Project destcription

How did transatlantic exchanges between Central Europe and the United States impact pedagogy and design?

Connecting aspects of design and women’s history, pedagogy, migration history and cultural transfer, this event series seeks to establish a critical overview of the achievements of migrant women designers who moved to the United States from Central Europe in the first half of the 20 th century. It addresses how ideas related to design and pedagogy that were consolidated in Central Europe were developed and disseminated by designers who began second careers in the United States after emigration. By shedding further light on the transatlantic connections that represented an important aspect in the careers of many of these designers, the event series shows that their careers continued to develop in emigration and highlights that the contributions of female migrant artists played a significant role in advancing design and pedagogy in the United States. The project invites proposals for papers analysing examples and case studies about transatlantic exchanges in pedagogy and design with a focus on Central Europe and the United States.

Specific questions that might be addressed include, for example:

  • How and why were female designers funnelled into particular trajectories (i.e. specializations in teaching children or particular fields of design)?
  • Which opportunities were open to women designers upon arrival in the United States?
  • How was their education in Central Europe formative for their second careers?
  • Which impact did the women have, through teaching and practice, on the history of American design?

The project is sponsored by the Botstiber Institute for Austrian-American Studies (BIAAS) and comprises of an online event series, a blog and podcast, as well as an online exhibition. Selected paper from the event series will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Austrian-American History.

Event series – programme

A serial online symposium about transatlantic changes in Design and pedagogy between Central Europe to the United States Lecture series.

2 March – 12 April

All events will take place online on Zoom at 6pm CET (Vienna) / noon EST (New York)

Thursday, 2 March: KEYNOTE 

 Ceramicist Vally Wieselthier and Orientalism in Vienna in the Interwar PeriodElana Shapira (University of the Applied Arts, Vienna)

Thursday, 9 MArch: Cultural transfers in art and pedagogy 

From Secessionist Vienna to Postwar America: Emmy Zweybrück, Franz Cizek and the Cult of Child Creativity – Megan Brandow-Faller (CUNY, New York)

Felice Rix-Ueno at the MOMA: American documentation of the cultural transfer between Vienna and Japan – Anne-Katrin Rossberg (MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna)

Thursday, 16 MArch: The čižek school in the united states 

Wiener Werkstätte and Czech  Cubism  – Form Art of the k. k. Monarchy in the international KontextAlexander Klee (Belvedere Museum, Vienna)

Franz Čižek (1865-1946): Pioneer of Art Education – Wanda Bubriski (Independent Scholar)

Viennese Children’s Creativity Across the Atlantic. Popularization of art from the Franz Čižek class by female charity workersJulia Harasimowicz (University of Warsaw)

Thursday, 23 MArch: Careers and networks after migration 

Lisl Weil: Drawing up a New LifeJulia Secklehner (Masaryk University, Brno)

Friederike Beer-Monti and the Artists’ GalleryJanis Staggs (Neue Galerie, New York) 

Thursday, 30 MArch: designing new Careers 

Liane Zimbler: From Viennese Sentimental Interior to California Mid-Century ModernismLadislav Jackson (Brno University of Technology, Brno)

Eva Zeisel, 1906 – 2011 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City 1946Joyce Corbett (Independent Scholar, San Diego)

Thursday, 6 April: kEYNOTE

 Anna Lesznai and Mariska Undi: A Comparison of Transatlantic EncountersRebecca Houze (Northern Illinois University, Chicago)

Wednesday, 12 April: Roundtable Discussion

“Women Designers and Pedagogues at the Centre of Transatlantic Approaches to Design History”

with keynotes, curators and filmmaker Elena Goatelli


The  Salon – podcasts

Episode 1

In the first episode of the podcast ‘The Salon’, Megan Brandow-Faller and Julia Secklehner discuss the main ideas for ‘Creativity from Vienna to the World’ and introduce some of the women designers that the project puts in focus.

Episode 2

 In this episode, Megan Brandow-Faller talks to Dr Elana Shapira, who will be giving a keynote lecture for the “Creativity from Vienna to the World” event series on Thursday, 2 March 2023, about orientalism in the work of ceramicist Vally Wieselthier. 

Episode 3

In this episode, Julia Secklehner talks to Professor Rebecca Houze, whose keynote for the “Creativity from Vienna to the World” event series on Thursday, 6 April 2023, focuses on transatlantic encounters in the work of Anna Lesznai and Mariska Undi. 

Episode 4

In this episode, filmmaker and scriptwriter Elena Goatelli talks about her film „Looking for Erika“, an „artistic thriller“ documentary about the artist Erika Giovanna Klien (1900–1957), who started her career in Vienna before moving to the United States in 1929. Find the trailer to the film here. Elena Goatelli will be part of the roundtable discussion on 12 April 2023


Episode 5

 Joseph Koerner (Harvard) sits down with Megan Brandow-Faller (CUNY) to discuss the cultural memory of Secessionist Vienna, history, art history and (auto)biography. Their conversation covers Prof Koerner’s award-winning documentary The Burning Child (now available on amazon prime), which interweaves his own family’s story with that of the modernist movement itself; Prof Koerner’s childhood in Vienna and Pittsburgh; and the recent rediscovery of the particularly Jewish character of Vienna 1900.


Episode 6

In this episode, Megan Brandow-Faller (CUNY) chats with Frances Tanzer (Clark University) on the promotion of Egon Schiele by Austro-American emigres like Otto Kallir and Kallir’s broader attempts to recover a liberal version of Austria untainted by National Socialism. Also covered is Tanzer’s forthcoming book (Univ Pennsylvanis Press) entitled “Vanishing Vienna: Jewish Absence in Postwar Central Europe,” which analyzes the fraught attempts to restore the cultural dynamism of pre-Nazi Vienna as Austrians and Jews reimagined themselves and Central European culture after the Holocaust.


Episode 7

In this episode, Elizabeth Otto  (University of Buffalo) chats to Julia Secklehner about her latest research on art therapy in Europe and the United States with a special focus on the social realist painter and art therapist Edith Kramer (1916-2014).



Episode 8

In this episode Michelle Jackson-Beckett (Columbia University) chats with Julia Secklehner about transatlantic transfers in design in the work of architects such as Ernst Lichtblau (1883-1963). She also introduces some of the debates surrounding both rejections and revisions of modernist ideals in exhibitions of Viennese interior design and housing between 1918 and 1938, which are the focus of her forthcoming monograph with Oxford University Press.