Katherine (Katie) Bruhn

Katherine Bruhn studies modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art, with a focus on Indonesia. Her dissertation, tentatively titled, “Art World Making in Indonesia: A History of Minangkabau Artistic Production, 1926 – 2019” looks at the work of artists part of the Minangkabau ethnic group. One of Indonesia’s approximately 300 ethnic groups, Minangkabau is today synonymous with the province of West Sumatra and is recognized as the largest matrilineal Muslim society in the world. Through an examination of the creative labor, collective active, and migratory practice of Minangkabau artists from the late-colonial era to the present, Bruhn charts a historiography that highlights the relationship of Minangkabau artistic production to the natural world, Islam, ethnic identity, and Indonesia’s socio-political climate overtime. Along with her academic work, Bruhn has curated exhibitions in Singapore and Indonesia. She has also worked with the Indonesian Visual Art Archive and the National Gallery of Singapore to translate primary texts related to the modern and contemporary art history of Indonesia from Indonesian to English.

Title of Dissertation: 

Nature Acts as our Teacher: Minangkabau Aesthetics and Art World Making in Indonesia

Description of research/dissertation: 

Katherine Bruhn‘s research is focused on the history of Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art with a geographic focus on Indonesia. Her dissertation looks at processes of world-making from a subnational position through its examination of the lives and work of visual artists associated with Minangkabau, the ethnic group that is synonymous with the Indonesian province of West Sumatra. By engaging with local cosmologies and histories of transregional exchange, she shows how an attention to the natural world or the idea that nature acts as our teacher has informed the work of visual artists associated with Minangkabau over time.