Sepia photograph of a man holding a cat on a country road







Issue 8

Give and Take



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Mary-Kim Arnold
Emily Banas
Pia Camil
John Dunnigan
Claudia J. Ford
Kate Irvin
Jared A. Goldstein
Lucinda Hitchcock
Jan Howard
Kate Irvin
Josie Johnson
Dominic Molon
Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi
Alexandra M. Peck
Robert W. Preucel
Wendy Red Star
Jessica Urick
Kelly Walters


Issue 8—Give and Take


The earliest known use of the expression “give and take” can be traced to horse racing. It referred to races in which larger, stronger horses carried more weight, and smaller ones, less. Implied therein is an accounting for relative capacities. In such a race, the goal remains the same—crossing the finish line first—but introducing this variable highlights the relationship between the competing horses. A win is only meaningful if each horse can be considered in relation to the others. We . . . find ourselves in a historical moment that makes our interconnectedness both more visible and more complex. Boundaries—physical, geographical, ideological—have become more porous, and the institutions that have provided structure—while always deeply flawed—have shown themselves to be more vulnerable than some of us would have liked to believe. Old systems are breaking down, giving way. New ones will take hold.

—Mary-Kim Arnold, from the introduction to Issue 8: Give and Take


From the Files

Art historian Josie Johnson charts the roles taken—and given—over the last six centuries by a wooden Madonna and Child.


Double Takes

Curatorial assistant Emily Banas and RISD professor John Dunnigan unlock an early 19th-century French drop-front secretary; curator Dominic Molon and graphic designer Kelly Walters analyze Living: Affluent college-bound students . . . by Jenny Holzer.


Object Lessons

Art historian Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi centers the bronze head of a king within the context of Benin visual history; anthropologists Robert W. Preucel and Alexandra M. Peck consider the history and meaning suspended in a Tlingit Thunderbird and Whale frontlet; scholar Claudia Ford accounts for the reciprocal exchange between hunting, Japanese printmaking, and Inuit artists; curator Kate Irvin untangles the intersecting threads of a Scottish Paisley shawl.



Lively banter between unlikely couples.


How To

Textile conservator Jessica Urick mends an ethereal 19th-century dress.


Artists on Art

A visual essay from Pia Camil; Wendy Red Star annotates photographs of the Diplomats of the Crow Nation.



Issue 8: Give and Take is supported in part by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional generous support is provided by the RISD Museum Associates and Sotheby’s.


RISD Museum Director: John W. Smith
Manual Editor-in-Chief: Sarah Ganz Blythe
Editor: Amy Pickworth
Art Director: Derek Schusterbauer
Graphic Designer: Tatiana Gomez Gaggero
Photographer: Erik Gould
Printer: GHP


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Cover image:

Gertrude Käsebier

Baron De Meyer with Cat (detail), 1903

Florence Koehler Collection