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The Art of Conversion

Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo

Cécile Fromont

Between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries, the west central African kingdom of Kongo practiced Christianity and actively participated in the Atlantic world as an independent, cosmopolitan realm. Drawing on an expansive and largely unpublished set of objects, images, and documents, Fromont examines the advent of Kongo Christian visual culture and traces its development across four centuries marked by war, the Atlantic slave trade, and, finally, the rise of nineteenth-century European colonialism. By offering an extensive analysis of the religious, political, and artistic innovations through which the Kongo embraced Christianity, Fromont approaches the country's conversion as a dynamic process that unfolded across centuries.

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The Art of Eastern India, 300-800

Frederick M. Asher

The Art of Eastern India, 300–800 was first published in 1980. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Though scholars have extensive knowledge of the art that flourished during Pala rule in Eastern India (ca. 800-1200), little is known about Eastern Indian art during the preceding 500 years. This half-millennium includes the period of the Gupta dynasty and the two centuries that bridge Gupta and Pala rule, when no single dynasty long maintained control of Eastern India. In this study, Frederick M. Asher challenges arthistorical assumptions about Pala art — that it is a new school virtually without links to earlier art 00 by demonstrating that sculpture during the Gupta period and the subsequent three centuries evolved along lines that connect it with Pala art. In so doing, he draws attention to important sculptures, most of them never previously studied, that tell us not only about an unexplored period in Indian art but also about broader aspects of the cultural history and geography of Eastern India.

Asher's work is based on field research in Bihar, West Bengal, and Bangladesh. There he gave special attention to the sites of once-flourishing Buddhist monasteries and to Hindu images still worshipped in village India. The author's photographs of the bronze, terra cotta, and stone sculptures, and his detailed text, provide a virtual catalogue raisonne of the known works of the period.

Asher's analyses of the images and his attributions of dates to them are based upon close attention to artistic style and iconography, and the study of dynastic and social history, contemporary travelers' reports, and religious history. Drawing together these diverse strands of information, he describes the evolution of art forms over a long period in which there was little apparent historic unity. John M. Rosenfield, professor of art history at Harvard University and author of The Art of the Kushans, says, of The Art of Eastern India,"The scholarship is scrupulously detailed and careful . . . [The book] is in the finest tradition of classical scholarship, and will be consulted or several generations."

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The Art of Ellis Wilson

Albert Sperath, Margaret R. Vendryes, Steven H. Jones, and Eva King

From the tobacco fields of western Kentucky to the streets of Harlem, from the Gullah Islands off the South Carolina and Georgia coasts to the all-black republic of Haiti, painter Ellis Wilson (1899-1977) examined the scope and depth of black culture.

One of Kentucky's most significant African American artists, Wilson graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1923. He spent five more years in the city before moving to New York, where he lived for the rest of his life. Aside from his participation in the WPA's Federal Arts Project and a Guggenheim Fellowship, he was never able to support himself fully by painting. Yet his work has long been praised for its boldness and individuality. Black workers were a favorite subject: field hands, factory workers, loggers, fishermen, and more.

Of his 1940s series of black factory employees, Wilson stated, "That was the first time I had ever seen my people working in industry, so I painted them." Over time his documentary style gave way to one that emphasized shape and color over pure representation. Despite exhibitions in New York and elsewhere, Wilson considered a small show at the public library in his hometown of Mayfield in 1947 to be "one of the high points" of his life. This catalog accompanies the first major retrospective of Wilson's paintings.

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The Art of George Ames Aldrich

with contributions by Gregg Hertzlieb and Michael Wright. Wendy Greenhouse

A highly regarded impressionist-style artist, George Ames Aldrich drew on his years of experience living and studying in Europe to create beautiful landscape paintings. His life and work are explored in this gorgeous book. Many of the artist's finest creations, some representing French subjects and others depicting the midwestern steel industry and American landscapes, are included in this book. It features color reproductions, along with other archival and contextual images. Essays by Michael Wright and Wendy Greenhouse explore in detail Aldrich's life, influences, sources of inspiration, and art historical context. Exploiting a wide variety of sources, Wright and Greenhouse have discovered exciting new information about the artist and his times.

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The Art of Loving Krishna

Ornamentation and Devotion

Cynthia Packert

Since ancient times, Hindus have expressed their love and devotion to their deities through beautiful ornamentation -- dressing and decorating the deities with elaborate clothing, jewelry, and flowers. In this pioneering study of temples in Vrindaban and Jaipur, India, Cynthia Packert takes readers across temple thresholds and into the god Krishna's sacred domain. She describes what devotees see when they behold gorgeously attired representations of the god and why these images look the way they do. She discusses new media as well as global forms of devotion popular in India and abroad. The Art of Loving Krishna opens a universe of meaning in which art, religious action, and devotion are dynamically intertwined.

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The Art of Memory

Historic Cemeteries of Grand Rapids, Michigan

Thomas R. Dilley

In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, the look and feel of cemeteries in the United States changed dramatically, from utilitarian burial grounds to the serene park-like spaces that we know today. The so-called park cemetery was innovative not only for its distinctive landscape architecture but also because, for the first time, its staff took on the tasks of designing, running, and maintaining the cemetery itself, leading to a very consistent appearance. By the mid-1800s, the influence of park cemeteries began to spread from big cities on the east coast to the Midwest—eventually producing fifteen transitional examples in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In The Art of Memory: Historic Cemeteries of Grand Rapids, Michigan Thomas R. Dilley details the history of Grand Rapids’ park cemeteries, finding that their development mimicked national trends and changing cultural beliefs about honoring the dead. Dilley begins by outlining the history and evolution of cemetery design from its earliest days to present, including information about key design elements and descriptions of important designers. He continues by introducing readers to the fifteen historic cemeteries located in the city of Grand Rapids, detailing their histories, formats, and developmental changes along with more than two hundred photos. The cemeteries are divided between public and private properties, and are discussed chronologically, according to the dates of their founding. Dilley also considers the artistic and architectural forms that appear in the Grand Rapids cemeteries, including a thorough discussion of the religious and decorative symbols used on markers, the use of sometimes florid epitaphs, and variations in the form, structure, and materials of cemetery markers of the time. A brief section on the future of the cemetery and an extensive list of bibliographic sources and suggestions for further reading round out this informative volume. Readers with roots in Grand Rapids as well as those interested in social and cultural history will enjoy The Art of Memory.

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The Art of Professing in Bourbon Mexico

Crowned-Nun Portraits and Reform in the Convent

By James M. Córdova

Offering a pioneering interpretation of the “crowned nun” portrait, this book explores how visual culture contributed to local identity formation at a time when the colonial Church instituted major reforms that radically changed the face of New Spain’s convents and religious character.

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Art, Peace, and Transcendence

Réograms That Elevate and Unite

Paul Ré

American artist Paul Ré invites us to join him on his journey for harmony, wisdom, and inner joy with Art, Peace, and Transcendence. His hybrid hand-digital prints, Réograms, are a unique art form very different from the Rayograms made in the twentieth century by the American Surrealist Man Ray. Ré’s digital prints are computer manipulations of the drawings, paintings, and sculpture he has created over his forty-year career—the transformations may be mild or dramatic, each manually massaged into a harmonious whole. Commentary by the artist, drawing from his background in physics, philosophy, and the practice of yoga and meditation, accompanies the fifty-eight full-page plates, placing each piece in its historical context. Bridging the lines of art and science, Ré takes us on a discovery of our oneness with the whole of the universe and the source from which it emerged.

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Art Quilts the Midwest

Linzee Kull McCray

A milestone in perception occurred in 1971, when the Whitney Museum of American Art displayed quilts in a museum setting: Abstract Design in American Quilts bestowed institutional recognition of the artistry inherent in these humble textiles. In subsequent decades, quilting’s popularity exploded. Some who took up quilting created pieced quilts that honored traditional patterns, symmetry, and repetition. But others saw the potential for pushing beyond patchwork, giving birth to the art quilt. Today, adherents from both art and quilting backgrounds incorporate storytelling, digital images, nonfabric materials, asymmetry, and three dimensions—in short, anything goes in the world of art quilting, as long as the result is stitched, layered, and not primarily functional.

