Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Women Modernists in Mexico (1930-1950)
Monday, Wednesday: 11:00-12:30pm
This course focuses on the art of women artists working in Mexico during the modern era. Many of these artists led complex, international lives, but most of their names remain unknown in the broad field of art history (and the more narrow field of modern art history). They participated in artistic movements that shaped modernism, both in Mexico and abroad, so why don’t we hear Remedios Varo’s name alongside Salvador Dalí’s when we study Surrealism? Or Lola Alvarez Bravo’s alongside Man Ray’s when we study photography? How might studying these women artists change the way we understand the major movements in which they were involved, at both local and global scales? Dominant accounts of Mexican modern art center men—their work, voices, and perspectives—but we know women were also operating in these circles, participating in visual and verbal dialogue with each other, their male counterparts, and the rest of the world. In this course, we will seek out their voices; we will ask questions of their work; we will interrogate the ideologies of the movements they participated in, and their roles in shaping those movements; and we will begin to chart a narrative of Mexican modernism more aligned with the lived experience of that era.
This course satisfies the second semester Reading and Composition (R&C) requirement. Through your close reading of scholarly texts and close looking at art objects over the course of the semester, you will hone your critical reading and writing skills. In the first half of the semester, you will be tasked with completing regular analyses of images and/or texts in short essay format. This exercise will cultivate the necessary skills to isolate a topic and develop your final research paper (10-12 pages). In this paper, you will craft an historical argument about a woman modern artist in Mexico, a particular artistic movement in which women modernists participated, or a specific artistic medium chosen by one or more of these artists.