History of Art and Architecture


Related tags

monuments and memory

communities and polities






We live in a world awash in identities and identity politics.  It is hardly surprising that we think art can enact, create, and modify individual and collective identities.  In this constellation we subject this idea to historical scrutiny and theoretical analysis.  We investigate the role of art in the formation and imagination of polities and communities, and how these cross-cut with notions of race, class, gender, religion, nationality, and ethnicity.  Areas of inquiry range from the “official” or authoritative realm of monuments and historical memory to the more micro-domains of self-fashioning and individual personae.

Identity has been very active in exhibitions and field trips, generating exhibitions within the department such as “This Is Not Ideal” (2018), organized by Alex Taylor with Museum Studies exhibition seminar students, and “Movements” (2019), curated by Hot Metal Bridge fellow Leslie Rose. It has also provided a springboard for graduate student scholarship, such as the catalogue for “This Is Not Ideal,” which featured interviews and essays crafted by graduate students.  Identity has supported local field trips to sites like Carrie Furnace, Rivers of Steel, and the Andy Warhol Museum, as well as journeys further afield, such as a trip to Buffalo to see “We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women, ’65-’85” (Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 2018).  It also provided the conceptual foundation for Operating Identity, a 2016 symposium organized by HAA graduate students, acted as a touchstone for activity within Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh , and provided a forum for events with our own faculty and graduate students as well as invited external speakers.  Identity is currently co-organizing with the Mobility/Exchange constellation a reading group on human migration in the premodern world, which will culminate in a field trip to Toronto to see the exhibition Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa at the Aga Khan Museum.