by Marisa Zemesarajs ’15
Earlier this month two colleagues of our Director, Sherry Harlacher, visited the Museum to help identify, assess, and appraise our collection of Chinese textiles and ceramics, and Japanese woodblock prints and paintings. Everyday I watched as Laurie Petrie Rogers, independent scholar and appraiser (M.A. Regional E. Asian Studies, Harvard University) and Deborah Deacon, Dean of Graduate Students at Harrison Middleton University (Ph.D. Theory and History of Art, Arizona State University) opened box after box of non-Western objects, sometimes revealing something common, other times something exceptional. I say this as I remember Ms. Petrie Rogers chuckle with admiration about a particular Japanese print every time she walked past it.
There’s something really optimistic about non-Western art with its bright silks, patterns, colors- all manifesting each countries’ cultural pride and heritage. I think it can be very difficult to come out of our “Western” comfort zone, and by having these women come to look at our collection, possible points of interest for other students are created. It’s always a great opportunity when we get to bring scholars down to look at our collection. It allows us to prioritize which pieces need to undergo conservation and which need a more appropriate “home” within our racks, while also giving us a better idea of what objects comply with the mission of the Museum and the University as a whole.