March 11-12, 2016

Sponsored by the Rhode Island School of Design and the Transdisciplinary Aesthetics Foundation


All sessions (except for salon discussion at the end of the symposium) take place in Metcalf Auditorium on the first floor of Chace Center  (Enter from the RISD Museum entrance facing North Main Street)

For a longer bio information of each speaker with a link to his/her website, please visit (insert Digital Commons address)

FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2016

9:00 Introduction

Yuriko Saito (Philosophy, Rhode Island School of Design)

Michael Kelly (Philosophy, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Editor-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics (Oxford University Press); Founder & President, Transdisciplinary Aesthetics Foundation)

9:15-11:00   Aesthetics and Environmental Engagement/Sustainability

Chair: Yuriko Saito (Philosophy, Rhode Island School of Design)


Arnold Berleant (Philosophy [emeritus], Long Island University)

Arnold Berleant is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Long Island University.  He has written extensively in aesthetics and is the author of eight books on aesthetic theory and individual arts.  He has lectured widely abroad, and his work has been translated into many languages.  Berleant is also a trained musician, practicing his conviction that there is a necessary bond between philosophical aesthetics and the arts.  His work may be accessed at his website: or via at:

Emily Brady (Geography, University of Edinburgh)

Emily Brady is Professor of Environment and Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. Her research interests span aesthetics and philosophy of art, environmental ethics, eighteenth-century philosophy, Kant, and animal studies. Her philosophical approach moves between the historical and contemporary, seeking to reinterpret past thinking about nature and environment for a contemporary context. She is especially interested in trying to understand the character of aesthetic experience and judgment, the role of imagination in that experience, and how aesthetic and moral values interact. Brady’s publications include: The Sublime in Modern Philosophy: Aesthetics, Ethics, and Nature (2013); Aesthetics of the Natural Environment(2003), and as co-editor, Aesthetic Concepts: Essays After Sibley(2001).

Patricia Johanson (Artist)

Since the 1960s, Patricia Johanson‘s work has focused on combining art, ecology, and infrastructure into multi-functional public landscapes. Incorporating conditions including municipal flood basins, sewers, water-treatments systems, flood control structures, and restored wildlife habitats in often challenging sites, she has completed Fair Park Lagoon, Dallas, TX (1981); Park for the Amazon Rainforest, Obidos, Brazil (1992); Ulsan Grand Park, Ulsan, South Korea (1996), Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility, Petaluma, CA (2001); and The Draw Sugar House, Salt Lake City, UT (2003). She received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 1970 and an Honorary Doctorate from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 1995.

11:15-1:00  Aesthetics and Ethical Making 

Chair: Anne Tate (Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design)


Alison Gwilt (Fashion and Sustainability, Sheffield Hallam University)

Dr Alison Gwilt is a fashion design researcher, author and consultant. She explores and promotes a range of innovative design methods and approaches that enable the fashion and textiles community, from educators, to producers, and consumers, to adopt more sustainable and ethical practices. Her work focuses on the use of positive/sustainable design interventions that challenge the current production and consumption paradigm. Alison’s books include ‘Shaping Sustainable Fashion’ (2011), ‘A Practical Guide to Sustainable Fashion’ (2014) and ‘Fashion Design for Living’ (2015). She currently holds the post of Reader in Fashion and Sustainability in the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, UK.

Jonathan Maskit (Philosophy, Denison University)

Jonathan Maskit is Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy (on-going) at Denison University, where he also teaches in the Environmental Studies Program.  He has published on environmental aesthetics, everyday aesthetics, consumption, wilderness, postindustrialism, and other topics.  His work has appeared in Philosophy & Geography; Ethics, Policy, and Environment; Aesthetic Pathways; The European Journal of Geography; and other journals, as well as in a number of edited volumes.  He is currently editing a book on continental philosophy and the environment as well as writing one on the aesthetics of sustainable life.  He is currently a visiting scholar at the Excellence Cluster for Normative Orders at Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.

