Pacific Encounters
February 24, 2023

The Pacific, California’s neighbor to the west, is largest of the planet’s oceans and home to many societies and cultures. Pacific peoples have for centuries connected to each other and to the bigger world, despite vast expanses involved in traversing this region of the globe. The Pacific is also the site of fanciful modern projection: a space of tourist appeal, strategic political value, philosophical speculation, and colonial exploitation.  The arts of Pacific peoples give insight into this region’s histories and can foster better understanding of its importance. The 2023 Templeton Colloquium in Art History takes as its theme an ocean as an art-historical space. Emphasis will be on Hawaiian and Māori societies, which invite deeper consideration of this fascinating global sector and its visual culture.  

The 2023 Templeton Colloquium in Art History will be held at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art on Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. with a reception to follow. 

Read more about the colloquium in the latest L&S Arts Newsletter.


Stacy Kamehiro, Associate Professor in History of Art and Visual Culture at UC Santa Cruz, is currently working on a book project, Objects of the Nation: Hawaiʻi at the World Fairs, which examines collections and exhibitions of Hawaiian material culture and natural history in local and international contexts. Her recent scholarship attends to the politics of art organizations following the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy; the place of overseas travel in Kalākaua’s efforts to maintain Hawaiʻi’s independence; the roles of Hawaiian featherwork as cultural affirmation, political statement, and historical subject; and US empire and art history. She has also published on textiles, architecture, racialized advertising images in nineteenth-century American trade card lithography, and scientific images produced during Pacific voyaging expeditions. She is also the executive editor of Pacific Arts: Journal of the Pacific Arts Association.

Kamehiro’s talk will address “Worlding the Kingdom of Hawai`i: King Kalākaua and the Art of International Relations.”

Kailani Polzak is an Assistant Professor in History of Art and Visual Culture at UC Santa Cruz. Polzak’s research focuses on European visual culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with particular attention to histories of science, aesthetic philosophy, race, colonialism, and intercultural contact in Oceania. Her current book project, Difference Over Distance: Visualizing Contact between Europe and Oceania, examines the graphic and printed works created in relation to so-called “Voyages of Discovery” conducted by Britain, France, and Russia in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, and Hawaiʻi in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. 

Polzak’s presentation will discuss “Regarding Kamehameha I: Class, Gender, and Genre in the Portrait(s) by Louis Choris.”

Ngarino Ellis is an Associate Professor in Art History at University of Auckland, New Zealand whose field of research is in Māori art history with a focus on identifying, promoting and recuperating matauranga in relation to art forms, art practices, artists and theories. Her new project, entitled Nga Taonga o Wharawhara: The Worlds of Maori Body Adornment, brings together oral, taonga and archival research into the ceremonial, political and economic roles in Maori communities. Ellis explores how adornments made from wood, bone, stone, shell and pounamu as well as harakeke and feathers were worn in and through the body, including mata whakarewa/skin painting, and to discover ancestral practices and taonga which can reveal new understandings of our past, as well as the importance of the continuum as adornments are made today.

Ngarino will present “Taonga Paraoa, taonga Pasifika, taonga Māori: Tracing the ancestors through Māori art history.”

The respondent will be Jennifer Wagelie, Academic Liaison at the Manetti Shrem Museum. Wagelie’s area of study is the art of the Pacific Islands, specifically Māori taonga (art), with other research interests in the history of museums, collections, and exhibitions. She is the co-editor of the 2021 publication Mannequins and Museums: Power and Resistance on Display, and her current research focuses on the early twentieth-century English ethnographic dealer William O. Oldman.

The colloquium is made possible through an endowment established by Alan Templeton (B.A., art history and psychology, ‘82).

Organized and moderated by Michael Yonan, professor of art history and Alan Templeton Endowed Chair in the History of European Art, 1600–1830, UC Davis. This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History and the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art.

Media contact: Michael Yonan, professor of art history, UC Davis

View all UCD Arts departments and programs

Melody Chiang


Melody Chiang


Melody Chiang

Cinema and Digital Media

Melody Chiang


Melody Chiang


Melody Chiang

and Dance

Melody Chiang

Performance Studies

Melody Chiang


Melody Chiang


Melody Chiang

UC Davis Arts