Throughout her sixty-year career as a modern American artist, Agnes Pelton (1881-1961) explored multiple strains of mysticism to chart an independent course of spiritually attuned paintings. This talk traces Pelton’s appropriation of various spiritual sources, including New Thought, Theosophy, Agni Yoga, astrology, and numerology, and her primary belief in art as a form of personal and creative transcendence.
Erika Doss (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is a professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her wide-ranging interests in American art are reflected in the breadth of her publications, including Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Modernism: From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism (1991, which received the Charles C. Eldredge Prize), Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities (1995), Elvis Culture: Fans, Faith, and Image (1999), Looking at Life Magazine (editor, 2001), Twentieth-Century American Art (2002), The Emotional Life of Contemporary Public Memorials: Towards a Theory of Temporary Memorials (2008), and Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America (2010). Doss is also co-editor of the “Culture America” series at the University Press of Kansas, and is on the editorial boards of Memory Studies, Public Art Dialogue, and Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art, and Belief. The recipient of several Fulbright awards, Doss has also held fellowships at the Stanford Humanities Center, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.