In the mid-nineteenth century, Americans faced a new way to encounter art: the traveling exhibition. Sculptures, panoramas, and paintings crisscrossed the country, appearing at venues that included exhibition and entertainment halls, galleries, reform societies, and fairs. During this virtual webinar, Caitlin Meehye Beach will explore the phenomenon of traveling exhibitions as they intersected a pressing concern of the day: the abolition of slavery. Following the publication of her 2022 book, Sculpture at the Ends of Slavery, this presentation focuses on three works in particular: Hiram Powers The Greek Slave, Henry “Box” Brown’s The Mirror of Slavery, and Frederic Edwin Church’s The Icebergs. Tune in to consider the mobilization of images to abolish slavery, and the regimes of race, sentiment, and spectacle that would be confronted in so doing.
Caitlin Meehye Beach is an Assistant Professor of Art History and Affiliated Faculty in African & African American Studies at Fordham University. Her teaching and research focus on transatlantic art histories of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with special attention to the enduring effects of colonialism, slavery, migration, and racial capitalism. Published by University of California Press, Sculpture at the Ends of Slavery is her first book and a recipient of The Phillips Collection Book Prize.