10/10-10/11: Un-Fair Trades: Artistic Intersections with Social and Environmental Injustices in the Atlantic World

Darius Kinsey, Horses Hauling a Spruce Log 30 Feet in Circumference, Washington, 1905, Library of Congress.

Un-Fair Trades: Artistic Intersections with Social and Environmental Injustices in the Atlantic World

Thu, Oct 10th, 1pm – 7:30pm

Fri, Oct 11th, 9:30am – 7:30pm

The Graduate Center, CUNY

Martin E. Segal Theatre

365 5th Avenue

New York, NY 10016


Keynote Addresses by Dr. Alan C. Braddock and Dr. Charmaine A. Nelson

 Artists have engaged with issues of oppression and exploitation—byproducts of colonialist and capitalist systems—throughout the history of transatlantic encounters: from slavery and resource extraction; to exploitative labor practices and the environmental consequences of industrialization; and human rights movements and climate change anxieties of the past century. This conference will examine a multitude of artistic responses to increasing global connections, which could include plantation scenes, images of the Middle Passage, social reform photography, industrialized cityscapes, and images of workers and employment. When examined through the lens of our contemporary social and environmental concerns, artworks whose motifs intersect with these imbalances of power compel us to analyze the visualizations of oppression and environmental degradation from a new perspective. Amid the 21st-century activist revival (with movements like Occupy Wall Street, #BlackLivesMatter, #NODAPL, and #MeToo) it is more prescient than ever to acknowledge, examine, and reflect upon both historic and perpetuating inequalities.

If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP here.


Day 1: Thursday, October 10th, 1pm – 7:30pm | The CUNY Graduate Center, Martin E. Segal Theatre 

1:00-1:15pm: Opening Remarks by Caroline L. Gillaspie & Alice J. Walkiewicz

1:15-3:00pm: Indigeneity and Intersectional Ecology

Moderator: Hayes Peter Mauro, Associate Professor, Queensborough Community College, CUNY

Christine Garnier, Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University, “Squaring Silver’s Void: Deforestation and the Mining Photographs of Timothy H. O’Sullivan”

Nathan K. Rees, Assistant Professor, University of West Georgia, “Racializing Resources: The Colonialist Ecology of the Utah State Capitol Murals”

Zoë Colón, Ph.D. Student, University of Delaware, “Material Absence, Relational Presence: Courtney Leonard’s Breach Series and Whales as Medium”

3:00-3:15pm: Coffee Break, sponsored by Pratt Institute

3:15-5:00pm: Extractive Industries and the Environment

Moderator: Katherine E. Manthorne, Professor, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Tara Kaufman, MA, Temple University, “Antarctic Encounters: Perceiving Ecological Change in Frank Wilbert Stokes’s Landscapes”

Eliza Butler, Core Lecturer in Art Humanities, Columbia University, “Tiffany and Company’s Orchid Brooches: Environmental Damage as High Style”

María Beatriz H. Carrión, Ph.D. Student, The Graduate Center, CUNY, “From Lago Agrio to Sour Lake: Pablo Cardoso, Oil Extraction, and Environmental (In)justice in Ecuador”

5:00-6:00pm: Keynote: “Humanitas Literae Fruges: Alexander von Humboldt and the Art of Empire”

Alan C. BraddockRalph H. Wark Associate Professor of Art History and American Studies, William and Mary

After François Gérard, “Humanitas. Literae. Fruges. (Voyage de Humboldt et Bonpland),” engraved frontispiece to Alexander von Humboldt, Atlas géographique et physique du Nouveau Continent (Paris, 1814).

6:00-7:30pm: Reception, Art History Lounge, Room 3408

Day 2: Friday, October 11th, 9:30am-7:30pm | The CUNY Graduate Center, Martin E. Segal Theatre  

9:30-9:45am: Opening Remarks by Caroline L. Gillaspie & Alice J. Walkiewicz 

9:45-11:45am: Agency and Alterity amid Migration and Displacement

Moderator: Maya Jiménez, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY & Pace University

Sandra Cheng, Associate Professor, New York City College of Technology, CUNY, “In Detention: Art and Immigration in the Case of the Golden Venture Refugees”

Michael Hartman, Ph.D. Student, University of Delaware, “Albert Bierstadt’s American West as ‘The Italy of America in a Primitive Condition’”

Joseph Daniel Litts, M.A. Student, University of Delaware, “Weaving Together War and Memory in Isaac Vincent’s Cherokee Basket”

Abigail Lapin Dardashti, Ph.D. Candidate, The Graduate Center, CUNY, “Growing the Rhizome: Mestre Didi, Afro-Brazilian Abstraction, and Transnational Religious Networks, 1964–1988”

11:45-1:15pm: Lunch Break

1:15-3:00pm: (Re)creating Space, Recognizing Absence

Moderator: Anna Indych-López, Professor, City College & The Graduate Center, CUNY

Samantha A. Noel, Assistant Professor of Art History, Wayne State University, “The Artistic Intersections of Belkis Ayón”

Adrian Anagnost, Jessie Poesch Assistant Professor of Art History, Tulane University, “Looters: African Architectures in the Late-Atlantic European Imaginary”

Michaela Rife, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Toronto, “The Great Crop of the West: An Ecocritical Examination of Sugar Beets in the Art of New Deal Colorado”

3:00-3:15pm: Coffee Break, sponsored by Pratt Institute

3:15-5:00pm: Art and Activism

Moderator: Ashley James, Assistant Curator, Brooklyn Museum, & Ph.D. Candidate, Yale University

Greg Lindquist, Artist and Faculty, Pratt Institute and Rhode Island School of Design, “Of Ash and Coal”

Katherine Fein, Ph.D. Student, Columbia University, “From Hand to Hand: Photography, Abolition, and the White Body”

Rebecca Zurier, Associate Professor, University of Michigan, “Detroit’s Black Power Murals: Site and Meaning”

5:00-6:00pm: Keynote: “‘said Negro has been guilty of theft and many misdemeanors’: Fugitive Slave Advertisements as Imperial Infrastructure in late Eighteenth- and early Nineteenth-Century Canada and Jamaica”

Charmaine A. Nelson, Professor of Art History, McGill University

Azariah Pretchard Senr., “RUN away from the Subscriber,” Quebec Gazette, 22 May 1794, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Montreal.

6:00-7:30pm: Reception, Art History Lounge, Room 3408

ABSTRACTS: Click here to view or download the conference paper abstracts.

Click here to view or download the conference poster.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions at unfairtradesconference@gmail.com

This conference is hosted by the Art History Department and co-sponsored by the John Rewald Endowment, the Center for the Humanities, the Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC), the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC), the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality, and the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics (CPCP) at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and Pratt Institute.

This conference is free and open to the public and the venue is wheel-chair accessible.