Adrian Parr (Architecture & Sociology, University of Cincinnati)

Adrian Parr is the Chair of Taft Faculty and the Director of the Taft Research Center at the University of Cincinnati. She holds a joint appointment in the Department of Political Science and the School of Architecture and Interior Design. She is a UNESCO Co-Chair of Water Access and Sustainability with Prof. Dion Dionysiou. She has published several books, the most recent being The Wrath of Capital (Columbia University Press, 2013), Hijacking Sustainability (MIT Press, 2009), and New Directions in Sustainable Design edited with Michael Zaretsky (Routledge, 2010). In 2010 she was awarded the Rieveschl Award for Scholarly and Creative Work.

2:30-4:15  Art, Craft, Design, Cultural Artifacts 

Chair: Sarah Ganz Blythe (Director of Museum Education, RISD Museum)


Julia Bryan-Wilson (Art History, University of California at Berkeley)

Julia Bryan-Wilson is Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of California, Berkeley.  Her research interests include questions of artistic labor, craft histories, performance, feminism, and queer theory.  She has held grants from the Getty, the Clark Art Institute, the Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation, and the Center for Craft, Creativity, & Design, among others. Her book Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era (2009) was named a “best book of the year” by Artforum, and her article “Invisible Products” won the 2013 Art Journal Award.  She has two books forthcoming: one on recent textiles(University of Chicago Press), and one entitled Art in the Making, co-authored with Glenn Adamson (Thames & Hudson).

Steve Lubar (American Studies, History, and History of Art and Architecture, Brown University)

Steven Lubar is a professor in the departments of American studies, history, and the history of art and architecture at Brown University. Before coming to Brown he worked for twenty years as a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. At Brown he has been director of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology and the John Nicholas Brown Center for the Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. He’s interested in the public humanities, museum curatorship, and the history of museums. He recently won a Guggenheim Fellowship to write a book on museum work, past and present.

T’ai Smith (Art & Art History, University of British Columbia, Vancouver)

T’ai Smith is assistant professor in the Department of Art History, Visual Art & Theory at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Author of Bauhaus Weaving Theory: From Feminine Craft to Mode of Design (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), her articles have appeared in Art JournalArt Practical, Grey RoomJournal of Modern CraftTexte zur Kunst, and Zeitschrift für Medien-und Kulturforschung. Working on the relation between diagrams and management in art, design, media theory, and philosophy, she is currently drafting a new book, tentatively titled Frock Coats and Capital: The Fashion Economy Before and After Marx.


9:15-11:00  Feminist Aesthetics and Art

Chair: Patricia Phillips (Graduate Studies, Rhode Island School of Design)


A.W. Eaton (Philosophy, University of Illinois-Chicago)

A.W. Eaton is an Associate Professor. She received her Ph.D. from The University of Chicago in both philosophy and art history in 2003. She works on topics in feminism, aesthetics and philosophy of art, value theory, and Italian Renaissance painting. Her special interests include the epistemological and ontological status of aesthetic value, the relationship between ethical and artistic value, feminist critiques of pornography, representations of rape in the European artistic tradition, and artifact teleology. Professor Eaton was a Laurence Rockefeller Fellow at Princeton’s Center for Human Values in 2005-6. She is the editor of the Aesthetics & Philosophy of Art section of Philosophy Compass.

Uri McMillan (English, University of California at Los Angeles)

Uri McMillan is an Assistant Professor in English, African-American Studies, and Gender Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Embodied Avatars: Genealogofies Black Feminist Art and Performance (NYU, 2015). He has published essays in SOULS: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, , Women and Performance: a journal of feminist theory, and GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies as well as essays in Flow(2008), Studio Magazine (2009), Re: Collection (2010), and Evidence of Accumulation (2011), all published by the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Maureen Connor (Art (emerita), Queens College of the City University of New York)

Bio pending

11:15-1:00   Aesthetics of Performance 

Chair: Jane South (Head of Sculpture Department, Rhode Island School of Design)


Derrick Adams (Artist, Brooklyn)

Derrick Adams is a multidisciplinary New York–based artist with practices rooted in Deconstructivist philosophies and the formation and perception of ideals attached to objects, colors, textures, symbols and ideologies. Often employing architectural processes as well as fragmentation and manipulation of structure and surface, his 2D, 3D, and performance projects explore shifting forces of American popular culture and institutional critique of cultural perspectives in contemporary art.

