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Walt Kuhn (American, 1877–1949), Still Life with Red Bananas (also known as Red Bananas in an Iron Dish), 1941. Oil on canvas, 20 1/8 x 24 3/16 inches. Collection of Robert B. Ekelund Jr.
Writer: Eva Berlin,
Contact: Michael Lachowski, 706-542-9078,

Georgia Museum of Art to host young scholars’ symposium on art and diplomacy

Athens, Ga.—The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia will host an emerging scholars symposium, “While Silent, They Speak: Art and Diplomacy,” March 28–29. Organized by the Association of Graduate Art Students (AGAS) at UGA, the symposium will be held in conjunction with the exhibition “Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy.” The symposium and associated events are free and open to the public. 

The theme of the symposium expands the scope of the exhibition, which focuses on a 1940s U.S. State Department project that assembled a traveling exhibition of modern American art, by addressing the broader theme of diplomacy throughout the history of visual and material culture. The visual arts have been used to promote and facilitate diplomatic agendas, yet they have also challenged or impeded diplomatic efforts. Through the process of crosscultural exchange, an object or image may shift in value and meaning, thereby illuminating, obscuring or reinforcing cultural differences.

Cynthia Schneider, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, will deliver the keynote address at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 28. A reception will follow in the museum lobby. 

Schneider is the former U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands. She also worked as assistant curator of European paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston from 1980 to 1984 and as associate professor of art history at Georgetown from 1984 to 1990. In 2006, she became Senior Non-Resident Fellow and Coordinator of the Arts and Culture Initiative of Brookings Institution at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

UGA graduate students Sandy McCain, Erin Dunn and Brooke Leeton have worked as cochairs to organize the symposium. McCain said, “This event grows out of an exciting new partnership between UGA’s Association of Graduate Art Students and the Georgia Museum of Art. It is the first of a series of biennial symposia that will continue to strengthen this partnership, while fostering a learning environment in which emerging scholars come together and grapple with issues confronting art historians today.”

The schedule for Saturday, March 29, with presentations beginning at 8:30 a.m., features nine emerging scholars speaking on topics including international support during the Spanish Civil War, 1950s Soviet-American cultural exchange, fear-driven artistic diplomacy in Eugène Delacroix’s work, a defunct musical diplomacy initiative and Franco-American artistic diplomacy on the eve of World War II. The presenters include Linnea West, master’s student at UGA, as well as scholars traveling from New York University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Iowa and University College, London.

The exhibition, accompanying catalogue, educational programs, and national tour of “Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy” are made possible by grants from the Henry Luce Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius.
Note to editors: High resolution images are available; contact Michael Lachowski.
Museum Information
Partial support for the exhibitions and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the University of Georgia Foundation. The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on the East Campus of the University of Georgia. The address is 90 Carlton St., University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 30602- 6719. For more information, including hours, see or call 706-542-4662.
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