Christina M. Spiker

Christina M. Spiker

Art Historian | Professor | Digital Humanist

Course // History of World Architecture (St. Olaf College)

COURSE INFORMATION

History of World Architecture
ART 161 | St. Olaf COllege

DESCRIPTION

This introductory course explores the history of architecture from an inclusive, cross-cultural perspective. Proceeding topically through diverse examples from across the globe, students will examine the various ways that individuals and groups responded to religious, political, social, and cultural needs through the creation of built environments. From practical solutions to monumental expressions of power, students will study the role of culture in undergirding regional construction, style, and form. This course examines both local approaches to architectural challenges and shared values that give rise to hybrid structures.

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Presentation // The “Nakoruru Problem”: The Malleable Ainu Image in Samurai Shodown, 1993-2019 (Mechademia)

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “The ‘Nakoruru Problem’: The Malleable Ainu Image in Samurai Shodown, 1993-2019,” paper delivered on the “Queered Through the Foreign, Fictional, and Fetishized Body” panel at the Mechademia Conference for Asian Popular Culture, Minneapolis College of Art and Design (September 27-29, 2019)

ABSTRACT

Very little scholarly attention has been given to the visual representations of Native peoples in popular culture, even though media circulation has a role in forging most stereotypes of indigeneity. This void of scholarship is exacerbated in Japan, where the indigenous Ainu were only recognized as an indigenous group in 2008 and legally recognized in 2019. Even before their recent acknowledgment by the Japanese government, images of the Ainu steadily trickled into Japanese popular culture. Before the recent success of manga/anime Golden Kamuy (2014–present), two female heroines from the arcade fighting game Samurai Shodown—Nakoruru and her sister Rimururu—formed a dominant expression of Ainu identity in visual culture beginning in the mid-1990s. This paper examines their complex representation from three distinct angles: (1) the “official” image of these sisters as found in the game franchise, (2) the fetishized image of the women as coopted in fan-produced dōjinshi comics, which plays upon indigenous stereotypes of closeness to nature to further zoophilic rape fantasies, and (3) the adoption of the Ainu women as a local mascot to support Japanese environmental policies related to deforestation and clean water. In exploring the flexibility of the Ainu image as embodied in these two characters, this paper examines the ambivalence of desire and derision that exists between fan and official cultural productions, and the Ainu community response to what Ainu researcher Chupuchitsekor calls the “Nakoruru Problem” (Nakoruru mondai).

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Public Lecture // Indigenous Modernity in Hokkaido, Japan: the Complexities of Ainu Representation in Photography and Illustration (Macalester College)

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Indigenous Modernity in Hokkaido, Japan: the Complexities of Ainu Representation in Photography and Illustration,” public lecture delivered at Macalester College. Co-sponsored by Art and Art History, Asian Studies, and the Office of Academic Programs (September 19, 2019).

ABSTRACT

The Japanese island of Hokkaido experienced a boom of travel at the turn of the twentieth century as explorers sought out the indigenous Ainu—a people who were often idealized as a singular white race stranded in the North Pacific. These travelers reproduced countless representations of the Ainu; images that would come to define their culture in the Euro-American imaginary. This presentation explores notions of indigenous modernity through photography and illustration from 1870 until roughly 1930. In what ways did the visual field preclude the existence of modern indigenous subjectivity in Hokkaido? How did photography play a role in the construction and reinforcement of native Ainu stereotypes in Japan and abroad? This lecture will examine some key examples of Ainu photography by popular studios and discuss engravings and newspaper collages based on these original photographic works. It will also explore how Ainu producers of image and text—such as Takekuma Tokusaburō and Katahira Tomijirō—engaged with these dominant representations. Understanding the gradual development of optical consistency from photographs to the illustrations based on them can better illuminate the calcification of Ainu stereotypes at home and abroad, as well as expand our understanding of photography as a visual medium in Meiji and Taishō Japan.

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Course // Arts of China (St. Olaf College)

COURSE INFORMATION

Arts of China
ART/ASIAN STUDIES 259 | St. Olaf College

DESCRIPTION

This course is intended as an introduction to the history of Chinese art, offering a survey of major artistic developments from neolithic times to the present. Among the topics considered: ritual bronzes, funerary remains of the Qin and Han, Buddhist sculpture, and the evolution of landscape painting. Important issues discussed include production and patronage, function, and borrowing and influence in the evolution of artistic works across time and space. Also counts toward Asian studies and Chinese majors and Asian studies concentration.

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Public Lecture // Nostalgia as Remedy: Modernity and Sentimentality in Japanese Woodblock Prints of the Meiji Era (The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery)



CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Nostalgia as Remedy: Modernity and Sentimentality in Japanese Woodblock Prints of the Meiji Era,” public lecture delivered at the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery in conjunction with the exhibition Nostalgic Femininity: Japanese Woodblock Prints from The St. Catherine University Archives & Special Collections (May 13, 2019).

