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Wednesday, April 3


VRAF Legacy Lecture: Opening Speaker, James Elkins, "Can Visual Literacy be Taught in One Year?"


Linda Reynolds, Williams College,
Visual Resources Association Foundation Board of Directors


Even after four decades of writing on the subject of visuality, even in the wake of the large literature on the visual nature of late capitalism, and even in light of the many claims that our culture is inundated by images, there is still no satisfactory introductory textbook on the subject. Currently there are three kinds of literature that are used in freshman surveys of the visual world: art appreciation texts, surveys of visual culture or world art history, and texts on visuality like John Berger's or W. J. T. Mitchell's. The first is often formal and apolitical; the second has to to with fine art or popular imagery; the third is very general and excludes science.

In this presentation I'll report on three different projects that bear on the possibility of producing a genuinely interesting, comprehensive, useful book and course for freshman, introducing them to the visual world including art. First is the Oxford University Press's project to create a better "art appreciation" text; second are the two books "Visual Practices Across the University" and "Visual Literacy" (both produced for an event in Ireland); third is my own attempt to co-author a book on vision and visuality across all the fields that theorize it: philosophy, neurobiology, affect theory, phenomenology, sociology, art history, feminisms, anthropology, criminology, archaeology, medicine, meteorology, and surveillance. 

It is not impossible, I think, to theorize visual competence and literacy in such a course, producing a generation of students who understand how they interact with their visual world.

James Elkins grew up in Ithaca, New York, separated from Cornell University by a quarter-mile of woods once owned by the naturalist Laurence Palmer.

He stayed on in Ithaca long enough to get the BA degree (in English and Art History), with summer hitchhiking trips to Alaska, Mexico, Guatemala, the Caribbean, and Columbia. For the last twenty-five years he has lived in Chicago; he got a graduate degree in painting, and then switched to Art History, got another graduate degree, and went on to do the PhD in Art History, which he finished in 1989. (All from the University of Chicago.) Since then he has been teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently E.C. Chadbourne Chair in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism.

His writing focuses on the history and theory of images in art, science, and nature. Some of his books are exclusively on fine art (What Painting Is, Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles?). Others include scientific and non-art images, writing systems, and archaeology (The Domain of Images, On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them), and some are about natural history (How to Use Your Eyes). His most recent book is Art Critiques: A Guide.

Current projects include an edited book series called the Stone Art Theory Institutes, and an edited book series called Theories of Modernism and Postmodernism in the Visual Art. His most recent book is What Photography Is, written against Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida

He married Margaret MacNamidhe in 1994 on Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands, off the West coast of Ireland. Margaret is also an art historian, with specialties in Delacroix and Picasso. Jim’s interests include microscopy (with a Zeiss Nomarski differential interference microscope and Anoptral phase contrast), stereo photography (with a Realist camera), playing piano (contemporary "classical" music), and (whenever possible) winter ocean diving.

Wednesday April 3, 2013 4:30pm - 6:00pm
Garden Room, 2nd Floor Providence Biltmore, 11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI


Opening Reception

Catch up with old friends and meet new colleagues at the Providence Biltmore Hotel. Join us for light food and a fun mixer event with prizes. The reception starts at 6:00pm, and the mixer event will take place from 7:00 to 7:30pm   --  special mixer buttons will be distributed at the reception.

Wednesday April 3, 2013 6:00pm - 7:30pm
L'Apogee, 17th Floor Providence Biltmore, 11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI


VRAF Celebrates 10 Years of SEI

By invitation only

The Summer Educational Institute for Visual Resources & Image Management, a joint project of the VRA Foundation and ARLIS/NA, has provided educational summer workshops on image management since 2004. The VRA Foundation wishes to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the program by inviting any SEI attendee, instructor, or organizer to a reception at the VRA conference. Anyone planning to participate in SEI 2013 or host a future institute is also welcome to attend.

In addition, the VRA Foundation would like to thank and acknowledge its financial supporters by inviting them to the reception. Anyone who has supported the VRAF at any donor level is encouraged to share in the celebration of SEI’s success and longevity with cake and champagne.

Wednesday April 3, 2013 7:30pm - 9:00pm
L'Apogee, 18th Floor Providence Biltmore, 11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI
Thursday, April 4


New Members & First Time Attendees Breakfast

Endorsed by the Education Committee and Membership Committee

Annual breakfast event for new VRA members and those attending their first VRA conference. Let breakfast be on us while you mix and mingle with both new and longtime members of the Association. The event is also an opportunity to meet VRA leaders. Attending the breakfast is a great way to meet others in our organization in a friendly and social environment. Be sure to bring your mentor or mentee. You definitely do not want to miss out on the fun!

