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Assistant Professor of Art History Amy Buono Wins Fellowship from Brown University

Buono Will Spend Two Months This Summer in Providence, Rhode Island Researching the Tupinambá

by Miranda Dunn (B.F.A. Art History '10)

Assistant Professor of Art History Amy Buono has been awarded a New World Comparative Studies Fellowship from the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. She will spend two months this summer at the library in Providence, Rhode Island, doing research on the 16th and 17th century art of the Tupinambá, the coastal indigenous Brazilian communities.

The John Carter Brown Library is independently funded and boasts one of the world’s most extensive collections of primary documents relating to the discovery and colonization of the new world. The library’s mission is to “make its incomparable collection available to the world’s scholars, and to provide the wherewithal that will allow them to journey from distant places to Providence.”

The library’s collection is of particular importance to Professor Buono because of the subject of her forthcoming book, Plumed Identities and Feathered Performances: Tupinambá Interculture in Early Modern Brazil and Europe. The Tupinambá people were known for their magnificent featherwork art, but only eleven of their feather garments survive today. Most of these artifacts are now in European collections because they were bought and sold in colonial marketplaces. The Brown Library collection is home to a vast collection of Brazilian texts. Professor Buono has traveled to Europe to inspect the remaining featherwork garments of the Tupinambá and has worked with ornithologists as well as conservators in her research and analysis. The Tupi used various techniques to procure the feathers and even used various concoctions on live birds to alter the colors of their feathers. Research has shown that these garments were used in court festivals in Europe, and Professor Buono will continue to investigate their significance in colonial Brazil and early modern Europe.

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