As a writer covering textiles, art, and craft, Linzee Kull McCray wondered just how deeply fiber artists were influenced by their surroundings. Focusing on midwestern art quilters in particular, she put out a call for entries and nearly 100 artists responded; they were free to define those aspects of midwesterness that most affected their work. The artists selected for inclusion in this book embrace the Midwest’s climate, land, people, and culture, and if they don’t always embrace it wholeheartedly, then they use their art to react to it. The proof can be seen in the varied, powerful quilts in this energizing book.

Enlivened by the Midwest’s landscapes and seasons, Sally Bowker paints her fabrics with acrylics, creating marks and meaning with layers of hand stitching and appliqued bits of fabric. Shin-hee Chin uses sketchlike stitching for its ability to penetrate fabric and create depth; living in the Midwest helps her stay balanced between eastern philosophy and western culture. The metals and mesh that Diane Núñez incorporates into her quilts connect to her days as a jeweler as well as to the topography of her home state of Michigan. Pat Owoc prepares papers with disperse dyes, then selects from as many as 150 to create her fabrics; her art-quilt series honors midwestern pioneers. Martha Warshaw photographs old fabrics, tweaks the images in Photoshop, and prints the results for her pieces, which connect her to the legacy of quilting in past generations.

The Midwest has always had strong textile communities. Now the twenty artists featured in this beautifully illustrated book have created a new community of original art forms that bring new life to an old tradition.

The Artists
Marilyn Ampe, St. Paul, Minnesota
Gail Baar, Buffalo Grove, Illinois
Sally Bowker, Cornucopia, Wisconsin
Peggy Brown, Nashville, Indiana
Shelly Burge, Lincoln, Nebraska
Shin-hee Chin, McPherson, Kansas
Sandra Palmer Ciolino, Cincinnati, Ohio
Jacquelyn Gering, Chicago, Illinois
Kate Gorman, Westerville, Ohio
Donna Katz, Chicago, Illinois
Beth Markel, Rochester Hills, Michigan
Diane Núñez, Southfield, Michigan
Pat Owoc, St. Louis, Missouri
BJ Parady, Batavia, Illinois
Bonnie Peterson, Houghton, Michigan
Luanne Rimel, St. Louis, Missouri
Barbara Schneider, Woodstock, Illinois
Susan Shie, Wooster, Ohio
Martha Warshaw, Cincinnati, Ohio
Erick Wolfmeyer, Iowa City, Iowa

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Art, Religion, and Politics in Medieval China

The Dunhuang Cave of the Zhai Family

Qiang Ning

The cave-temple complex popularly known as the Dunhuang caves is the world’s largest extant repository of Tang Buddhist art. Among the best preserved of the Dunhuang caves is the Zhai Family Cave, built in 642. It is this remarkable cave-temple that forms the focus of Ning Qiang’s cross-disciplinary exploration of the interrelationship of art, religion, and politics during the Tang. The author combines, in his careful examination of the paintings and sculptures found there, the historical study of pictures with the pictorial study of history. By employing this two-fold approach, he is able to refer to textual evidence in interpreting the formal features of the cave temple paintings and to employ visual details to fill in the historical gaps inevitably left by text-oriented scholars. The result is a comprehensive analysis of the visual culture of the period and a vivid description of social life in medieval China. The original Zhai Family Cave pictures were painted over in the tenth century and remained hidden until the early 1940s. Once exposed, the early artwork appeared fresh and colorful in comparison with other Tang paintings at Dunhuang. The relatively fine condition of the Zhai Family Cave is crucial to our understanding of the original pictorial program found there and offers a unique opportunity to investigate the visual details of the original paintings and sculptures in the cave. At the same time, the remaining traces of reconstruction and redecoration provide a new perspective on how, for over three centuries, a wealthy Chinese clan used its familial cave as a political showcase.

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