Teaching European Art in Context 6/18/2023 6/18/2023 6/18/20236/23/20236/23/20236/23/2023 Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Memphis, TN
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About the Seminar

Power and Absence: Connecting Renaissance Art to Diverse Audiences


CIC is pleased to announce “Power and Absence: Connecting Renaissance Art to Diverse Audiences," 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 the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, Tennessee, June 18-23, 2023. Victor Coonin, professor of art and art history at Rhodes College, will lead the seminar that will draw upon the museum's rich collections.

This seminar will explore representations of difference in European art, ca. 1400–1700. Participants will investigate how to foster classroom and community dialogues that increase empathy and foster greater understanding of the historical power of art to affect different audiences in different ways. One focus will be on historical depictions of men, traditionally shown in roles of power and authority, and women, conventionally assumed to be objectified and disempowered. Women artists and the barriers that have hindered their expression will be highlighted. The presence, absence, and marginalization of persons of non-European descent in Western European art will  be explored, as will the ways the study of historical historical change might suggest bridges to the present.  The seminar will include special access to the collection of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, which is particularly rich in Kress paintings, as well as a tour of the National Civil Rights Museum. Experts from Memphis institutions will share their experiences exhibiting  cultural artifacts while addressing diverse audiences.

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


Seminar Leader

Victor Coonin is professor of art and art history at Rhodes College, specializing in the field of Italian Renaissance Art. He is the author of two books, Donatello and the Dawn of Resnaissance Art (2019) and From Marble to Flesh: The Biography of Michaelangelo's David (2014). Professor Coonin’s articles cover a wide variety of subjects, including issues of gender and sexuality prompted by a drawing by Michelangelo, the important role of women in the iconography of the Portinari Altarpiece, one of the most important Northern Renaissance paintings, and focused research on various aspects of Michelangelo, Donatello, Desiderio da Settignano, Vittorio Ghiberti, and other Renaissance artists.

​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 February 23, 2023.

How to Apply

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, January 20, 2023.

Selection of participants will be announced Friday, February 23, 2023.

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

Located at the heart of Memphis in historic Overton Park, the Brooks is a vibrant cultural complex that comprises 29 galleries, two art classrooms, a print study room, and research library. In 1913, Bessie Vance Brooks donated $100,000 to the City of Memphis for the construction of a museum in honor of her late husband, Samuel Hamilton Brooks. The Brooks Memorial Art Gallery opened to the public in 1916. The museum was enlarged in 1955 to secure a gift of thirty-two objects from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. To accommodate the continuing growth of the permanent collection, a further expansion was completed in 1973. In 1983, the institution’s name was changed to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. The final, award-winning addition, which replaced the 1955 wing, opened in 1989. The museum's collections have grown to over 10,000 works of art and continues to fulfill the purpose of its founder, Bessie Vance Brooks, as a “repository, conservatory, and museum of art . . . for the enjoyment, inspiration, and instruction of our people.”


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, friends, and pets 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.