“The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky”, A Review of Professor Mary D. Edwards for The MET

The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky

The very use of the word art suggests one of the basic differences between European or European-derived and American Indian concepts. For not only did few Indian groups allow art to become a major way of life, as in the West, but many Native American languages even lack a term meaning “art” or “artist.” If one wished to refer to a beautiful basket or a well-carved sculpture, it was usually necessary to rely upon such terms as “well-done,” “effective,” or perhaps “powerful” (in the magical sense).

Ranging from an ancient stone pipe and painted robes to drawings, paintings, collages, photographs, and a contemporary video installation, the exhibition “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky,” reflects the significant place that Plains Indian culture holds in the heritage of North America and in European history. Works of art collected centuries ago by French traders and travelers are seen together with those acquired by Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition of 1804–06, along with objects from the early reservation period and recent works created in dialogue with traditional forms and ideas.

The adjunct professor Mary D. Edwards, of the History of Art and Design department at Pratt Institute, was published by the Metropolitan museum of art with the “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky,” a review of the Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: March 3 – May 10, 2015, SECAC Art Inquiries, XVII, no. 1, 2016, pp. 68-71.

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This review describes Plains Indian masterworks found in European and North American collections, from pre-contact to contemporary, ranging from a two-thousand-year-old human-effigy stone pipe to contemporary paintings, photographs, and a video-installation piece.

It also presents the continuum of hundreds of years of artistic tradition, maintained against a backdrop of monumental cultural change. A complete explanation of the art pieces that provide a compelling of narrative about the ongoing vitality of Plains Indians art.

Check here for the review and to learn more!

The International Congress on Medieval Studies is an annual gathering of around 3,000 scholars interested in medieval studies. The congress features around 575 sessions of papers, panel discussions, roundtables, workshops and performances. Professor Mary D. Edwards gave a paper in Michigan “A New Medieval Source for Shakespeare’s Greatest Tragedy,” at the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 13, 2017.



Blog of the week! History of Sculpture – Professor Caterina Pierre’s class 9/12/17


Here is the space for all the students to participate and send their class works to be published! @hadpratt


This week we want to share Emma Seely-Katz blog post

Blog for 9/6: Sculpture That Moves Me

Paul Thek has been one of my favorite artists ever since I discovered his work and story in the book Aliens & Anorexia by Chris Kraus. In it, Kraus details the lives of several artists and thinkers she feels are misunderstood or under-appreciated by society at large. Reading about a work of art before viewing it is a very interesting experience for me–I was immediately taken by Kraus’ description of Thek’s series of sculptures entitled Technological Reliquaries: “wax replicas of animal and human meat encased in glass” and even more so by this quote from Thek explaining that his relationship to visceral imagery was not intended to shock, but to detach and recontextualize: “It delighted me that bodies could be used to decorate a room, like flowers.”

A sculpture that stands out to me from the Reliquaries is called “Birthday Cake.” Four layers of what appears to be bloody “meat” with a layer of human-looking skin on top are stacked like a cake and topped with fuzzy hairs and cheerful pink candles. The “cake” is ensconced in a glass pyramid with metal hardware and yellow striations. The colors grabbed me first: Thek’s characteristic use of paint on wax produces lush, shiny, vital-looking reds and pinks with tinges of blues and greens, as if he’d cut slabs of meat just for the piece and they were in danger of going bad if left out for too long. What really enchants me about this piece is the attempt at demystifying the human body through what can be read as inherently violent imagery: though the image of animal meat doesn’t faze most humans, there is an unspoken distinction between human lives and “other” lives that renders comparisons of human bodies to lesser meat a taboo. Thek breaks this boundary by taking this violent imagery and subverting it with additions that could be considered “domestic,” “feminine,” and even “holy.”

The image of a tiered cake calls to mind frilly wedding receptions and the pink of the unlit candles recalls a birthday party color-coded towards femininity–the juxtaposition of femininity and violence shakes the dichotomy we are entrenched in that unequivocally assigns violence to the domain of “masculinity.” The pyramidal case (evoking ancient holy imagery that Thek returned to again and again in his pieces) with its industrial metal contrasts with its soft, organic, fleshy contents–is this “meat” under protection? Or is it being held captive? How far do we take our obsession with the human body and our certainty in its intrinsic value?

The de-gendering and reverent display of the “cake” raises questions about the value of anatomical form which are addressed by the overarching humor of the piece. Thek does not take himself too seriously and has a similar relationship towards bodies–Kraus cites an incident where Thek visited the Capuchin catacombs, which are decorated with decaying corpses. He picked up what he’d thought was a piece of paper–it was a human thigh. Thek said “We accept our thing-ness intellectually, but the emotional acceptance of it can be a joy.” My senior year of high school, I took a field trip with my anatomy class to a cadaver lab. I was nervous about how I’d react to seeing someone without consciousness, flayed open, empty of all vitality and agency. However, after getting to hold human organs and see a body in a purely aesthetic sense with none of the political and personal implications that are inherent in viewing a live body, I had at least a moment of acceptance of our thing-ness, and it was a joy.

