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Biography: Catherine Raymond

Catherine Raymond

Dr. Catherine Raymond's Rakow Grant funding will be used to complete a manuscript on the reverse painting on glass tradition on the mainland of Southeast Asia, which will present the first com­prehensive account of an art form that has been known in the region since the 17th century.

The technique of reverse painting on glass trav­elled from Europe to China, and was then adopted across South and Southeast Asia, Dr. Raymond explains. In addition to the well-studied tradition of the Indonesian archipelago and the little-known tradition of mainland Southeast Asia, her research has uncovered a third tradition, which began with the gift of more than 100 reverse paintings on glass conveyed by the Dutch East India Company to the king of Thailand in 1686. By 1795, the king of Burma, who had invaded Thailand, was intrigued by reverse paintings on glass and wanted to investigate the technique by which they were made.

"As I was doing research ... in Burma, I discovered ... a 19th-century Buddhist temple, which possessed a unique installation of 200 reverse-­painted glass panes, still in situ on the walls," Dr. Raymond reports. The temple, called Wat Chong Klang, is located in Thailand at the border with Burma. "In 2015, while researching collections in Burma, I documented the work of the last village dedicated to making reverse paintings on glass ... With my students and colleagues, we interviewed elderly artists on their techniques [because] there is an urgent need to preserve and create a record of this vanishing art form."

Dr. Raymond, who earned her doctorate in art, archaeology, and Burmese studies from the University of Paris III, Sorbonne Nouvelle, is cu­rator of Southeast Asian reverse paintings on glass in the Burma Art Collection at Northern Illinois University. That collection includes a few dozen reverse paintings on glass. The university is plan­ning an exhibition and symposium on reverse paintings on glass for November 2018.