Previous Exhibit

Global Encounters installation view

Global Encounters installation view

Global Encounters in Early America

Objects from American Antiquarian Society, Worcester Historical Society and Old Sturbridge Village to be featured

The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross will present “Global Encounters in Early America,” from Feb. 20 – Apr. 6, 2014. The exhibition is curated by Patricia Johnston, the Rev. J. Gerard Mears, S.J., Chair in Fine Arts, with Holy Cross curatorial seminar students Brigit Baines '16, Katherine Benjamin '15, and Caroline Fador, Abigail Hynes-Houston, Gregory Joyce, Maddie Klett and Lily Meehan all from the class of 2014. An opening reception will be held Thursday, Feb. 20, from 5 – 7:30 p.m.

“Global Encounters in Early America” explores the global visual culture that circulated in early America before 1840. The exhibition asks: what did early Americans know about the rest of the world, and how did interactions with other cultures make an impact on American arts? The primary focus of the exhibition is the emergence of direct trade with China and the rest of Asia after the American Revolution.

The exhibition includes maps, atlases, engravings, and book illustrations drawn from the unparalleled collection of the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) in Worcester, Mass. These visual forms instructed the newly emerging American mercantile class in geographic, cultural, economic, and aesthetic knowledge.  

American decorative arts from significant regional collections including  the Worcester Historical Museum, Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) and the Rhode Island Historical Society, as well as private lenders, illustrate how these materials and Asian aesthetics made an impact on many aspects of American style from fashion and home décor to architecture and garden design. The objects on display include Chinese and English silks and ceramics, Indian cottons, Caribbean mahogany, and other materials that visually illustrate the world-wide trade networks of the period

Global products were common among Americans of many classes, in both seaports and rural areas, and helped shape an emerging American identity as an international commercial power.Roger Hankins, director of the Cantor Art Gallery, says, “there will be over 100 objects in the exhibition, including several rare maps dating from the 1700s and there will also be a display re-creating a ladies’ afternoon tea.”

A tea party brought together materials from all over the globe.  Asian tea was poured from silver teapots, whose metal originated in South America, into Chinese porcelain teacups and sweetened with sugar from Barbados or other islands.  The tea table, of British design, was made from Caribbean mahogany.  Early Americans were very aware that the luxury goods they prized were the result of global trade.

Lending institutions, including  the AAS, a national research library housing printed materials from the colonial period through 1876, and OSV, a living history museum celebrating life in early New England, generously provided Johnston and her students access to their collections in conjunction with the curatorial seminar taught by Johnston in the fall of 2013. “We were most fortunate for the students to have direct experience with objects from the collections of these well-respected local institutions during the seminar and to be able to curate the exhibition using many fine examples of materials representative of the period,” says Johnston.

Johnston, who is organizing a workshop for K-12 teachers and an international symposium in conjunction with the exhibition for scholars, educators and students, received an award from the Terra Foundation for American Art for $25,000 to support this project.  Additional support for this exhibit came from an anonymous donor in memory of Judith Kaseta Menges ’88, a graduate of the Holy Cross who majored in visual arts.

The Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States for national and international audiences.

For more information on these programs, please visit the Gallery’s website at or



Thursday, February 20

Introduction to the Exhibition, 4- 5p.m., Rehm Library
Opening remarks by Patricia Johnston and Holy Cross student curators; and Lauren Hewes, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts at the American Antiquarian Society.
Opening Reception, 5- – 7 p.m. (snow date Feb. 27)


“Global Encounters” workshop for K-12 teachers.  Speakers include Patricia Johnston; Charles Newhall, St. John's Preparatory School; Caroline Frank, Brown University; and Eric Jay Dolin, author of “When America First Met China and Leviathan”.

Co-sponsored by the New England History Teachers Association.  Registration fee of $20 also includes April 4-5 conference.

Hogan Center Suites A, B and C, College of the Holy Cross.

For registration visit or email

GALLERY TALK, Tuesday, March 25, 4 – 5 p.m. -- POSTPONED TO TUESDAY, APRIL 1, 4 - 5 p.m.
Patricia Johnston, Exhibition Curator and Professor of Art History, Holy Cross

GALLERY TALK, Wednesday, March 26, noon – 1 p.m.
Lauren B. Hewes, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts, American Antiquarian Society

Thursday, April 3

“An Apostolate of Books: Jesuits, Their Publications and Their Travels through Asia and the Americas”
A talk by Jeremy Clarke, S.J., Boston College and the Australian Centre for China in the World, Canberra

“The Aesthetics of Tea”
Romita Ray, Syracuse University 

Hogan Center 519,  4– 5 p.m.

Reception to follow at Cantor Art Gallery.  5:15 – 6:15 p.m.

Friday and Saturday, April 4-5

“Global Encounters in Early America,” an international symposium sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Friday sessions at the American Antiquarian Society, 185 Salisbury Street, Worcester will begin at 1 p.m. and conclude with a reception.

Saturday sessions will be held at the Hogan Center Suites A & B and Cantor Art Gallery, College of the Holy Cross from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Speakers include Jennifer Anderson, Stony Brook University; Judy Bullington, Belmont University; Dennis Carr, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Kee Il Choi; Jeffrey Cohen, Bryn Mawr College; Caroline Frank, Brown University; Kirsten Hammerstrom, Rhode Island Historical Society; Holly Izard, Worcester Historical Museum; Yinghe Jiang, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China; Min Kyung Lee, College of the Holy Cross; Gwenn Miller, College of the Holy Cross; Emily Murphy, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, National Park Service; Marina Moskowitz, University of Glasgow; Simon Newman, University of Glasgow; Madelyn Shaw; Karen Turner, College of the Holy Cross; Alan Wallach, College of William and Mary,; James Welu, Worcester Art Museum, director emeritus.

For registration visit or email

Header images courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society; detail of Edward Ruggles, Map of the World Drawn from the Latest Discoveries and Best Authorities.Pomfret, Conn., 1788; and detail of Chinese Export Famille Rose Punch Bowl, mid-19th century. Porcelain. Bequest of the Estate of Mary Gage Rice, 1978.


Global Encounters in Early America International Symposium

American Antiquarian Society

Worcester Historical Museum

Old Sturbridge Village

Rhode Island Historical Society

Global Encounters