Ann W. Norton
Professor Emerita of Humanities in Art History
Department of Art History
Non-Western Art and Culture
Ph.D. – New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts
Area(s) of Expertise (and links):
Asian Art, Buddhist Art and Culture, Islamic Art and Culture, History of Architecture and Design.
Article published in ARAS Connections Issue 2, 2017
Following Bronze-Age Migrations
The spring 2017 Development of North American Architecture class was co-taught by Art History Professor Ann Norton and Studio Art Professor Eric Sung. The class focused on discovering architectural landmarks in Rhode Island, especially Art Deco buildings some of which are currently in danger of being demolished. The students learned about the historical buildings, photographed them extensively and created this website. The purpose of the website is to help promote the importance of preserving these architectural treasures in Rhode Island.
Survey of North American Architecture in Rhode Island (Art Deco)
Professor Ann Norton received her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College, and both her M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. She also holds a Diploma from the C.G. Jung Institute for Jungian Psychology. She teaches interdisciplinary courses in Asian art and culture as well as in modern architecture and design. She has taught at Providence College since 1989, and was Director of Asian Studies from 1992 to 2004.
Direct experience of Asian cultures has been vital throughout her teaching career. From 1964 to 1967 she lived in Dacca, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), where she taught architectural history at Dacca University ’s School of Engineering and Architecture. In 1980-81 she researched Jain art and architecture in India, and in 1992 she lead groups studying ‘sacred space’ in Indonesia. Her early interest in ‘art after war and displacement’ was reflected in various projects concerning Tibetan art and culture.
Inspired by the many refugees of Cambodia ’s “Killing Fields,” in June, 2001, Professor Norton did field study in Cambodia to study contemporary Cambodian arts. That research resulted in two exhibitions and a program “The Spirit of Cambodia …a tribute” in Providence. Her work with diaspora Cambodians led her to also meet with Cambodian artists living in France in 2003. View her work on the Contemporary Cambodian Art site.
Professor Norton’s research into the contemporary arts of Afghanistan has grown out of a focus on Islamic culture in relation to the present wars. She has developed a collection of Afghan ‘war’ rugs and related artifacts which was part of an exhibition and program opening in January, 2009.
In March, 2007, Dr. Norton visited Afghanistan with the Women’s Delegation of Global Exchange. In Kabul, she saw schools for girls, particularly refugees who had been denied education during Taliban rule. She observed that traditional handicrafts are an important part of the renewal of Afghan culture.
Current Interests and Ongoing Research:
In the summers of 2010 and 2011 Dr. Norton traveled to Ulaanbaatar, Outer Mongolia. Her original goal was to observe the resurgence of Buddhism after decades of Communist Russia’s purges and persecutions. The resilience of Mongolian Buddhism was clear in both art and practice. What also became evident was the strong continuity of indigenous Shamanism, a belief that dates back millennia. In the Winter of 2010/2011, Dr. Norton curated an exhibition in Providence College’s Reilly Gallery, “The Arts of Outer Mongolia.” Dr. Norton is continuing to investigate the various links between the Steppe Region and the booted Sun-God, whose images reached as far as India’s Bengal.
Buddhist Art and Culture
Islamic Art and Culture
Cambodian Art and Culture
Architecture, Culture, Design
Frank Lloyd Wright
Selected Curriculum Vitae:
Exhibitions and Conference Presentations:
Exhibition Curator, “The Arts of Outer Mongolia,” Providence College, 2011.
Exhibition Curator, “Women’s Art After War,” Providence College, Fall, 2004.
Exhibition Curator, “Honoring the Native American: Portraits by Jack Wolfe,” Providence College, Fall, 2005.
Organizer and Curator, “The Spirit of Cambodia …a tribute,” Providence College and Rhode Island Foundation, October, 2002-January 2003.
Guest Curator, “Mystical Arts of Tibet,” William Benton Museum, University of Connecticut, January-March, 2002.
Organizer, “Tibetan Buddhism at Providence College,” October/November, 2000.
Guest Curator, “The Nuns’ Circle: Women, Art and the Buddhist Spirit,” Widener Gallery, Trinity College, Hartford, January/March, 1998.
“The Spirit of Cambodia …a tribute,” exhibition catalogue, Providence College, 2002.
“Mystical Arts of Tibet,” exhibition brochure, William Benton Museum, University of Connecticut, 2002.
“The Gift,” invited essay for brochure of WaterFire, Providence , 2001.
“Women, Art, and the Buddhist Spirit,” in Women’s Buddhism, Buddhism’s Women, edited by E. Findly, Wisdom Publications, 2000.
“India : Village Art,” commissioned by The Dictionary of Art, Macmillan Pub., London , 1995.
Gods, Saints & Demons: Sacred Art of India and Tibet , William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut , 1989.
“The Indian Collection (Hinduism) of the Volkerkundemuseum der Universitat Zurich ,” in Ethnologische Zeitschrift Zurich , vol. II, 1972.
Building Communities in Gujarat: Architecture during the Twelfth through Fourteenth Centurues, by Alka Patel, in The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 66, #2, May, 2007.
The Civilization of Angkor, by Charles Higham, in Persimmon, Vol. III, #2, Summer, 2002.
China’s Living Houses: Folk Beliefs, Symbols, and Household Ornamentation, by Ronald G. Knapp, in Education About Asia, Fall, 2000.
Father India: How Encounters With an Ancient Culture Transformed the Modern West, by Jeffrey Paine, in Providence: Studies in Western Civilization, Winter, 1999.
The Art of Ancient India and “Pala-Sena” Schools of Sculpture, by Susan Huntington, in The Art Bulletin, September, 1989.
The Passion of Al-Hallaj: Mystic and Martyr of Islam, by Louis Massignon, in Quadrant, #17/1, Spring, 1984.
….” The pearl of wisdom is better than any jewel you have in your safe.”
-Hafiz of Shiraz
My travels have broadened my insight of and respect for other cultures; my background in Jungian psychology has made me more deeply aware of the power of the human spirit. Through my teaching I try to bridge the arts with cultural context. I believe that an interdisciplinary approach to learning affords a valuable preparation for students to live in and contribute to our complex global society.
Installation, Musee Picardie, Amiens, France, Sol LeWitt, 1992. Sol LeWitt’s colorful treatment of space is a remarkable melding of design and architecture.