Public Programs

Remembrance, Commemoration & Myth-Making: A Critical Look at Monuments Today

On Tuesday, March 26, 2024, the American Federation of Arts partnered with The Art Students League of New York on a panel discussion inspired by the AFA’s traveling exhibition Monuments and Myths: The America of Sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Daniel Chester French.

The talk highlighted the perspectives of artists, curators, and scholars engaging with monuments and the ways in which they influence history, identity, and memory in contemporary contexts.



Andrew Eschelbacher, PhD | Director of Collections and Exhibitions, Amon Carter Museum of American Art

Featured Speakers:

Michele Bogart | Professor Emeritus of Art History, Stony Brook University

Wendy Nālani E. Ikemoto, PhD | Vice President & Chief Curator, New-York Historical Society Museum & Library

Alvin Pettit | Fine Arts Painter & Sculptor


For questions and additional information, please contact

About the speakers:

Andrew Eschelbacher (Moderator) serves as Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. In this role, Eschelbacher oversees the Carter’s Curatorial, Conservation, Publications, Archives, and Registration departments, as well as exhibition design, photo services, and preparations. Since joining the Carter in 2022, Eschelbacher has focused on advancing the Museum’s vision to tell more inclusive stories of American creativity by prioritizing vanguard scholarship, transformative acquisitions, and cross-departmental collaboration.

Eschelbacher previously served as Director of Curatorial Affairs at the American Federation of Arts (AFA) from 2020 to 2022 and has held positions as a Chester Dale Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Susan Donnell and Harry W. Konkel Associate Curator of European Art at the Portland Museum of Art (Portland, ME), and as an assistant professor of Art History at the Virginia Military Institute. Eschelbacher is an author and editor of numerous essays and catalogues, including Monuments and Myths: The America of Sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Daniel Chester French; A New American Sculpture: Lachaise, Laurent, Nadelman, and Zorach, and the forthcoming Farm to Table: Art, Food, and Identity in the Age of Impressionism.

Eschelbacher holds a PhD and Master of Arts in art history from the University of Maryland, College Park and Tulane University, respectively, as well as a Bachelor of Arts from Davidson College. 

Michele H. Bogart is Professor Emeritus of Art History and visual culture at Stony Brook University. Her areas of expertise include urban design and commercial culture, and she has published on public art, memorials, animation, landscape and garden history, photography, illustration and advertising. Bogart is author of Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City, 1890-1930 (1989/1997), recipient of the 1991 Charles C. Eldredge Prize; Artists, Advertising, and the Borders of Art (1995); The Politics of Urban Beauty: New York and Its Art Commission (2006), and Sculpture in Gotham: Art and Urban Renewal in New York (2018). She was Leon Levy Senior Fellow at the Frick Center for the History of Collecting in America (2020), has held fellowships from the Smithsonian Institution, National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, Norman Rockwell Center for Visual Studies and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and was Terra Foundation Visiting Professor of American Art at the JFK Institut, Freie Universität von Berlin. From 1999 through 2003 she was Vice President of the Art Commission of the City of New York (since renamed the Public Design Commission), the City’s design review agency. Bogart presently serves on the PDC’s Conservation Advisory Group and the board of directors for the New York Preservation Archive Project. She was exhibition advisor and essayist for “Imprinted: Race and Illustration” (2022) at the Norman Rockwell Museum, and is author of recent articles on Brooklyn’s Lafayette Memorial, and on the early statues of Central Park.

Photo: Neenah Moon

Wendy Nālani E. Ikemoto, PhD, is Vice President and Chief Curator at the New-York Historical Society, where she leads the museum division. She has curated such exhibitions as Kay WalkingStick / Hudson River School; Nature, Crisis, Consequence; Monuments: Commemoration and Controversy; Dreaming Together: New-York Historical Society and Asia Society Museum; and the award-winning Scenes of New York City: The Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection. She oversees the museum’s paintings, sculpture, and drawings collections and has spearheaded several major acquisitions, including works by Betye Saar, Augusta Savage, Oscar yi Hou, Kay WalkingStick, Robert Kobayashi, and Livien Yin. Ikemoto established the institution’s Meet the Curator program to make curators accessible to the visiting public and helped to develop and teach in the Master of Arts in Museum Studies program created jointly between N-YHS and the City University of New York School of Professional Studies. She holds a BA in Art History from Stanford University and an AM and PhD in the History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University.

Alvin Pettit, a Baltimore native and Jersey City based artist, has established himself in the field of fine arts for over 30 years, and uses his talents as a tool for social change. Pettit graduated high school from the Baltimore School for the Arts in 1988, and then relocated to New York where he attended the School of Visual Arts, earning his BFA in 1992. His professional career began in 1994, after being hired as an assistant sculptor to world-renowned artist Jeff Koons. He later solidified his reputation as a prolific creator by producing commercial illustrations and sculptures for clients such as NBC, Today’s Black Woman Magazine, the Museum of Natural History, Macy’s Parade, Saks Fifth Avenue, and more. From 2006 to 2010, Pettit was an instructor at the Kubert School of Design, where he trained students to become professional illustrators for companies such as Marvel and DC comics.

In 2013, Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey City appointed Pettit as Director of the Mary McLeod Bethune Life Center. Since then, he has spearheaded the Center’s transformation into one of the most revered cultural epicenters in the city. Pettit currently serves on the executive boards of the Jersey City Arts Council, the Jersey City Artist Certification Board, and the Jersey City Public Art Advisory Board. Some of his recent achievements include the creation of Jersey City’s 11½ft’ Mary McLeod Bethune Sculpture in 2021, and most recently he was selected to create the official Harriet Tubman Monument for the City of Philadelphia, PA.


Co-hosted by The Art Students League of New York.


AFA Public programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. These programs are also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. We are also grateful for the support of the American Chai Trust.




More Events