Thursday, July 10, 2014

Nancy Austin CV on Design Education for Women & the History of RISD


Design Schools for Women were the STEAM innovation of the 19th century. 

These historical voices are muted still in 2014.

Recent Presentations, 2009-2011
[NYC, DC, Providence, Miami, Florence Italy]

2011: “The Utopian Promise of 19th c. Design Schools for Women”

Trade School/OurGoods collaboration at the Whitney Museum of Art




"Between 1848 and 1852, the first three design schools in America were opened by women for women in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. More cities founded design schools for both men and women in the years and decades that followed. This Trade School class starts with a talk about what this transformative design school movement meant for First Wave women, and for the next generation of women like Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875-1942) who became a sculptor and later founded the Whitney Museum. We will then transitions into a group discussion of how this history might inform the education of today’s artists and designers. For example, how can we best mentor one another towards subjective, creative, and economic freedom?"








2010: “First Wave Feminism and the Ecology of Culture in RI”
First Annual Feminist Art History Conference in Honor of Norma Brode, American University



2010: "Thomas Tefft's Plans for an Art Museum and Design School"
Guest Curator,  Providence Athenaeum





2009: “Women and Social Entrepreneurship in American Design Education, 1848 – Now”
International IDSA [Industrial Designers’ Society of America] Annual Conference, Miami




2008: “Albert J. Jones: The New York Times’ Sculpture Critic in Italy, 1860-1876” 
City & the Book IV: Florence and the Americans, Florence, Italy (October 12, 2008). 
[See TLS February 27, 2009: 15.]



Related Publications and PhD thesis
2009: [Three chapters in] Infinite Radius: founding the Rhode Island School of Design, ed. Andrew Martinez and Dawn Barrett. (2009): 171-242.

2009: “Towards a Genealogy of Culture at the Rhode Island School of Design, 1876-1896.”
Brown University PhD Thesis:
1.     “What a beginning is worth”: The Women’s Centennial Committee and Founding RISD                    
2.     “No Honors to Divide”: Mrs. Metcalf and the Trustees of the Women’s Centennial Fund
3.     A Place for Design: RISD at the Hoppin Homestead                           
4.     The Jones Bequest Lawsuit and the Meaning of a Museum at RISD

1997: “Educating American Designers for Industry, 1853-1903,” in The Cultivation of American Artists: Education and the Commerce of Art in 19th-century America, ed. Diana Korzenik. (American Antiquarian Society, 1997): 187-206.


Site Specific Art Installation on RISD’s history
2008: Footnotes (2008). A collaboration with Brooklyn-based artist Caroline Woolard for the juried show, Cryptic Providence. Austin exhibited an iteration of this project at the RISD, Museum of Art (2009). [EcologyOfCultureRI.blogspot.com]




Older Conference Papers on Design Education, 2004-1993 

2004: “The RISD Hybrid: Design and the Language of ‘Art’, 1876-96,”
The Winterthur Biennial Conference on “Rethinking Design” (2004).

2002: “‘What a beginning is worth’: The Women’s Centennial Committee of Rhode Island & the Founding of RISD, 1875-77.” The American Seminar, John Nicholas Brown Center for the Study of American Civilization, Brown University (2002).


2002: “Founding Notions of Design at RISD,” Founders Day Forum for RISD’s 125th Anniversary (2002).

2001: “Industrialization and the Language of Art and Design,” College Art Association (2001).

2000: “The Jones Bequest and the Meaning of a Museum in 1890s Providence,” The Rhode Island Round Table, John Nicholas Brown Center for the Study of American Civilization, Brown University (2000).

1996: “Early American Female Designers: Betsey Metcalf, Sophia Woodhouse, and Mary Dixon Kies,” College Art Association Annual Conference -Women’s Caucus (1996).

1994: Session Chair - “Tracing Usable Legacies: The Production of Art in Modern Consumer Societies,” College Art Association Annual Conference (1994).

1993: “Educating American Designers for Industry, 1854-1903,” American Antiquarian Society Conference on Education and the Commerce of Art in 19thc. America (1993).




Teaching 1991-2009
Rhode Island School of Design, 1991-1999, 2003, 2008-2009
History of Industrial Design; Design History seminars; Undergraduate Advanced Design Studio on Interactive Appliances; Graduate Studio Seminars in Design History and Theory; Graduate Studio Thesis Advisor and Critic; Business & Professional Practice for graduating seniors; Guest Critic in Graphic Design & Architecture Studios.

Yale University, 1999-2001
History of Industrial Design; Thesis Critic, School of Architecture.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Nancy Austin CV on Place Making & Disruptive Location Technologies



2014: "Glocal" Place Making & the Digital Front Door
AustinAlchemy.com blog post


Lovecraft’s surprise ranking on Pantheon, that I described in an earlier post, and this surprise donation to the Providence Athenaeum provide a case study on how a local nonprofit can greet and partner with a digital global “public”. … The H.P. Lovecraft Bronze Bust project is an example of a digitally connected community longing for place-based ways to witness their respect and admiration.


Who are your ambassadors? Outsiders & the Open Door

Neither Lovecraft nor Poe nor even Sarah Helen Whitman was ever a member of the Providence Athenaeum. These outsiders recognized and became devoted to a special place, but were never part of the inside circle - or even the next few rings out. Yet it was the financially beleaguered female poet Sarah Helen Whitman (1803-1878) who has been the most effective long term maven connecting the Athenaeum to Poe, Mallarme, and Manet. Now, H.P. Lovecraft joins the ranks as vital ambassador for the Providence Athenaeum. This is the kind of historical insight that can channel strategy in new ways.
Posted May 6, 2014

2014: "Pantheon" - Greeting the Global at your Digital Front Door 

Pantheon is a “Big Data” project from the MIT Media Lab that will convince non-profits to visualize Wikipedia as a digital front door that can advance public mission. What strategies can help the local nonprofit greet the global digital public? 

Posted April 28, 2014




2014, 2012: “People in Place”, Mapping Barrington, Rhode Island’s Industrial Past
Currently on view at the Barrington (RI) Preservation Society through June 30, 2014

Designed as an innovative prototype for the digital humanities, this Roger Williams University Historic Preservation student project provides new contexts for understanding about 25 historic buildings and locations in Barrington, and the men and women who lived and worked here.



2012: Historic Urban Signage, Place Making & new Cultural Tourism Apps

“Urban Signage in Providence, 1770-1890,” Before Madison Avenue: Advertising in Early America  
[Co-sponsored by the Visual Culture Program at the Library Company of Philadelphia (VCP at LCP) & the Center for Historic American Visual Culture at the American Antiquarian Society (CHAViC at AAS).]



2011-10: Facts & Interesting Fictions: Locating the American Academy in Rome’s Founding History


Friendship at the Shack - Presentation at American Academy in Rome (Feb. 23, 2011)

Founding the American Academy in Rome - AARome Blog (May 24, 2010)

Tracing the AAR’s First Twenty Years: The Villa Aurora -  AARome Blog  (March 16, 2010)





2010: Locative Media and the Possibility of Place,” Monthly Design Review.
Launch issue of an online design journal edited by RISD-ID grad, Tino Chow.


Less than one hundred years ago the US Congress formally recognized the standardized time zones we rely on today without thinking. This “tipping point” occurred decades after Greenwich Mean Time was adopted, and it was an agreement reached only after decades of confusion caused by the new railroad networks trying to arrive on time at the hundreds of locally determined time zones enacted across America. Now we are at a turning point in talking about location, just as we were more than a century ago talking about time. As this important conversation goes forward, I hope it will be joined by a broad coalition committed to exploring the broadest range of possible implications. We need a common vision of a sustainable future. Talking about “where” will be part of it.

Article illustrations by RISD-ID grad Arthur Harsuvanakit

2010-2009: Off-Road - Historic Synagogues in New Haven. 
Memory, Mobility & Location Technology


"Off-Road: Experimental Cultural Tourism in New Haven's Yale Hospital, Oak Street Connector and Historic Orchard Street Synagogue Area. An Art Installation by Nancy Austin,” The Cultural Heritage Artists Project of the Orchard Street Shul (2009): 64-65.




2008: Cloud computing as an Emerging Location Technology - Yale University Material Culture Lecture Series  “Appliances as Performance Peripherals in the New Age of Cloud Computing,”

1995: “The Mass-Produced Pen and Images of Writing in 19th c. America,”
American Antiquarian Society Seminar in American Art History

1994, 1991, 1983:  “Naming the Landscape: Leisure Train Travel and the Demise of the Art Salon,” International Association of Philosophy and Literature Symposium on Art and Change (Montreal, May 1991).

“Naming the Landscape: Leisure Travel and the Demise of the Salon.” In Transformations: The Languages of Personhood and Culture after Theory , ed. Christie McDonald. (Penn State Press, 1994): 35-60.


…Between 1845 and 1860 railroads penetrated most of France, making the entire national landscape available as a leisure travel destination. Ironically, this emphasis on the specific and on regional differences occurred as these very qualities were being obliterated. …Naming the landscape thus became an integral aspect of the painting. This articulation of difference – by insisting that this was a view of here and not anywhere else – is evident despite the generic similarity of many of the landscapes.

…In the 1850s, new means of leisure travel opened up new ways of experiencing nature that were reinforced in various ways in the rest of culture during the 1860s and 1870s. By the late 1880s, these mutually reinforcing practices had split apart. The marketing and consumption of representations of the French landscape after mid-century are details that can help focus cultural production in the nineteenth century as a whole.


My pre-computer "Big Data" master's thesis on Salon landscape paintings


1992: The Amazeing Grace Clothing Project - Collaborative Performance as Academic Conference Intervention

This was a performative intervention at a women's study conference. As an emerging academic, I had been on the scholarly conference circuit for some time in an effort to establish myself as an interdisciplinary academic in a tenure-track job. The A*maze*ing Grace Clothing Project was my activist response to the complicated conventions of networking and competition that hovered around non-tenured scholars at these academic conferences. How hard would it be to offer an opportunity for a different kind of embodied voice? For shared making outside on the grass, as well as conference speaking in the anonymous spaces of the conference rooms? Was this "legitimate" knowledge production?


1981: Manet & the Execution of Maximilian (exhibition & catalogue)
“Metaphor and Fact at Mid-Century: Manet and Contemporary History Painting,” in Edouard Manet and the Execution of Maximilian, ed. Kermit Champa. (Brown University, 1981). 
My essay was part of the forward-looking exhibition and catalogue produced by the Brown University Master's Degree graduate students in Art History, 1980-81.

We think of the 24/7 news cycle as a recent phenomenon, but in 1869 the French painter, Edouard Manet had to develop an entirely new painting style to adjust to the changing public awareness of the details surrounding the execution of the Emperor Maximilian in Mexico on June 19, 1867. Manet’s body of five works on the Execution of Maximilian document the impact of information on visual narrative.