Adams received his BFA from Pratt Institute, MFA from Columbia University and is a Skowhegan and Marie Walsh Sharpe alumnus. He is a recipient of a 2009 Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, and is an honored finalist for the 2011 William H. Johnson Prize. He has exhibited and performed in NYC, Paris and London.

Elinor Fuchs (Drama (emerita), Yale University)

Elinor Fuchs is the author or editor of five books, including The Death of Character, winner of the George Jean Nathan Award in Dramatic Criticism and the family memoir Making an Exit. Her documentary play, Year One of the Empire, co-authored with historian Joyce Antler, has been produced in New York and Los Angeles, where it won the Drama-Logue award for playwriting. Known for her numerous scholarly articles in dramatic structure and theory, as well as theater criticism in American Theatre and The Village Voice, she has taught at Emory, Columbia,  Harvard,  and the Institut für Theatrewissenschaft of the Free University of Berlin.  In June, 2015, she became Professor Emerita of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at the Yale School of Drama, where she taught for the past twenty-one years.

Amelia Jones (Critical Studies, University of Southern California)

Amelia Jones is the Robert A. Day Professor in Art and Design and Vice-Dean of Critical Studies at the Roski School of Art and Design at University of Southern California. A curator and a theorist and historian of art and performance, her recent publications include Perform Repeat Record: Live Art in History (2012), co-edited with Adrian Heathfield, a single authored book Seeing Differently: A History and Theory of Identification and the Visual Arts(2012), the edited volume Sexuality (2014), and, co-edited with Erin Silver, Otherwise: Imagining Queer Feminist Art Histories (forthcoming). Her exhibition Material Traces: Time and the Gesture in Contemporary Art took place in 2013 in Montreal.

2:30-4:15  Aesthetics and Law

Chair: Pradeep Sharma (Provost, Rhode Island School of Design)


Stefano Bloch (Presidential Diversity Fellow in Urban Studies, Brown University)

Stefano Bloch is a trained urban geographer who specializes in social and spatial theory, cultural criminology, and subcultures, with expertise in the areas of low-level criminality, critical urban theory, and the production, practice, and aesthetic of graffiti. After receiving his BA from UC Santa Cruz, MA in Urban Planning from UCLA where he worked with Edward W. Soja, and Ph.D in Geography from the university of Minnesota, he came to Brown University as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Cogut Center for the Humanities and is currently a Presidential Diversity Fellow in Urban Studies.

Sergio Muňoz Sarmiento (Founder of the Art & Law Program, Fordham University)

Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento is an artist, writer, teacher and lawyer interested in the analysis of property and structures, in both tangible and intangible forms, through the means of artistic and cultural production. In 2003 Sarmiento attended law school as an art project. In 2010 he founded the Art & Law Program in New York City, a semester-long seminar series with a theoretical and philosophical focus on the relationship between art and law. Sarmiento is a graduate of the University of Texas-El Paso, the California Institute of the Arts, the Whitney Independent Study Program, and Cornell Law School.

Brian Soucek (Law, University of California at Davis)

Brian Soucek is an assistant professor at UC Davis School of Law, where he teaches Antidiscrimination Law, Constitutional Law, and Civil Procedure; from 2005-2008, he was a member of the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago. Soucek received his PhD in Philosophy from Columbia University and his JD from Yale Law School. He brings his background in the philosophy of art to bear questions regarding the law’s relationship to appearances and the aesthetic. Soucek’s writing has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal, cited in the federal courts, and recently honored with UCLA’s Dukeminier Award recognizing the year’s best article on sexual orientation law.

4:30-6:00  Salon Discussion of all Topics in the Old Library

Moderator: Michael Kelly

At the College Bldg. at the corner of Benefit St. and College St. When you leave Chace Center, take a left on South Main St. and take the first left at the intersection – N. Main and College –, go up the hill to the next intersection – College and Benefit – and take the first entrance on the left. Go up the stairway on the left.