mary Morton, whose scholarship on Jean-Léon Gérôme played a vital role in his undergraduate thesis project.
Alaina highly recommends that any student, graduate or undergraduate, attend the conference. “It was an amazing experience and not nearly as tiring as I thought it would be.” Hoyon also recommends attending the conference, with the advice “to strike a balance between planning a schedule and being flexible. I found that it was good to have a set of sessions and events that I wanted to attend, while giving myself plenty of time and space to session-hop and explore at my own leisure.” As Alaina put it, “There is absolutely no reason not to go!”