American Portrait Miniatures at the Mead Art Museum, June 18–19, 2009.
Guest Scholar: Robin Jaffee Frank, Yale University Art Gallery.
Overview and Schedule
American Portrait Miniatures at the Mead Art Museum was a two-day seminar focusing on the Mead’s collection of portrait miniatures and related issues of pedagogy. The guest scholar was Dr. Robin Jaffee Frank, Alice and Allan Kaplan Senior Associate Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale University Art Gallery and author of Love and Loss: American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures (New Haven, 2000).
The first day was an object-based session led by Dr. Frank focusing on portrait miniatures in the Mead and in history. The portrait miniature--often watercolor on vellum or ivory--functioned in a more intimate manner than the traditional, large-scale portrait. Its small dimensions precluded a sizable viewing audience, favoring instead one individual who would possess and behold the object within arm’s length. Dr. Frank led discussions about the functions and place of these portraits within American society, both private and public.
The second day focused on the pedagogical possibilities of using these objects within a wide range of disciplines. Susan Anderson, Interim Andrew W. Mellon Coordinator of College Programs, and the Mead staff presented complementary objects in the Mead’s collection, including traditional American portraits, American decorative arts, and daguerreotypes. Participants discussed approaches for teaching with objects in an interactive classroom setting. The seminar concluded with a roundtable discussion allowing participants to share their ideas for how these objects could fit into existing syllabi or inspire new courses.
June 18, 2009
Session 1: Introduction
Discussion topics: Public Displays of Private Devotion; The Making of the Miniature
Session 2: The Flourishing of the American Miniature
Discussion topics: “Not Lost but Gone Before”: The Miniature as a Token of Mourning and the Peale Family Legacy; “Your Very Looks and Person in Miniature on my Heart:” The Miniature as a Token of Love
Session 3: The Miniature in the Public Eye
Discussion topics: The Miniature as a Family Heirloom and Edward Greene Malbone’s Legacy; The Miniature as a Site for Joining Biography and Literary Fiction
Session 4: The Miniature as a Token of Civic Pride
Discussion topics: Officers and Gentlemen: The Miniature as a Symbol of Public Allegiance; Private Faces of Public People: When does a portrait of a public person offer a glimpse into private life?
June 19, 2009
Session 1: Guide to Using the Five College Museums/Historic Deerfield Collections Database
Session 2: Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS): Proven Pedagogy for Engaging Students with Works of Art
Session 3: Practicum: Applying VTS to Objects contextualizing the Mead’s Miniatures
Discussion Topics: The Peale Family at the Mead; Familiar Faces: Portraits of Individuals depicted in the Mead’s Miniatures; Transformed by the Camera: The rise of the Daguerreotype, Ambrotype and Tintype; Memorials and Mourning: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day
Session 4: Roundtable Discussion: Integrating the Mead’s American Portrait Miniatures into Course Curricula
Guest Scholar: Robin Jaffee Frank
Robin Jaffee Frank is the Aliceand Allan Kaplan Senior Associate Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture. She has lectured widely and organized numerous exhibitions. Among her books are Love and Loss: American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures and Charles Demuth Poster Portraits: 1923–1929. Frank co-authored American Daguerreotypes from the Matthew R. Isenburg Collection and contributed to Expressions of Innocence and Eloquence: Selections from the Jane Katcher Collection of Americana and A Private View: American Paintings from the Manoogian Collection. She is also a co-organizer of the traveling exhibition and accompanying publication Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery.
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