Desire, Conflict & Exchange Featured Student: Lydia Jasper

Written by Marketing Intern Astrid Cabello

Lydia Jasper 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. Jasper is a senior from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a double major in Art and Architecture History and Music. On campus, she is also involved in Effusions Journal, Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority, and the Art and Architecture History Association.

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. 

Jasper chose the Octagonal Lidded Box from the Rookwood Pottery Company created by Kataro Shirayamadani in 1924. The box, along with other pieces from Rookwood featured, connects the exhibit back to Ohio. This piece in particular, blends together ideas of old and new “golden age” styles of design to create a uniquely American style, merging East Asian decoration and the Art Deco Movement’s emphasis on innovation. Jasper’s selection of this piece was inspired by her interest in Cincinnati’s role in Orientalist style and how it contributed to American understanding of Asian cultures in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Throughout the capstone Jasper learned that a successful project can come from a group of students that have various knowledge of art history, Asian culture and history, and museum works. Jasper recalls fondly that “the group all came together with our strengths and worked to improve areas where we were weak to create a coherent exhibition.”

Jasper’s favorite part of the capstone course was the field trip the class took to Boston that provided a lot of insight as to how museums choose to display works of art that enhance our understanding of cultures different than our own without degrading them. Students were able to talk to professional curators, historians, registrars and collections staff at the museums that they visited and apply that knowledge to their own exhibit.  

When asked who Jasper would recommend the capstone course to, she had this to say, “I would recommend the Art History Capstone to any student willing to challenge their understanding of what makes a narrative. This capstone taught me a lot about how narratives need to be accessible to all people that interact with it, otherwise the story will not be able to make an impact on a wide variety of people. I would also recommend this capstone to those interested in the behind-the-scenes works that go into the upkeep of large scale projects, whether they’re in Art History, a science or math major, or business, everyone will have to work on a multi-step project at some point in their career, likely on a team. I think this capstone did a great job of improving my reasoning skills beyond art history alone.”

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 Lydia’s piece along with the rest of the exhibition, Desire, Conflict & Exchange, at the Miami University Art Museum!

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