By invitation only.


Thursday April 4, 2013 7:30am - 9:00am
L'Apogee, 17th Floor Providence Biltmore, 11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI


Members & Awards Dinner

A highlight of the Conference, the Members & Awards Dinner brings us together in an elegant setting as we announce the recipients of the Association’s major honors and awards.  Join with your colleagues in celebrating and applauding this year’s Distinguished Service Award and Nancy DeLaurier Award honorees.  At this time, we will also recognize the recipients of the 2012 Travel Awards, along with the generous donors who have made these awards available. 

*PLEASE NOTE: The cost of this event is included in your conference registration fee. However, prior registration for this event is required for purposes of room scheduling and catering arrangements.

Thursday April 4, 2013 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Grand Ballroom, 17th Floor Providence Biltmore, 11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI
Friday, April 5


Annual Business Meeting / Breakfast

The VRA Annual Business Meeting is the official forum for conducting Association business. The agenda includes the President's State of the Association message; the Treasurer's report; updates on current and future Association projects and activities; the recognition of outgoing officers, committee chairs, and appointees; the induction of incoming officers, committee chairs, and appointees; and the presentation on the 2014 conference host city. There will be an opportunity for questions and announcements from the membership.  Breakfast will be provided.  Seating in
Grand Ballroom, buffet set-up in L'Apogee 17.

The Executive Board cordially invites all Visual Resources Association members to attend and participate.

Friday April 5, 2013 8:00am - 10:25am
Grand Ballroom, 17th Floor Providence Biltmore, 11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI


SHOP-Tansey @ risd | works: Donor Appreciation Open House

Here’s a terrific opportunity to shop and socialize with your VRA colleagues during the Providence conference. This year the Tansey event will be an informal drop in gathering at risd|works, a unique shop located in the RISD Museum lobby which showcases products and works of art designed and/or made by the alumni and faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design. At risdworks shop, there is tangible proof of the significant impact artists and designers make on our world.  This wonderful shop will be open exclusively to VRA members who have donated to the Tansey Fund. Attendees will receive a 20% discount on purchases made during the SHOP-Tansey Donor Appreciation Open House.

No tickets required, only a donation in any amount to the fund.  Drop in on your way out to dinner and enjoy the SHOP-Tansey at the RISD Museum, just a few blocks from the conference hotel.  Door prizes and light refreshments!

Donate through conference registration, membership renewal or online at vraweb.org.  Cash donations will be accepted at the conference registration desk.  Donations already made since September 1, 2012 are considered eligible.


VRA Greater New York Chapter

The purpose of the organization is to promote communication among national members of the Visual Resources Association within the New York metropolitan area.

VRA Southeast Chapter

The purpose of the Chapter is the support and professional enrichment of Chapter members residing or active in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The Chapter will serve to encourage and support... Read More →

Friday April 5, 2013 6:00pm - 7:30pm
risd|works 20 North Main Street, Providence RI
Saturday, April 6


Closing Speaker, Alex MacLean

Pilot and photographer Alex MacLean has flown his plane over much of the United States documenting the landscape.  Trained as an architect, he has portrayed the history and evolution of the land from vast agricultural patterns to city grids, recording changes brought about by human intervention and natural processes.  His powerful and descriptive images provide clues to understanding the relationship between the natural and constructed environments.  MacLean’s photographs have been exhibited widely in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia and are found in private, public and university collections. He has won numerous awards, including the 2009 CORINE International Book Award, the American Academy of Rome’s Prix de Rome in Landscape Architecture for 2003-2004, and grants from foundations such as the National Endowment for the Arts and Graham Foundation.  MacLean is the author of eleven books including, Up on the Roof: New York's Hidden Skyline Spaces (2012), Las Vegas | Venice (2010), Chroniques Aeriennes: L'art d'Alex MacLean (2010), Alex MacLean: Given a Free Hand (2010), OVER: The American Landscape at the Tipping Point (2008), Visualizing Density (2007), The Playbook (2006), Designs on the Land:  Exploring America from the Air (2003), Taking Measures Across the American Landscape (1996), Look at the Land; Aerial Reflections of America (1993) and Above and Beyond; Visualizing Change in Small Towns and Rural Areas (2002). MacLean maintains a studio and lives in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Saturday April 6, 2013 11:30am - 1:00pm
Garden Room, 2nd Floor Providence Biltmore, 11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI