SYMP: POLO S: Reorienting the Visual Culture of the Early Americas @ UPenn


POLO S: Reorienting the Visual Culture of the Early Americas

Friday & Saturday, April 13-14, 2012
The McNeil Center for Early American Studies
University of Pennsylvania 3355 Woodland Walk Philadelphia, PA 19104

Organized by Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, History of Art, University of

In 1936 and 1943, the Uruguayan artist Joaquin Torres García made
two related drawings both of which depict the continent of South America
from a southern perspective. With the cardinal direction of “Polo S”
written across the top of the continent, the artist implored his
modernist contemporaries in the Southern Cone to reconsider their
perspective on the geographic location of the contemporary avant garde
impulse. By invoking Torres García’s radical move, this international and
interdisciplinary conference takes as its mission an exploration of the
theoretical, regional, methodological, and subjective problems encountered
by scholars who are currently working on the “early” visual and material
culture of the southern United States, the Caribbean, and South America. It
is therefore an attempt to identify the shared challenges that researching
and writing about objects produced in these locations prior to 1850 might
present in a moment of de-centered intellectual discourse, not unlike the
one that Torres García critiqued in the middle of the last century.

Marcus Wood, University of Sussex

Amanda Bagneris, Tulane University
Dennis Carr, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Mónica Domínguez Torres, University of Delaware
Maurie McInnis, University of Virginia
Charmaine Nelson, McGill University
Regina Root, College of William & Mary
Tamara J. Walker, University of Pennsylvania

The symposium is funded by grants from the University of Pennsylvania’s
Mellon Initiative for Cross-Cultural Contacts and the Terra Foundation for
American Art, and is supported by the History of Art Department, Africana
Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, and the Arthur Ross Gallery.


Author: Camara Dia Holloway

I am an art historian specializing in early twentieth century American art with particular focus on the history of photography, race and representation, and transatlantic modernist networks. I earned my PhD at Yale University in the History of Art Department. Besides my leadership role as the Founding Co-Director of the Association for Critical Race Art History (ACRAH), I am recognized for my expertise on African American Art, particularly African American Photography, and as a seasoned consultant for exhibitions, museum collections, and symposia/lectures planning.

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