Teaching European Art in Context
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About the Seminar

Critical Making: Knowledge and Art in the Early Modern Globe, c. 1400–1660


CIC is pleased to announce a seminar “Critical Making: Knowledge and Art in the Early Modern Globe, c. 1400–1660,” a seminar for CIC faculty members in art history, the arts, and other disciplines, such as history and English, who incorporate art history in their courses. It will be especially valuable for those at institutions without large campus museums or proximity to major art museums.

The seminar will be held at Oberlin College's Allen Memorial Art Museum June 20-24, 2022. Oberlin College's Christina Neilson, associate professor of Renaissance and Baroque art history and chair of the art history department, Erik Inglis, professor of Medieval art history, and Heather Galloway, fellow of the American Institute of Conservation and founder of Galloway Art Conservation, will lead the seminar that will draw upon the museum's rich collections.

The seminar will approach artworks from the 15th through 17th century from the perspective of their materials and making, including both works produced in Europe, and those produced outside it but for European audiences. Participants will explore the significance of materials in a time, when, for instance, wood was equated to the human body and bronze compared to blood. Working with materials in workshops, laboratories and marketplaces, artisans developed hands-on experiences that paved the way for much of the “higher learning” of the Scientific Revolution. What did artists and viewers know and/or believe about the origins and properties of materials such as ivory, paint, and metal? How did the processes of making objects contribute to the meanings of works of art for their original audiences? The seminar will also consider: the appeal of the unfinished artwork; content thematised through materials and processes; material-specific qualities used to communicate beliefs about nature (such as painting in oil for skin); the value of imitating materials; objects made from mixed media techniques; original sites of display; and objects made across cultures. Pedagogical questions such as how to animate the classroom by addressing materiality and facture and how to find relevant works of art close at hand will also be discussed. The outstanding collections of the Allen Memorial Art Museum and the Mary Church Terrell library at Oberlin College will be the focus of many of these discussions, enriched by conversations with conservators and curators. The seminar will also visit the Cleveland Museum of Art. Participants will also discuss related pedagogical issues—how to animate the classroom by addressing materiality and facture and how to find relevant works of art close at hand.

CIC's seminars on Teaching European Art in Context are made possible with the generous support of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.


Seminar Leaders

Heather Galloway is a Fellow of the American Institute of Conservation and the founder of Galloway Art Conservation. Trained in the conservation of paintings and a specialist in modern and contemporary art, she has taught classes on the history of materials and techniques for the graduate program in art history at Case Western Reserve University and for Oberlin College, as well as teaching cleaning techniques for the University of Oslo’s department of archaeology, conservation, and history.  

Erik Inglis is Mildred C. Jay Professor of Art History at Oberlin, teaching art in Europe and the Mediterranean from c. 0 to c. 1400.  He is currently researching the medieval art historical imagination, that is, how medieval people understood the history of art and architecture despite the absence of a discipline of art history.  His article on the 1534 inventory of the treasury of St. Denis (Art Bulletin, 2016) investigates the material expertise of monks and goldsmiths; he has also published on the medieval understanding of the history of technique.  His earlier publications include Jean Fouquet and the Invention of France (Yale University Press, 2011) and Faces of Power and Piety (J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008).  

Christina Neilson is associate professor of Art History at Oberlin and chair of the department. Her research tackles the relationship between theory and practice, especially the meaning of materials and techniques, primarily in Europe but also in Latin America. Her book, Practice and Theory in the Italian Renaissance Workshop. Verrocchio and the Epistemology of Making Art (Cambridge University Press, 2019), explores the significance of processes of making in the oeuvre of the 15th-century Florentine artist Andrea del Verrocchio. She has also published articles on the meaning of wood in early modern European sculpture and on the concealment and revelation of knowledge in artists' workshops.

​Up to 20 individuals will be selected by competitive nomination. Participants must be full-time faculty members who regularly teach art history and whose institutions are members of the Council of Independent Colleges.

Selection of participants will be announced by May 14, 2021.

Faculty members must be nominated by the chief academic officer of the institution. The nomination should include a letter of support from the institution that emphasizes the nominee’s teaching qualifications and the opportunities they will be given upon returning to campus to use what has been learned in his or her teaching; a statement of reasons for wishing to participate in the seminar and of anticipated outcomes from the faculty member; as well as the faculty member’s CV. All materials must be
submitted online.

The nomination deadline is Friday, February 25, 2022.

Selection of participants will be announced Friday, March 25, 2022.

To submit a nomination online, please refer to the brochure and nomination form:

Important Note on Health and Safety

​CIC is committed to the health and safety of its members and their communities. Following the guidance of our medical advisors, and to create the safest possible environment while offering meaningful opportunities for interaction, CIC now requires that all participants be fully up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. For this purpose, “up to date” means a person has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) as eligible. For some of you, this may mean you will need to receive a booster shot no later than two weeks before the start of the workshop you plan to attend. Current guidance on booster shots can be found on the CDC website.


CIC expects that all participants who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before arriving at the seminar. Please expect to be asked to attest to your vaccination status upon acceptance to  the seminar; closer to the seminar, you will be asked to submit verification. If you have been unable to receive the vaccine for any reason you will need to speak with a member of the CIC staff to complete your registration. 

At the seminar, participants will be expected to contribute to a safe event by respecting all national, local, and venue-specific health guidelines that might be in effect. Updated information about workshop-specific protocols for mask use and distancing will be issued shortly before the event. By attending, participants agree to support their colleagues and communities by complying with all recommendations that are in effect during the workshop, as well as with the CIC Code of Conduct.


Location and Expenses

The Allen Memorial Art Museum is identified as one of the finest college museums in the United States. Its encyclopedic collection has over 14,000 objects, with notable strengths in late medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art of Europe.  Cass Gilbert modelled the original museum building, which opened in 1917, after Renaissance architecture; Robert Venturi’s 1977 addition, houses the Museum’s contemporary gallery and the rich collections of the college’s Clarence Ward Art Library.

There is no seminar fee. Participants’ lodging, books, and most meals will be covered with support from CIC and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Participants or their institutions are expected to cover the cost of transportation to and from the seminar. Please note that spouses and friends are not permitted to stay in the provided housing or to attend the seminar.

Contact Information

​Questions about the seminar should be directed to Stephen Gibson, CIC director of programs, at sgibson@cic.edu or (202) 466-7230.