ABSTRACT

Christina M. Spiker, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History and curator of the current exhibition, Nostalgic Femininity, will discuss the broader historical and social contexts that inform the relationship between nostalgia and feminine imagery in the work of Japanese printmaker Yōshū Chikanobu and his peers. Learn about print styles from late nineteenth-century Japan using examples from St. Catherine University’s Archives & Special Collections.

VIDEO

A video of the lecture can be watched on The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery website.

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Presentation // Comparative Itineraries: A Digital Humanities Approach to Understanding Authenticity in the Exploration of Hokkaido

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Comparative Itineraries: A Digital Humanities Approach to Understanding Authenticity in the Exploration of Hokkaido,” paper delivered at the Travel is Life, Travel is Home: Representing Travel and Landscape in Japan Conference, Iowa State University (April 4-6, 2019)

ABSTRACT

If you could ask any late nineteenth-century Euro-American explorer about their travels in Hokkaido, Japan, they would all tell you variations of the same story. After a voyage by a steamship, the traveler arrives in the port of Yokohama and confronts a Japan that is both foreign and familiar. After a few days exploration and orientation, they arrange passage to Hakodate by ship with the hope of traveling into Hokkaido’s frontier to meet the indigenous Ainu. Sometimes, these explorers frame the Ainu as savages beyond redemption; at other times, they describe them as naive indigenes in need of religion and civilization. But regardless of how they visually or verbally illustrate the Ainu throughout the text, you would undoubtedly hear tales about how it was this traveler who ventured farther and deeper into Japan’s interior than anyone who came before. As I read these various travel accounts of travel to Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido in the form of explorer’s reports, memoirs, and travelogues, I started to question the exceptional nature of their claims. Did they travel as far as their hyperbole indicated? And when they finally met the indigenous inhabitants of this island, the Ainu, did they really have to navigate “impenetrable jungles,” as one traveler would have it, to locate the ideal “savage” specimen? My paper investigates the role of Hokkaido in three travel narratives written by authors Isabella Bird, Arnold Henry Savage Landor, and Frederick Starr in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I describe the various approaches that these travelers take to exploring the island and employ a digital humanities method to physically plot out the geographies of their route in CARTO DB and ArcGIS. In addition to making a case for the scholarly utility of this method, I use the example of my SCALAR website Mapping Isabella Bird talk about how such digital projects can serve a pedagogical function in posing questions about travel narratives and claims of authorial authenticity.

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Website // Japanese Woodblock Prints @ St. Kate’s w/ MaryJane Eischen (Scalar 2)

CITATION

Eischen, MaryJane, Christina M. Spiker, and Nicole Wallin. Japanese Woodblock Prints @ St. Kate’s. Scalar 2. 2019.

DESCRIPTION

Through the Assistant Mentorship Program at St. Catherine University, MaryJane Eischen ‘20 worked with curator Christina M. Spiker to create Japanese Prints @ St. Kate’s, a website to supplement both the gallery and library exhibitions. This digital component was built using Scalar 2, a technological publishing platform developed by the University of Southern California. The website catalogs the entirety of the Japanese woodblock print collection in the St. Catherine University Archives & Special Collections and provides additional information about all prints and artists on display in each show. MaryJane also utilized a program called Timeline JS, which was developed by Northwestern University Knight Lab. This software was used to create two JavaScript timelines documenting both the artists in the collection and the ways these prints intersect with the history of Meiji Japan. The website also includes exhibition essays by Christina M. Spiker and Nicole Wallin ‘19.

Exhibition Catalog // Nostalgic Femininity & From Flowers to Warriors: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Archives & Special Collections (The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery)



CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Nostalgia as Remedy: Contextualizing the Japanese Woodblock Prints in the St. Catherine University Archives and Special Collections.” In Nostalgic Femininity / From Flowers to Warriors: Japanese Woodblock Prints from The St. Catherine University Archives & Special Collections. Exhibition catalog. (The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, 2019).

VIDEO

You can read my essay digitally or download the entire exhibition catalog through our digital exhibition.

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Exhibition // Nostalgic Femininity: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the St. Catherine University Archives & Special Collections (Catherine G. Murphy Gallery)

CITATION

Nostalgic Femininity: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the St. Catherine University Archives & Special Collections, curated by Christina M. Spiker, Ph.D, Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN (April 13-May 26, 2019)

ABSTRACT

Drawing from items in the University’s Archives & Special Collections, this exhibition explores the relationship between nostalgia and gender in Japanese woodblock prints of the late nineteenth century. The show features various prints by Meiji-period artist Yōshū Chikanobu alongside select examples by Miyagawa Shuntei, Utagawa Kunisada I, Mizuno Toshikata, and Toyohara Kunichika. It will open alongside a complementary library exhibition and digital supplement.

