VAF 2021 Virtual Conference Poster Proposals

All presentations are twenty minutes unless otherwise noted.  All times are Central Daylight Time.

Poster Sessions 12:00-1:00 pm

Anjelyque Easley - University of Texas at Arlington

“Cemeteries, Construction, Complicity: Black Burial Grounds Under Distress”

Black burial grounds, once places of connection to one’s history and family have been “repurposed” and forgotten as the changing of property ownership occurs. In many cases black burial grounds have been turned into a variety of different urban infrastructures, bypassed, and separated from major transitways effectively ‘burying’ the existence of the Black presence and those who rest there. These once treasured sites have become desolate patches of land because of ignorance, disrespect, and loss.

This research topic explores themes of memory and cultural preservation and the long-term systemic threats to the survival of vernacular Black landscapes using the Universe Cemetery in Tyler, Texas. The Universe Cemetery in Tyler, Texas has a rich history that has been disturbed, forgotten. The cemetery established in 1891 has been recently rediscovered by a small group of local historians and descendants who have begun small-scale efforts to document and clean up the overgrown site. This proposal will further those initial efforts, with the intent to tell the stories of those interred here, from the original property owner, Benjamin Franklin Goss, a freed slave who purchased 280 acres of land in 1870 for agricultural purposes to later including where the remains of the cemetery today.

Jeremy Ebersole - University of Oregon Portland / Milwaukee Preservation Alliance

“A Sight to Dwell Upon and Never Forget: Illuminating Strategies for Saving Neon Signs”

Few elements of the twentieth century built environment have historically stirred as much optimism, ire, and nostalgia as neon signs. Despite a growing appreciation for its value by both municipalities and the general public, however, the fate of neon signage is far from secure, and significant barriers exist to its conservation and continued in situ existence, with beloved signs continuing to disappear and others languishing in states of disrepair. This poster presents solutions to the question of how policymakers and advocates can better ensure that neon signs remain a vital part of the built environment by proposing a targeted blend of regulatory tools, economic incentives, and public outreach aimed at fostering a socio-economic environment more supportive of sign conservation. It first establishes a brief historic context including an overview of the history of neon signage and its regulation, followed by an outline of the multiple civic benefits neon signs provide. An evaluation of national tools available for protecting these resources reveals potential for improvement. A curated survey of strategies being employed around the country to protect neon signage identifies best practices, culminating in recommendations for how city officials and neon advocates can best ensure a bright future for neon signs.

Amie Edwards - University of Florida

“African Architecture and Identity: The 19th-century Asante Palace in Kumasi, Ghana”

Traditional methods of construction in various regions in Africa not only registered sociocultural identity, but also demonstrated sustainable practices and innovative use of local materials.

In the19th century, missionaries took ethnographic surveys of the Asante palace of Kumasi, Ghana that was destroyed during the colonial period. However, the findings did not address the phenomenological experience, holistic architectonic structure, and socio-cultural expression of the Palace. This research examines archival records of the Asante palace to reveal social and cultural practices as they relate to traditional methods of construction and the connections between symbols and their meaning to the palace. This research draws from both anthropology and architecture. From an anthropological point of view, ritual praxis, symbolization, and social organization define the identity of the Asante. Additionally, the architecture of the palace defines the structural phenomenological experience and spatial narrative.

The objective of this research is not only to define the embodied meaning of the Asante palace, but also to explore how such inquiries ameliorate damaging effects of colonization on traditional structures.

Christina Frasier - University of Texas at San Antonio

“Placekeeping and Cultural Sustainability amidst Gentrification in San Antonio”

The cultural landscape of San Antonio’s Westside and Southside neighborhoods, are changing due to gentrification driven in part by the University of Texas at San Antonio’s (UTSA) planned expansion of its downtown campus. Ethnographic and documentary evidence attests to the neighborhoods’ value as cultural landscapes, and this poster aims to raise awareness community stakeholders’ voices so that they can ensure the placekeeping of their neighborhoods.  Utilizing evidence that focuses on the existing urban fabric, UTSA and the City of San Antonio can plan for economic change in these neighborhoods while working to help promote the conservation of these cultural landscapes. 

James Juip - Michigan Technological University

“Stone masonry and its role in the development of the tourist industry within the constructed wilderness of the Keweenaw County”

The built environment of Keweenaw County’s tourist industry landscape is littered with field stone masonry including small bridges, building entrances, decorative urns, guardrails, fireplaces and chimneys. Fieldwork done in Keweenaw County in preparation for the 2024 Vernacular Architecture Forum conference, built on an object driven inquiry methodology, shed new light on these unique pieces of architecture. Further archival investigations, interviews of local community members, and investigations into the geologic origins of the fieldstones themselves began to tell a unique narrative. This work sheds light on the struggle of two masons who worked for the copper mining industry booming in the Keweenaw until losing their jobs, like so many others, during the Great Depression and how they found new work in the creation of the new tourism industry. It also sheds light on the shifts in American values and trends occurring in the decade of the 1930s. Finally, this work underscores how politically connected, wealthy men worked to exploit these trends by rebranding, packaging, and selling the Keweenaw’s diminishing industrial landscape as idyllic wilderness retreat.

Shikha Patidar - VINYAS (a group of artists, architects, and engineers), Bhopal, M.P., India

“Understanding integration of Art and Architecture: Rajwar community, Central India”

India is known for its rich cultural heritage. The culture plays an important role in defining the architecture of a place with time. Vernacular architecture evolves through a process of trial and error for ages and transfers from generations to generation. The Vernacular architecture of Rajwar community of Central India has unique characteristics which makes it different from other folk and tribal communities. It is unique in its style and the finest example of bas –relief architectural ornamentation in India.

The methodology adopted is to document and analyse the aesthetic aspect of vernacular architecture of Rajwar community. The documentation will be done in the form of sketches, photographs and text. Interviews will be taken of the residents and experts in this field. Aesthetic aspect of the architecture will be done in detail. Documentation of paintings, murals and sculptures will be analysed.The  aesthetical perception and architectural attributes will be studied to know how the built environment is perceived.

The vernacular architecture of Rajwar community is the best example of integration of art and architecture, they are so much interrelated to each other that cannot be separated.

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