Workshop: "Technologies of Reversal: An Exploration of Meaning and Making"

This workshop, organized by Jennifer L. Roberts (Harvard) and Ethan W. Lasser (Harvard) will be the first in a new annual series focusing on processes of making in the fine, decorative, and industrial arts. The workshops will bring together faculty, artists, museum professionals, and graduate students for demonstrations, hands-on exercises, and discussion. Each day will combine instruction in historic techniques with the close analysis of related historic objects. One of the features that will differentiate this workshop from others like it is that it will include time for extensive discussion about the merits of bringing technical and artisanal knowledge into the historical and interpretive disciplines in a conceptually rigorous way.

Rather than focus on a specific medium or type of object, each annual workshop will be organized around a single species of physical operation that cuts across multiple media and can also be evocatively transposed into cultural and theoretical dimensions. This year we will concentrate on "reversal." The workshop will trace processes of rever- sal through printmaking, casting, and contemporary rapid prototyping. What modes of thinking and approaches to materials link these processes? How have makers across time conceptualized the "negative" and how might such modes of "negative intelligence" embody broader cultural beliefs and ideas? What are the implications of reversal's close connection to reproduction? How does reversal engage with problems in symmetry, bodily orientation, and oppositionality?

Each participant will be expected to complete a short list of preliminary readings and to attend all portions of the workshop.

The workshop is organized by Americanists and will focus substantially on American material, but students in all fields are encouraged to apply.

Space will be limited to nine Harvard graduate students in any discipline. To apply please send an e-mail explaining your reasons for wishing to participate in the workshop to both and by 5:00 pm on February 28, 2013.

Sponsored by the American Art Workshop Fund and the Harvard Art Museums.



Monday, May 20

Opening Dinner and Introductions



Tuesday, May 21


With Susan Dackerman, Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Curator of Prints, Harvard Art Museums Matt Saunders, Visiting Lecturer on Visual & Environmental Studies, Harvard University

AM: Printmaking demonstration and session, VES studios

PM: Looking session, Houghton Library

PM: Debriefing and reflection

PM: Dinner


Wednesday, May 22


With Francesca Bewer, Research Curator, Straus Center for Conservation & Technical Studies, Harvard Art Museums Tony Sigel, Conservator of Objects & Sculpture, Straus Center for Conservation & Technical Studies, Harvard Art Museums Wendy Bellion, Associate Professor of Art History, University of Delaware

AM: Casting demonstration, Skylight Studios, Woburn, MA

PM: Looking session, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA

PM: Debriefing and reflection

PM: Dinner


Thursday, May 23


With Azra Aksamija, Assistant Professor, MIT Program in Art, Culture & Technology Skylar Tibbits, Lecturer, Department of Architecture, MIT Amit Zoran, Researcher, MIT Media Lab Smart Cities Group

AM: 3D-Printing / Rapid Prototyping demonstration, MIT Department of Architecture

PM: Final debriefing, workshop conclusion


Monday, May 20, 2013 - 09:00 to Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 17:00