“Diagrams: Materials and Methods” Junior Fellow Symposium

Date: 6 May 2022
Time: 2:00–3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Zoom
Presented by: The Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography

Rare Book School’s Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography (SoFCB) and the University of Houston School of Art’s Program in Art History invite you to attend a panel discussion about diagrams, materials, and methods.

Simplified, schematic, abstract. Diagrammatic representation offers an attenuated impression of the physical world. Yet diagrams are themselves physical artifacts—manufactured objects with a material history that has informed their production, use, and interpretation. Bringing together scholars and artists whose work engages the material history of the diagram, this panel explores the tension between abstraction and materiality at the heart of every diagrammatic practice. A series of object-focused case studies from the early modern period to the present will ground a collective discussion about the shifting material, visual, and semiotic qualities of diagrams drawn from differing contexts over time, as well as about available theoretical approaches for understanding diagrams and the epistemologies they capture.

This event was held via Zoom on 6 May 2022. See below for a link to the YouTube recording. 


Elizabeth Bacon Eager is Assistant Professor of Art History at Southern Methodist University, where her teaching encompasses the history of early American art and material culture, architectural history, print history, and the global nineteenth century. She specializes in the transatlantic history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art and material culture, with a focus on intersections between art, science, and technology. Elizabeth is a postdoctoral fellow at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, where she is completing her first book manuscript, The Technology of Drawing: Image and Industry in Early America. Examining the tools, techniques, and materials of drawing practice in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, this project charts the emergence of drawing (and its unique ways of thinking and knowing) as an essential technology of modern industry.

Mimi Gellman is an Ashkenazi/Anishinaabe/Métis visual artist, designer, and educator with a multi-streamed practice in architectural glass, drawing and painting, and conceptual installation. Her family hails from Rat River Settlement, Manitoba, and she sits with the Medewewe (Rattlesnake) Clan. She is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Culture and Community at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Mimi’s interdisciplinary work explores phenomenology and technologies of intuition through an embodied practice of walking and mapping and through works and installations that point to the animacy and agency of objects. The cross-cultural dialogue exemplified in her work brings forward decolonial aesthetic perspectives and suggests a preexisting connection to the other-than-human worlds. It is her cosmological orientation (her Ojibway/Métis worldview and the language that expresses it) that predisposes her to be open to the reality of the spirit and life of objects and their ability to communicate across diverse thresholds. She continues to exhibit internationally, with recent exhibitions in France, Germany, and Tokyo, and was included in the seminal exhibition, “On Line: Drawing and Film” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2011. Her work can be found in the collections of Price-Waterhouse, Kraft/General Foods, the Toronto Transit Commission, Rogers Stadium, and many others.

Nydia Pineda de Ávila is Assistant Professor in the Department of History and the Science Studies Program at the University of California, San Diego, and is the Fletcher Jones Fellow at the Huntington Library. She has been an invited scholar at the John Carter Brown Library, where she co-curated the digital exhibition Constellations: Reimagining Celestial Histories in the Early Americas with Thomas Haddad. Nydia works at the intersection of the history of science, history of the book, and visual studies, and her research broadly interrogates the gap between practice, theory, and representation in images of space and time in early modernity. She is completing a book manuscript that reveals the changing values of moon maps as visual experiments, technical instruments, and commodities in the early phases of the development of the telescope. Interdisciplinary collaboration is central to her research methodology. She is engaged in the construction of a knowledge base of astronomical images and a data visualization project with a historian of science in Brazil and computer scientists and designers in Mexico. She is also the initiator and coordinator of the international and interdisciplinary documentary project “American Skies” with members in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, the United States, Britain, and Italy.

Trevor Stark is Assistant Professor of Art History in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Calgary. He is the author of Total Expansion of the Letter: Avant-Garde Art and Language after Mallarmé (MIT Press/October Books, 2020). Trevor completed his Ph.D. in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. He recently coedited with Rachel Silveri a special issue of Selva: A Journal of the History of Art on “Reactionary Art Histories” (Fall 2020). Trevor’s current book research on Dada and social rationalization is funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant. His writing has appeared in journals including Art History, October, Texte zur Kunst, and The Burlington Magazine


Natilee Harren is a scholar of modern and contemporary art history and theory with a particular focus on the material and conceptual entanglements of experimental, interdisciplinary practices after 1960. She is the author of Fluxus Forms: Scores, Multiples, and the Eternal Network (University of Chicago Press, 2020) and Karl Haendel: Knight’s Heritage (LAXART, 2017). She is a Junior Fellow of the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School and currently serves as Associate Professor and Program Chair of Art History at the University of Houston School of Art.

You are invited to watch the May 2022 recording of the event below via our RBS YouTube channel.