Emma Seely-Katz

Professor Anca Lasc’s New Book is Available for Pre-order

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Architecture of Display

Department Stores and Modern Retail

Through an international range of case studies from the 1870s to the present, this volume analyzes strategies of display in department stores and modern retail spaces. Established scholars and emerging researchers working within a range of disciplinary contexts and historiographical traditions shed light on what constitutes modern retail and the ways in which interior designers, architects, and artists have built or transformed their practice in response to the commercial context.

Architectures of Display is an important and welcome addition to the scholarship of interiors, retailing, and consumption. The fascinating case studies in the volume, not only engage with particular historic moments in retail design, but as a volume emphasize the crucial importance of the visual when engaging with consumers.” Clive Edwards, Emeritus Professor of Design History, Loughborough University, UK

“In its interrogation of the architecture of display, and display as integral to architecture’s cultural impact, this collection moves far beyond conventional studies of consumption. Its contributions are multiple and compelling: it situates the emergence of the display window and the department store within an expanded history of architecture’s material effects; it argues that techniques and technologies of display have been at the core of artistic experimentation; and it shows that the arrangement of consumer goods is nothing if not political.” Charles Rice, School of Architecture, University of Technology Sydney, Australia


Anca I. Lasc Assistant Professor of Design History in the History of Art and Design Department at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York.

Patricia Lara-Betancourt is a design historian and research fellow at The Modern Interiors Research Centre, Kingston University, London, UK.

Margaret Maile Petty is Professor and Head of the School of Design in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.

Now its available for pre-order here


A New Painting Exhibition of Work by Professor Elizabeth Meggs at Sweet Lorraine Gallery

Opening Saturday, August 5, from 3 – 6 pm

“Other Voices, Other Rooms: There Must be More To Life”
An Exhibit of Paintings, August 5 – 30

Sweet Lorraine Gallery
Ti Art Studios
183 Lorraine St
Brooklyn,NY 11231

The entrance is located on Lorraine Street between Court and Clinton. This is the big red and blue TI Storage building, with a bright red water tower on top. There is a thriving arts community on the third floor of this building, including the art gallery and more than 100 art studios. It’s a hidden gem! The closest subway stop is the Smith and 9th St. station, F and G trains. (From the Smith and 9th subway station, turn right after exiting the station. Continue walking on 9th St. until you reach Court St., then turn left onto Court St. Continue walking on Court St. under the overpass, past Hamilton Ave., until you reach Lorraine St. Turn right onto Lorraine St. The door to the art studio complex is located street side on Lorraine St., and has a blue awning indicating TI Art Studios and Sweet Lorraine gallery.)

You can make a day of your trek to the area and visit nearby Red Hook locations like Van Brunt St., Waterfront Barge Museum, Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier, Brooklyn Crab, Fairway Market, the famous food trucks at the Red Hook Ball Fields, and more. There are great restaurants like Buttermilk Channel, Frankie’s, and Prime Meats on nearby Court St. You can also buy a Stockholm at nearby Ikea (which has a water taxi to Manhattan).

“A space exists while it simultaneously does not, in an ode to imagination. We experience multitude spaces, from mental, emotional, and subconscious interiors to physical spaces and public presentations. These paintings reflect ambiguities of existence, for while the forms are drawn in a frontal manner, often touching and acknowledging the edge of the canvas and emphasizing flatness; the color, value, and scale alone create a feeling of three dimensional space. Limitations are imposed, rejecting most traditional means of creating an illusion of space on a two-dimensional surface via overlap, cast shadows, linear perspective, and more. Chromatic energy is persistent. Is color a door to a new dimension?”

“Other Voices, Other Rooms: There Must Be More to Life,” Elizabeth Meggs, oil paint on canvas, 48” x 48”, 2017

Professor Marsha Morton’s Sabbatical Year Research and Lectures

During her sabbatical last year, Professor Marsha Morton gave the following talks at conferences:

– “The Shadow Side of Berlin: Max Klinger’s Archetypal Crime Scenes,” in “City of Sin: Representing the Urban Underbelly in the Nineteenth Century,” ESNA (European Society for Nineteenth-Century Art,) Conference, May 19-20, 2016, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

– Session Chair and Speaker, “Alternative Orientalisms: Intercultural Encounters in the Visual Arts,” at the German Studies Conference, San Diego, California, September 2016.

– “’Impressions of Strangeness: Dream and Reality in the Art of Max Klinger,”  invited Burke Fund lecture in the Department of Art History at Indiana University, November 11, 2016.

– “Picturing the Arab Volk: Carl Leopold Müller in Egypt,” paper presented in the session “Hybrid Histories,” at the CAA Conference in New York, February 2017.

– “Rudolf von Eitelberger and Leopold Carl Müller: An Oriental Turn,” at the conference “Rudolf von Eitelberger: Netzwerker der Kunstgeschichte. Tagung zum 200. Geburtstage von Rudolf von Eitelberger (1817-1885), Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK), Vienna, 27-29 April 2017.



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