Art Buzz January 22, 2012: Adele Nelson: Visiting professor speaks on Brazilian art at Southern Methodist University



Visiting professor speaks on Brazilian art at Southern Methodist University

Source: SMU Daily, 1-22-12

On Jan. 19, visiting assistant professor Adele Nelson set an admirable bar for SMU’s first Comini Lecture of the semester.

Nelson’s lecture, “Creating History: The Definition of Modernism at the Second São Paulo Bienal,” featured Brazil’s renowned exhibit, the Bienal from 1953-54, and the recognition it summoned.

“[The Bienal de São Paulo was] a conduit to the international art scene,” Nelson said. “[It] gained international visibility with being the second international exhibit in the Americas.”

The Meadows School of the Arts art history department considered Nelson a fit candidate for their faculty as well as the Comini Lecture Series.

“We are very lucky to have her,” said art history professor and colleague Roberto Tejada. “She brings an intense and deep knowledge of 20th-century Latin American art.”

Nelson’s interesting and stimulating lecture on Thursday showcased her expertise on Brazil’s political position and how it coincided with its modern art exploration.

She emphasized that Brazil found this artistic exploration because Europe was decimated after WWII while Brazil was economically flourishing.

“Brazilian artists have a different history of European modern art,” Nelson said.

Distinguished endowed chair of SMU’s art history department, Roberto Tejada, agrees with Nelson’s argument. “We’re able to talk about European art but from the historical perspective of Latin America,” Tejada said.

As 20th-century Latin American art being one of Tejada’s specialties, he and the department are constantly questioning the term “Latin America.”

However, the SMU faculty definitively has a growing interest in this field.

Professor Nelson is starting her second semester of teaching at SMU.

She has replaced art history professor Amy Buono while professor Buono is on research leave.

Nelson’s specialization in Brazilian studies and Portuguese is not far off from Professor Buono’s studies in Colonial Latin America and the Portuguese Atlantic.

Conversely, Nelson is a modernist and is able to offer SMU students expertise of a different time period.

Interim chair and associate professor Dr. Pamela Patton said, “She augments Dr. Buono’s regular courses.”

Patton believes that Nelson’s three-year curatorial experience at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and her modernist perspective is beneficial for students.

“[Nelson’s knowledge allows Buono’s] students to learn a little more about the same subject,” Patton said.

Also being the subject of her dissertation, Nelson’s lecture on the Bienal de São Paulo sparked passionate interest among the art history faculty on Thursday. Nelson’s thorough analysis on the Bienal de São Paulo’s exhibition in correlation with the architecture designed by Oscar Niemeyer, raised a number of questions from faculty and students.

Professor Patton specifically noted that Nelson’s curatorial experience aids her understanding of how material and texture gave the Bienal de São Paulo’s artwork a presence in the room.

Professor Randall Griffin discussed Brazils’ “utopian project with the Bienal,” adding to Nelson’s lecture.

With the art history department’s newly created Ph.D program, Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture, Nelson’s historical and political resume has proved to be perfectly synced with their curriculum.