Kevin Murphy Addresses Environmental Costs of Urban Teardowns

In 2013 alone, more than 500 houses were demolished in Nashville, Tennessee, a sharp increase from previous years. And hundreds of additional teardowns are expected in a city that’s projected to add a million residents over the next two decades.

Nashville is hardly the only North American city to experience a recent wave of teardowns. In Vancouver, a housing and real estate expert reports that the city issued more than 1.000 demolition permits in 2013. She points out that most of the demolitions are of single-family homes, and each send “more than 50 tonnes of waste to landfills.”

While preservationists have long decried the loss of historic fabric and cultural capital through teardowns, the environmental costs of demolition are increasingly coming to the fore. Read more

*Kevin D. Murphy is Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities and Professor and Chair of Department of History of Art at Vanderbilt University. This article originally appeared on The Conversation on July 21, 2015, and was reprinted by Time magazine on July 23.

HART Cosponsors International Symposium on Traditional Chinese Architecture

traditionalchinesearchitecture1A three-day international symposium on traditional Chinese architecture will be held July 23-25 at Vanderbilt University in Cohen Memorial Hall. The aim of the Senior Academics Forum on Traditional Chinese Architectural History is to advance the study of Chinese architectural history and forge connections between scholars of Chinese architecture across the globe.

“The history of Chinese architecture is a young but increasingly vibrant and important field, and forums such as this are vital to furthering the study and ensuring the protection of this important cultural tradition,” said Tracy Miller, associate professor of history of art, who organized and coordinated the event.

Professor Wang Guixiang of Tsinghua University, Beijing, PRC, and Professor Guo Qinghua of the University of Melbourne, Australia, established the forum only three years ago. Their goal was to bring the study of traditional Chinese architecture, the “classical” architecture of pre-modern East Asia, onto the global stage by providing a regular forum for the most active scholars in the field to gather and discuss their current research. Because each scholar is given 30-45 minutes to present his or her material to a small audience of experts, the level of scholarship and open discussion far surpasses the experience at larger conferences. The first of the meetings was held in October 2012 at the University of Melbourne and the second in December 2013 at Kinki University in Osaka, Japan.

To ensure that the results of the forum have an extended scholarly reach, the best essays presented will be considered for publication in the peer-reviewed Journal of Chinese Architecture History (Zhongguo jianzhu shilun huikan) published by Tsinghua University, who is the official co-organizer of the forum. Other sponsors are Vanderbilt University, College of Arts and Science, Department of History of Art, Asian Studies Program, Office of Arts and Campus Events, and Fine Arts Gallery.

traditionalchinesearchitecture2This year in addition to the forum there will be an exhibition of 100 photographs from the “Snow Draft Ingenuity in Craft: Traditional Chinese Architecture Photography Competition「雪花純生匠心營造」中國古建築攝影大賽.” Examples from each of the eight competition categories will be on view from July 22-31 on the first and second floors of Cohen Memorial Hall, the Sarratt Student Center box office, and the atrium of Buttrick Hall.

Viewing hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 pm; Saturday (Cohen Hall only), 1-5 p.m.; closed Sunday.
The exhibit is sponsored by China Resources Snow Breweries and Tsinghua University School of Architecture, Beijing, and Vanderbilt’s Department of History of Art, Office of Arts & Campus Events, and Fine Arts Gallery.

For more information on the forum and photography exhibition, see the forum website:

*Both images are examples from the “vernacular architecture” division of the Snow Breweries competition.

Betsey Robinson Organizes Symposium Held July 15-16 in Athens

fountainofpeireneWater Cult & Culture in the Mediterranean World of the First Millennium BCE, an international symposium coordinated by Betsey Robinson, associate professor of history of art, will be held July 15-16 at the American School of Classical Studies and the École française in Athens, Greece. The symposium is the first of several events sponsored by HYDRΩMED: Gestion des ressources en eau en Méditerranée pendant le 1er millénaire avant notre ère, an international research network funded by A*MIDEX, the Aix-Marseille University Foundation, and chaired by Sophie Bouffier, a professor of Greek history at Aix-Marseille University, Aix-en-Provence, France.

“Water is a precious and limited resource around the Mediterranean, and in antiquity it was carefully stewarded and its sources revered,” said Robinson. Symposium presentations on water in ancient cult will explore archaeological evidence of ritual practices at springs, the water-use in sanctuaries, and the role of water in the healing rites of Asklepios and early Greek medicine. Cultural topics include the representation of Nymphs in Greek art, the poetic use of water to articulate geography, ethnicity, and identity, and its propagandistic value in pan-Mediterranean politics.

