The Third Annual Symposium of Latin American Art at the GC and the IFA: Presented by the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art and the Rewald Endowment. Co-sponsored by The Center for the Humanities, CUNY, and the Grey Art Gallery, NYU


Join us for “Super/Natural: Excess, Ecologies, and Art in the Americas,” the Third Annual Symposium of Latin American Art Presented by the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA) and the Rewald Endowment and co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY on Thursday, April 19th at the Graduate Center, CUNY, in the Martin E. Segal Theatre from 2:00pm to 5:30pm (reception immediately following in the James Gallery, 5:30-7:30pm) and on Friday, April 20th at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University from 9:30am- to 7:30pm. Featuring keynote lectures by Daniela Bleichmar, Associate Professor of Art History and History, University of Southern California; and Eduardo Kac, artist and Professor of Art and Technology Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The recent natural disasters, environmental destruction, and mounting scientific evidence for the immediate dangers of climate change throughout the Americas have inspired this year’s symposium theme: Super/Natural. The supernatural is what exceeds nature and what is excessive in nature through the insertion of human or mystic interventions. Super/Natural, however, is not just the otherworldly, but the critical interstices between the human abstraction of nature, the tangible natural world, and that which exists around it.

The complex relationship between humanity and its surrounding environment has been amply explored by artists and peoples in the Americas. Examples include pre-Columbian art and architecture embedded in the landscape, such as the Incan fortress of Sacsayhuaman near Cusco, eighteenth and nineteenth-century traveler artist’s tropical fantasies of the land, and contemporary projects in which the human body intervenes directly in the environment. All of these practices demonstrate artists’ and communities’ preoccupation with contesting the often incomprehensible structure of the natural world. By presenting multidisciplinary case studies from a diverse group of scholars, this symposium seeks to open a conversation about the role of cultural production in understanding and complicating our relationship with the environment. The proceedings will historically situate these narratives while keeping in mind current debates on climate change and sustainability throughout the Americas. In what ways do artists engage with and intervene in nature and the land to create extraordinary perspectives? Under what conditions do spiritual practices related to nature and land become visualized in art? When, if ever, are we forced to intervene in the natural world, and what are the risks of such endeavors?

The symposium is organized by current Ph.D. Candidates Brian BentleyGillian SneedJuanita Solano RoaDanielle Stewart, and Madeline Murphy Turner, Ph.D. Student Horacio Ramos, and M.A. Student Julián Sánchez González; in conjunction with Anna Indych-López,Katherine Manthorne, and Edward J. Sullivan.


Interested in joining the conversation? Please RSVP here.



Thursday, April 19 
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
Martin E. Segal Theatre


2:00-2:30pm  Welcome and Introduction by Gillian Sneed, Ph.D. Candidate in Art History, Graduate Center and Anna Indych-López, Professor of 20th-Century Latin American Art, The Graduate Center and City College, CUNY

2:30-4:00pm Panel 1: Agricultural Imaginaries

-Paper 1: Lesley Wolff, “Mister Watermelon/Señor Sandía: Fruitful Anxieties in Rufino Tamayo’s Naturaleza muerta (1954)”, Ph.D. Candidate, Florida State University

-Paper 2: Javier Rivero Ramos, “Radicalizing Cybernetics: Chilean Nitrate, Talking Forests and Juan Downey’s Ecopolitics,” Ph.D. Candidate, Art and Archaeology, Princeton University

-Paper 3: Caroline Gillaspie, “Harvesting the Tropics: Representing Brazil’s Nineteenth-Century Coffee Plantations,” Ph.D. Candidate, Art History, Graduate Center, CUNY

-Discussant: Katherine Manthorne, Professor of Art of the United States, Latin America, and Their Cross-Currents, 1750-1950, Graduate Center, CUNY

4:00-4:15pm  Coffee Break

4:30-5:30pm Keynote: Daniela Bleichmar, “Natural Histories,” Associate Professor of Art History and History at the University of Southern California

6:00-7:30pm Reception in the James Gallery at the Graduate, Center, CUNY


Friday, April 20
Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
1 East 78th Street, Lecture Hall

9:30 Coffee

10:15-10:25am Introductions by IFA Director  and Professor Christine Poggi, IFA Deputy Director and Professor Edward J. Sullivan, and Ph.D. Candidate Juanita Solano Roa, The Institute of Fine Arts, NYU

10:30-12:00pm Panel 2: Peripatetic Ecologies

-Paper 1: Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra, “Steps for an Ecological Aesthetics,” Junior Research Fellow, Queen’s College, Cambridge

-Paper 2: Kevin Buist, “The Missing Meteorite: The Irreconcilable Subjectivities of People and Rocks,” Master’s Student, Kendall College of Art and Design, Ferris State University

-Paper 3: Emily Sessions, “The White Atlantic of Ramón de la Sagra’s Histoire Physique, Politique et Naturelle de l’Ile de Cuba,” Ph.D. Candidate, History of Art, Yale University

-Discussant: Mariola Alvarez, Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art, Tyler School of Art, Temple University

12:00-1:00pm  LUNCH

1:30-3:00pm  Panel 3: Divine Nature (bilingual panel)

-Paper 1: William T. Gassaway, “On the Edge of Glory: Death, Disease, and Divinity at the Margins of Aztec Art,” Ph.D. Candidate, Art History, Columbia University

-Paper 2: William Contreras Alfonso, “Talismanes – Sculpture as a spiritual tool in the work of Alicia Barney and Linda Pongutá,” Independent artist, critic, and curator, Bogotá, Colombia

-Paper 3: Agustin Díez Fischer, “El Apocalipsis según León Ferrari: condena divina y guerra de Vietnam en los años 60,” Ph.D, Art History, University of Buenos Aires

-Discussant: Ananda Cohen-Aponte, Assistant Professor of the History of Art Department, Cornell University

3:00-3:15pm Coffee break

3:30-5:00pm Panel 4: Extractions and Erosions

-Paper 1: Gabrielle Greenlee, “Natura in Excelsis: Sacred Mountains as Producers of Culture, Wealth, and the Supernatural in the Colonial Andean Mining Space,” Ph.D. Candidate, History of Art and Visual Culture, UC Santa Cruz

-Paper 2: Sean Nesselrode Moncada, “Killing the Well,” Assistant Professor, Department of Theory and History of Art and Design, Rhode Island School of Design

-Paper 3: Marcelo Nogueira, “Sonic Matters: Cildo Meireles’ Sound Sculptures,” Ph.D. Candidate, Romance Studies, Duke University

-Discussant: Rachel Price Associate Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Princeton University

5:00-5:15pm Coffee break

5:30-6:30pm Keynote: Eduardo Kac, Professor, Art and Technology Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

6:30-7:30pm Reception at Institute of Fine Arts, New York University


Click here to see our panelists’ bios and abstracts.


On the 19th, livestreaming can be accessed at:
On the 20th, livestreaming can be accessed at:



The Duke House Exhibition Series brings contemporary art to the walls of the Institute’s landmarked James B. Duke House. (Website in Construction).


Photo Credits: María Magdalena Campos Pons, Bin Bin Lady, The Papaya, 2005. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco