Desire, Conflict & Exchange Featured Student: Diana Kate Karsanow

Z1220 Art Museum Collection Objects

Written by Arts Management Intern Diana Kate Karsanow

Diana Kate Karsanow is one of the students from the Art History Capstone course from this past fall which was responsible for the curation of the current exhibit: Desire, Conflict & Exchange Art of 19th Century East Asia & the West. Karsanow is a senior from Madison, Connecticut. She is an Art and Architecture History major with a co-major in Arts Management. She is the Editor-in-chief of Effusions, the Lab Coordinator of the Arts Innovation Lab, a general member of Miami Activities and Programming (MAP), and a Geoffrion Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities Center’s Altman Program. 

During the semester long capstone course, all students worked collaboratively to select an overall theme, sub-themes, and a wide variety of pieces to be featured. Later on, each student chose an individual piece to highlight and explore more in-depth, researching its history and background and then compiling that information in a catalogue entry. 

Karsanow chose the soft-porcelain figurine Chinese Courtier with Lady. This piece was made by the Horscht Porcelain Manufactory in Germany and clearly presents the West’s intrigue with East Asian artmaking and cultures. Karsanow was immediately drawn to Chinese Courtier with Lady because of the complex cultural mixing that is shown through the decorative and material elements of the piece. The piece features an elaborately dressed German aristocrat woman and Chinese man who is meant to look European. Chinese Courtier with Lady was used as a decorative piece for table settings by European aristocrats and was meant to signal to visitors the owner’s wealth and worldliness. 

Before the capstone, Karsanow never took an Asian Art History course. She explains “throughout the Capstone I was not only learning about the process of curating an exhibition and working in a museum, but I was getting a crash course in Asian art.” Karsanow’s appreciation for this field of art history expanded during the semester and she is extremely grateful for getting the chance to learn from Professor Hatch.

Karsanow’s favorite part of the Capstone course was the class trip to Boston, MA. Meeting with museum curators, educators, and registrars at the Peabody Essex Museum and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts inspired Karsanow’s work in Desire, Conflict & Exchange. She was able to imagine herself as a visitor to the Capstone’s exhibition and reflect on the impact space, arrangement, and text has within an exhibition. Karsanow recommends the Art and Architecture History Capstone to Art and Architecture History majors, Art Education majors, Studio Art majors, History majors, Sociology Majors, and any other student interested in museums or public institutions. Karsanow believes “the experience this course provides in curation, marketing, teamwork, and visual analysis is unlike anything else at Miami University or any other undergraduate program. It is a great way to end your college career and it is truly incredible to see all of your hard work come to life in the gallery!”

The exhibition opened Tuesday, January 28 and will remain open through alumni weekend, closing on Saturday, June 13. Attend the following programs to celebrate the exhibition:

East Asian Symposium: Trade, War, Art: East Asian Exchange Past & Present

Mon, Mar 16 | 5–6:30 PM 

This symposium examines the current state of economic and cultural exchange with East Asia through the lens of our recent past. Scholars from Miami University and the student-curators of our Spring 2020 exhibition will present short papers on topics from the first foreign residencies at Yokohama, China’s current Belt & Road Initiatives and the Japanese influences on Rookwood.

Presenting are: Professors Haosheng Yang, Kazue Harada and Michael Hatch and

Capstone Students:  Maria Jose DeSantiago Galan, Faith Walker and Yiwen Bai.

Cosponsored by the East Asian Studies Minor and the Miami University Art Museum.

Gallery Talk & Reception: Desire, Conflict & Exchange

Mon, Mar 16 | 6:30–8 PM

Join the Art & Architecture History Capstone students (ART 498), as they share their curatorial experiences and research related to works on display in the exhibition, Desire, Conflict & Exchange.


Come learn more about Diana Kate’s piece along with the rest of the exhibition, Desire, Conflict & Exchange, at the Miami University Art Museum!

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