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The Terra Symposia on American Art in a Global Context

Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006–2015


In September 2006, a three-day international symposium entitled “American Art in a Global Context” was held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in celebration of its reopening after a lengthy renovation. Convening leading scholars in the field to discuss the increasing globalization of American art, this symposium was the first in a pioneering five-part series, The Terra Symposia on American Art in a Global Context, organized by SAAM and made possible by a generous grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art. Subsequent symposia held in 2009, 2011, and 2013 examined the ties that bind American art and artists to other regions of the world, from Asia to Latin America and Africa. The capstone event, “Shifting Terrain: Mapping a Transnational American Art History” (October 16–17, 2015), reflected on the transformation of the field over the past decade and suggested future directions for scholarship.

The Terra Symposia on American Art in a Global Context have been instrumental in encouraging an international dialogue on American art and its place within a global art history. More than 115 scholars from six continents have contributed to the series. Thanks to travel support from the Terra Foundation, each international presenter was able to invite a graduate student from his or her home country to participate in the events. To further the series’ global outreach, recordings of all five symposia are available here as webcasts.

About SAAM

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is dedicated to collecting, understanding, and enjoying American art. The museum celebrates the extraordinary creativity of artists whose works reflect the American experience and global connections. SAAM’s specialized art databases and archives, distinguished fellowship program, peer-reviewed journal American Art, and annual publication prizes promote innovative research in the field of American art.

About the Terra Foundation

The Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States for national and international audiences. To further cross-cultural dialogue on American art, the foundation supports and collaborates on innovative exhibitions, research, and educational programs. Implicit in such activities is the belief that art has the potential both to distinguish cultures and to unite them.

Video Recordings of Past Terra Symposia

Shifting Terrain: Mapping a Transnational American Art History (2015)

Encuentros: Artistic Exchange between the U.S. and Latin America (2011)

American Art in a Global Context (2006)

American Art in Dialogue with Africa and its Diaspora (2013)

East-West Interchanges
in American Art (2009)

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