Session at the 108th College Art Association of America Annual Conference

Christine Young-Kyung Hahn, Kalamazoo College 

Bruce Graham, one of the principal architects for Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, once declared, “The Middle West, as I told you before, is America. That is the power of this country.” Although Graham was referring to the power of the Midwest’s industry and natural resources, politically we have seen that to be the case, with Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania routinely determining the outcome of presidential elections. And while Architectural Digest declared as recently as 2017 that “Midwestern Residential Architecture is the Country’s Most Exciting,” the Midwest has long been a center for architectural innovation and patronage throughout the late 19th, 20th, and now 21st century. Yet historically, the Midwest is also a space marked by the memory of the violent removal of its indigenous and religious communities. This panel seeks papers that examine the complexity of Midwest regional identity as expressed in its built environment. Drawing from LeFebvre, how and in what ways are Midwestern identities shaped, produced, circulated and provoked by its visual environment? This session is particularly interested in interdisciplinary approaches that explore connections in visual and material culture, architecture, and design theory.