Debating Cultural Appropriation in the Art History Classroom

I am always looking for activities that make art history relevant to my students as well as disturb the problematic ways in which our discipline has been framed. Students respond enthusiastically when they are allowed to delve into current events that connect with art’s histories. In order to facilitate what can be heated conversations I…

via Debating Cultural Appropriation in the Art History Classroom — Art History Teaching Resources


Art Historian Helen M. Shannon’s Passing


Helen M. Shannon, Ph.D., flanked by Dr. David Milburn and Cecile Keith Brown, date unknown. Source: Dr. David Milburn Legacy Award webpage. Photographer’s name not known.


It is with deep sadness that we report the passing of Helen M. Shannon, Ph.D. The photo was likely taken when Helen worked in the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Education Department, 1976-87, according to her LinkedIn page.

We have suffered a profound loss in our field and it will be felt among those with whom she worked. A few years back, a former student wrote that Helen Shannon had been an important mentor, calling her “one of the most inspirational career driven women I have ever met. I have never had a professor who has pushed me so hard to succeed, and I will be forever grateful to the role she has played in the development of my career as I pursue my Master’s Degree.” Helen inspired many of us, and she will not be forgotten.

Mark Campbell of the University of Arts, where Helen was Associate Professor and Director of the M.A. Program in Museum Studies, has written this account of his colleague:

“It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden passing of
Associate Professor Helen Shannon. Helen has been a well-respected
member of the UArts faculty since joining the University in 2006,
directing the Museum Education program within Museum Studies, and
since fall 2013 serving as coordinator of Graduate Studies. An
accomplished educator and museum professional, Helen has had a deep
and lasting effect on the scholarship and professional training in her

Helen received a BA from Stanford University, an MA from the
University of Chicago, and a PhD from Columbia University – all in Art
History. Her dissertation was titled “Race and cultural nationalism in
the American modernist reception of African art.”  Notable
professional appointments include executive director of the New Jersey
State Museum and educator in charge, Office of Public Programs, at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art. Freelance curatorial work includes “In the
Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” a
Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition, and “Biennial 2000: At
the Crossroads,” for the African American Museum in Philadelphia.

In 2015 Helen published, “Norman Lewis: Presence and Absence” as part
of “Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis” (University of California
Press – Ruth Fine Editor). She was in the process of completing an
important book in the field of Museum Education, “History and
Understanding of Museum Learning.”  Active in the museum world through
lectures and symposia, Helen has served on many boards including
current appointments with the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums and
the African American Museum.  She was also an ongoing member of the
African American Collection Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of

Within the UArts community and beyond, Helen was a respected scholar,
known for her integrity, grace and solid professionalism. She
instilled in her many students a tenacious work ethic, deep respect
for knowledge, and an awareness of the central role that museums play
in the enrichment of our lives.

An event celebrating the life of Helen Shannon will be announced to
the community in the coming weeks.”


– –Mark Campbell, Dean

College of Art, Media & Design

The University of the Arts

320 Broad Street

Philadelphia, PA 19102




IMAGE BELOW: From the award-winning exhibition catalogueProcession: The Art of Norman Lewis (2015). Source: GoogleBooks.


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Two new titles–African-American Art History

From Phoebe Wolfskill (Indiana Univ.), two new titles:

James Romaine and Phoebe Wolfskill, eds., Beholding Christ and Christianity in African American Art (Pennsylvania State Press, 2017)


Phoebe Wolfskill, Archibald Motley Jr. and Racial Reinvention: The Old Negro in New Negro Art (University of Illinois Press, 2017)


Panel on “The Chinese and Iron Road” at University of San Francisco, 4/11/2017, 5:00-6:30 pm

BAKER Horace1833 1918 engraver Across the Continent_1878 Frank Leslie Illustrated Newspapers.jpg

Horace Baker (engraver), “Across the Continent—The Frank Leslie Transcontinental Excursion,” published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspapers, Apr. 27, 1878, page 129, at Online Archives of California.

Caption also reads “Rounding Cape Horn at the head of the great American Canyon with a view of the South Fork of the American River, where gold was first discovered in 1848. Chinese laborers.”


Panelists Sue Lee (Chinese Historical Society of America), Hilton Obenzinger (Stanford University’s Chinese Railroad Worker’s in North America Project), Paulette Liang (a descendant of a Chinese person who worked on the railroad) and James Zarsadiaz (USF) meet to discuss “Reconstructing History, Reconstructing Lives: Chinese Laborers and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad” at USF’s Gleeson Library tomorrow.

The event is free and open to the public.

JOB: Adjunct Faculty @ Tyler School of Art

Tyler School of Art is hiring adjunct faculty for fall 2016 and spring 2017 to teach Race, Identity, and Experience in American Art, a general education (Gen Ed) race and diversity class, typically taught by art historians but open to instructors in related fields or fine arts.

See more about the Gen Ed program here:
and Tyler School of Art here:

More immediately, we plan to offer two online sections of this course this Summer I (class start date May 9) and welcome applications by instructors interested in building a teaching portfolio which includes online experience.  Additional professional development funds are available immediately for instructors who would teach online this summer and work in advance to develop the online iteration of this class.

Please send email of interest and CV to Jennifer Zarro at