Torren Gatson and Yao-Fen You Join Board of Governors

Mar 3, 2021

The Decorative Arts Trust is pleased to welcome Torren Gatson and Yao-Fen You to the Board of Governors.

Torren Gatson is an assistant professor in the department of history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. A native of Wilmington, DE, Gatson, completed his B.A. and M.A. from North Carolina Central University and his PhD from Middle Tennessee State University. Torren is a trained public historian and a scholar of U.S. southern history, with an emphasis in the 19th and 20th century African American built environment. He is a historic preservationist who conceptualizes the impact of African American material culture on the physical and cultural landscape. Torren works with communities to build lasting public products that reflect the dynamic and difficult aspects of African American history. At UNC Greensboro, Torren currently oversees second-year graduate capstone projects and contributes to the department of history’s award-winning public history program.

Torren guest-edited the 2020 special edition of the MESDA Journal focusing on African American material culture. Likewise, Torren has published scholarship on the built environment, among other works. Torren has also served as a reviewer for the Winterthur Portfolio. Recently, Torren, along with colleague Dr. Tiffany Momon, launched an ambitious project, the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive. This database seeks to thoroughly examine, document, and interpret the skilled craftsmanship of both enslaved and free persons of color on the southern landscape.

Torren believes that the Decorative Arts Trust’s most important contribution to the field is its simultaneous steadfast twofold approach of advocacy for the decorative arts while pouring into the future of the field through the Emerging Scholars Program. In his time on the Board, Torren’s goal is to engage in critical conversations that encompass inclusive narratives while fostering the dissemination of an appreciation and support of the decorative arts.

Yao-Fen You serves as Senior Curator and Head of the Product Design and Decorative Arts Department at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. She is responsible for national and international exhibitions, publications and education programs, as well as the development of the department’s collection. International in scope, the department contains a comprehensive ceramics collection, most notably European porcelain and earthenware, furniture, metalwork, lighting, glass, jewelry, models, architectural elements, and industrial design.

Yao-Fen joined the Cooper Hewitt following 10 years at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), where she was associate curator of European sculpture and decorative arts. From 2004 to 2007, You served as the Theodore Rousseau Post-Doctoral Fellow in European Paintings at the Fogg Art Museum/Harvard Art Museums. She has also held curatorial positions at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) in Ann Arbor and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Yao-Fen holds a PhD and master’s degree in the history of art from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a bachelor’s degree in the history of art from the University of California, Berkeley. A frequent author and invited speaker, Yao-Fen has lectured and participated in symposia and panels nationally and internationally. Her published scholarship reflects her diverse expertise in polychrome sculpture, the history of collecting and art markets, the art of dining, early modern textiles and fashion, and Northern European decorative arts.

Yao-Fen believes the Trust’s most important contribution to the field is a commitment to supporting professional development and scholarship at all career levels, but particularly for emerging scholars, which is unmatched. She is looking forward to launching, refining, and expanding the IDEAL internships, which will help the Trust cultivate a robust and thriving network of BIPOC mentors and mentees.

About The Decorative Arts Trust Bulletin

Formerly known as the "blog,” the Bulletin features new research and scholarship, travelogues, book reviews, and museum and gallery exhibitions. The Bulletin complements The Magazine of the Decorative Arts Trust, our biannual members publication.


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