Symposium participants:
A. Androvitsanea, Technische Universität Berlin
Hydraulic Installations at the Sanctuary of Amphiaraos
S. Barfoed, University of Kent / Danish Institute at Athens
The Nymph Nemea and Water Supply to the Archaic Sanctuary of Zeus
O. Belvedere and S. Vassallo, Università degli Studi di Palermo and Soprintendenza di Palermo
Le acque calde imeresi, tra mito e storia: da Himera a Thermai Himeraiai
ArethusaS. Bouffier, Aix-Marseille Université
Arethusa and Cyane, Nymphs and Springs in Syracuse: Between Greece and Sicily
O. Dakoura-Vogiatzoglou, First Ephorate of Athens
Searching the Water at the Sanctuaries of the Western Hills
M. Dourou, Ephorate of Athens
The Sanctuary of the Nymphs and Demos: Evidence of the Recent Research
I. Fumadó Ortega, Aix-Marseille Université
Flux et reflux religieux en Méditerranée phénicienne et punique: L’eau, instrument
de propagande idéologique et politique

J. Hopkins, Rice University
Shifting Currents: A Reflexive Etiology of Hydraulic Exploitation and Urban Cohesion in
Early Rome

T. Kopestonsky, University of Tennessee
Offerings and Ritual at Corinthian Springs
B. Robinson, Vanderbilt University
Places and Poetics, Figures and Narratives
A. Stewart, University of California, Berkeley
Bathing Beauties: An Early Hellenistic Bronze Case-Mirror from Elis
J. Wiseman, Boston University
A Greek-Period Bath and Fountain Complex at the Northern Edge of Corinth
B. Wickkiser, Wabash College
‘Water is Cold and Wet’—Some Reflections on Water in Early Greek Medicine & the Cult
of Asklepios

Vanderbilt’s Department of History of Art, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and the École française d’Athènes join A*MIDEX and Aix-Marseille University in hosting the Athens symposium. Subsequent HYDRΩMED gatherings will address geomorphology and hydrology, the engineering of water catchment and transport systems, and the history of water management around the Mediterranean before the Roman Imperial period.

For more information, see

*Images courtesy of HYDRΩMED: The Fountain of Peirene at Corinth (above) and The Spring of Arethusa at Syracuse (below)

Gallery Exhibit Features Vintage Circus Posters, Sideshow Banners

circusposterExperience the excitement of the circus this summer with Thrills & Chills! The Fantastic World of the American Circus at the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery. Posters that advertised circus acts and banners giving a teaser to the wonders of sideshows are as colorful as the spectacles they promise and the true focus of this summer’s festive exhibition, which will remain on view in Cohen Memorial Hall until September 4.

The exhibition is free and open to the public, and summer gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 12-4 p.m.; Saturday 1-5 p.m.; and closed Sunday and Monday. Beginning Wednesday, August 26, the gallery will assume academic year hours: Monday through Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 1-5 p.m. The Fine Arts Gallery is located in Cohen Memorial Hall, 1220 21st Avenue South, on the western edge of the Peabody College campus.

Thrills & Chills! The Fantastic World of the American Circus is organized by the Fine Arts Gallery and curated by Joseph Mella, director, and Margaret Walker, art curator assistant.

Department to Honor HART Graduates at Reception on May 7

cohen-thumbHistory of Art majors and minors and their families and friends are invited to attend the department’s reception for our graduating seniors on Thursday, May 7, from 2 to 4 pm. The event will be held in the atrium of Cohen Memorial Hall on the Peabody campus, and awards will be presented at 3 pm.

Graduates and their families attending the reception are also invited to view the current exhibits in the Fine Arts Gallery near the atrium from noon to 4:00 p.m. Drawing on the combined resources of the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery, the Eskind Biomedical Library Special Collections, local museums, and several private collections, the exhibit, entitled “Memento Mori: Looking at Death in Art and Illustration,” will be on view through May 23.
It features multiple perspectives on the nature of death and our attempts to memorialize the dead in order to give meaning to their lives.

“Up Close and Personal: Intimate Devotions and Everyday Objects in Late Antiquity,” an exhibition curated by Vanderbilt students that explores the devotional traditions of individuals who practiced Judaism, Christianity and Roman religions from the first century BCE to the seventh century CE, opens Thursday, May 7, in conjunction with the HART awards ceremony and celebration of graduates. This exhibit will be on view through September 4.

The gallery will also be open on Commencement Day (Friday, May 8) from noon to 4 pm, and Saturday, May 9, from 1 to 5 pm. Gallery hours for the summer are Tuesday-Friday, noon to 4 pm; Saturday, 1-5 pm. The gallery will be closed on Sundays and Mondays and on Saturday, July 4.