Moving Women, Moving Objects (300–1500), ICMA Sponsored Session, 103rd CAA Annual Conference, New York, February 11–14, 2015
Session chairs: Tracy Chapman Hamilton (Sweet Briar College) and Mariah Proctor-Tiffany (California State University)
As we examine medieval works of art like manuscripts, reliquaries, and jewels, today anchored and spotlighted in their museum vitrines, it is easy to imagine these sumptuous objects at rest in the hands of their original owners. But, in truth, they were in constant motion, and women were especially responsible for the movement of these works of art. This panel seeks to enrich the discussion of women and their relationships with their objects that, in the area of non-book arts, remains relatively unexplored. Luscious objects were gifts that traveled lesser and greater distances, some imported in brides’ nuptial coffers and many more commissioned and used to unite women separated by their politically advantageous marriages. Sisters and mothers, grandmothers and aunts, daughters and cousins, as well as friends and allies, all exchanged works of art with shared stories and iconographies. These pieces were the tokens that served as tribute, the centerpieces of rituals and ceremonies, the precious keepsakes enjoyed in intimate places, and the markers of architectural spaces often also founded or endowed by these women.
Theories of feminism, anthropology, sociology, and geography, among others, can all aid in the interpretation of the movement of works of art by women. New technologies such as GIS mapping and digital modeling enable us to visualize the international trajectories of works of art, as well as the movement and placement of them within architectural space.
Proposals for this panel could include papers concerning women living between 300–1500. While proposals discussing European examples are anticipated, those analyzing any culture are encouraged. Papers might discuss women moving their objects in ritual space; the international, cross-cultural fertilization of the arts resulting from women’s gifts; the mapping of women’s identity through placement of objects; or class and women’s movement of their objects.