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Exhibition // From Flowers to Warriors: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the St. Catherine University Archives & Special Collections (St. Catherine University Library)

CITATION

From Flowers to Warriors: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the St. Catherine University Archives & Special Collections, curated by Christina M. Spiker with MaryJane Eischen and Nicole Wallin, St. Catherine University Library, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN (April 13 – May 26, 2019)

ABSTRACT

Drawing from items in the University’s Archives & Special Collections, this exhibition builds on the concurrent show Nostalgic Femininity in the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery to explore a broader range of topics in nineteenth-century printmaking, from delicate studies of flowers to intense scenes of battle. The show features various prints by Meiji-period artists Utagawa Yoshitora and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi alongside select examples from other artists including Showa-period shin-hanga artists Aoyama Masaharu, Asada Benji, and Ohno Bakufu. It will open alongside a digital supplement.

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Essay // The Cost of Precarity: Contingent Academic Labor in the Gig Economy (w/ Kristen Galvin)

CITATION

Galvin, Kristen and Christina M. Spiker. “The Cost of Precarity: Contingent Academic Labor in the Gig Economy,” in Art Journal Open (May 1, 2019).

INFORMATION

This essay builds on an original blog post by the authors titled “Generation Wipeout,” which was a part of a special issue of Art Journal Open titled “Beyond Survival: Public Support of the Arts and Humanities.” The original call was cosigned by Sarah Kanouse (Northeastern University), Catherine Morris (Brooklyn Museum), Mimi Thi Nguyen (University of Illinois), and Jeremy Liu (Creative Ecology Partners).

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Presentation // The White Native Body in Asia: Woodcut Engraving and the Creation of Ainu Stereotypes

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “The White Native Body in Asia: Woodcut Engraving and the Creation of Ainu Stereotypes,” paper delivered on the Coloring Print: Reproducing Race Through Material, Process, and Language panel at the annual College Art Association (CAA) Conference (February 13-16, 2019).

ABSTRACT

The indigenous Ainu of northern Japan fascinated travelers as they searched for an “authentic” native experience in the unexplored Japanese frontier. Idealized as a singular white race stranded in the North Pacific, writers, artists, and anthropologists not only textually described Ainu manners and customs but also reproduced countless photographs and illustrations, which would come to visually define Ainu culture in the Euro-American imaginary. Since works depicting the Ainu tended to be overly reliant on readily available woodcut engravings based on photographs from the tourist trade, a small body of images came to stand in for the whole of Ainu experience and culture in the eyes of late nineteenth and early twentieth century European and American readers. Eventually, even Ainu producers of image and text would have no choice but to engage with these dominant representations.This paper examines the role of popular printmaking of the Ainu as a complex, multi-media endeavor. I investigate links between original albumen prints, such as those by Baron Raimund von Stillfried (1839 – 1911), their reproduction, and their eventual translation into the medium of woodcut engraving or illustration. Understanding the gradual development of optical consistency from photographs to the printed illustrations based on them can better illuminate the calcification of Ainu stereotypes at home and abroad and the flourishing debate over Ainu whiteness in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

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Course // Art History: Ancient through Medieval (St. Catherine University)

COURSE INFORMATION

Art History: Ancient through Medieval
ARTH 1100 | St. Catherine University

DESCRIPTION

This course introduces the history of art from the prehistory through the Middle Ages. Beginning with the cave paintings of prehistoric France and Spain, this course surveys the visual arts and architecture of ancient Egypt and the ancient Near East, the Classical Greek and Roman worlds, and finally medieval Europe. This course also provides comparative global examples to understand Western movements in context. We will consider a variety of media (sculpture, pottery, wall painting, mosaics, and manuscripts as well as architecture) as meaningful expressions of their historical contexts.

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Course // Ways of Seeing (St. Catherine University)

COURSE INFORMATION

Ways of Seeing
ARTH 1150 | St. Catherine University

DESCRIPTION

“The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe.” John Berger made this claim in 1972, when he published a thin, but hugely influential book called Ways of Seeing. This course intends to bring Berger’s statement – and the insights of his book – to bear on our own experiences of art, history, and visual culture in the early 21st century. An introduction to the history of art and visual culture, this course considers local and global case studies that implicate images, image makers, and viewers. These are explored according to themes that cut across historical and geographical boundaries, themes that include, but are not limited to visual culture and ideology, beauty and art, the female body and the male gaze, iconoclasm, piety and religious spaces, museums, popular and consumer culture, and social change.

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