Faculty Guest BloggerS: Dr. Christ Irwin & Dr. Ashley Hartman
Dr. Irwin & Dr. Hartman: In November 2019, we had the great opportunity to visit Buenos Aires, Argentina to present our work at the Twelfth International Conference on The Inclusive Museum at the Museo de la Inmigracion MUNTREF. The Inclusive Museum conference offers opportunities for conversation among international scholars and curators about interdisciplinary work, emphasizing inclusive and interactive practices in the museum.
We organized a session at the conference to explore how we might collaborate to draw on each other’s research. Our session was a focused discussion titled Exploring Cultural Identity Through the Artwork of Colonial Latin American Artists. While it is more typical at academic conferences for scholars to organize sessions composed of a handful of speakers who each present 20-minute papers that are united by some theme, we opted for a focused discussion so that we could each briefly present our research, and then pose questions to the audience in order to generate productive conversations about our ideas.
We are both expanding on the themes relevant to each of their dissertation research emphases, and since Marywood’s Art Department offers the opportunity for such interdisciplinary connections, they have been exploring ways in which art history and art therapy can work together intellectually, conceptually, and in practice. We had discussed possible collaborations since beginning to work together in Fall 2018, but found an opportunity to attend a conference together when this event came up. Below is a brief summary of our work, from each of our points of view.
“My research focuses on three Italian artists who traveled to Lima, Peru in the sixteenth century as part of the Spanish mission to convert the indigenous populations to Christianity. Their Christian-themed paintings served to teach religious narrative and ideals. The paintings also introduced the European Renaissance style of art. I am interested in considering these paintings as tools used not only to teach Christianity, but also weapons used in the campaign to destroy indigenous belief and culture. These Italian paintings are dramatically different in style and conception from the traditions of local art that had persisted for centuries in the Andes prior to Spanish conquest. The European art represents one way of seeing the world and making art, while Andean art represents a very different way of seeing.”
“This opportunity allowed the stimulation and discussion of a continuation of my work in exploring the interdisciplinary nature of museum-based art therapy. It allowed us to emphasize the importance of identity development, particularly how art therapists can use different processes in the museum to promote self-expression and dialogue about convoluted sociopolitical issues as well as offer the facilitation of exploration of cultural identity through engaging with artworks and museum objects in the gallery, and subsequently creating personal artwork and reflecting on such themes.”
We plan to continue approaching ways to collaborate through pedagogical practice as well as conceptually and theoretically.
While our primary reason for visiting Argentina was to present at this conference, we did take some time to tour Buenos Aires, including visits to the Latin American Art Museum (MALBA) and the Fine Arts Museum (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes). We also enjoyed the local cuisine (a lot of it!), including Argentinian barbecue, Cafe con Leche, empanadas, and arepas, to name just a few of our indulgences. Buenos Aires is a large, cosmopolitan, international city—we both commented that at times we felt we were in Paris, and at other times, Brooklyn!