The Global Studies Seminar presents a talk titled “Temples on the Move: Indian Domestic Shrines in American Museum Collections,” by John Cort, professor of religion at Denison.
Gujarati Jain wooden house shrines (ghar derasars) are among the wonders of Indian sculpture but have been little studied, and so are not very well known. Why, therefore, are there at least ten of them in American museum collections? Answering this puzzle led Cort to investigate the life and career of Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932). De Forest was the last of the Hudson River painters, and also a well-known Arts and Crafts designer in late-19th and early-20th century America. Much of his design work incorporated Gujarati wood carving, which he imported to the U.S. in collaboration with the Ahmedabad Wood Carving Company. De Forest’s interest in Gujarati wood carving also led to him arranging for some masterpieces of this craft to enter into American and British museum collections, which helped to spark an interest in Gujarati wood carving among American art collectors.
Cort has taught at Denison in Religion, East Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, and International Studies since 1992, and holds the Judy Gentili Chair in International Studies Program.