Skip to main content

Search NYU Steinhardt

Barney Building Hosts Fifth Occult Humanities Conference

Participants in the 2023 Occult Humanities Conference gather in the Commons gallery in the Barney Building on Stuyvesant Street.

Image courtesy Jesse Bransford via Instagram

In October, Steinhardt’s Department of Art and Art Professions hosted the fifth Occult Humanities Conference.

Welcoming artists and academics from many different disciplines, the two-day event explored the occult through the lenses of various belief systems, spiritual traditions, and visual cultures.

Though historically marginalized, occult traditions have become a rich area of interest for interdisciplinary scholarship in the arts and humanities. Jesse Bransford, Clinical Professor of Visual Arts and Director of the BFA Studio Art Program, has been co-organizing the Occult Humanities Conference since 2013.

“The Conference is always a special and eclectic weekend, and I was especially excited about this year’s program,” said Bransford. “We had presentations from scholars and practitioners in fields of visual art, horror, poetry, and history. We also offered our first-ever aura photo booth.”

Many parts of the conference were open to the general public, including the exhibition EARTH AIR FIRE WATER PAPER: Material of the 20th Century Occult Explosion, which showcased objects from private collections and the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick. A vending area offered visitors the opportunity to peruse and purchase esoteric books, crafts, and other curated wares.

Participants in the 2023 Occult Humanities Conference view a presentation in the Einstein Auditorium in the Barney Building

Image courtesy Jesse Bransford via Instagram

The conference received overwhelming interest—tickets sold out in early October, and the event was mentioned in the New York Times. “The people, the presentations, the shared interest and sense of purpose have me walking on air,” said Professor Bransford.

Related Programs

Studio Art

Our Studio Art program is at the forefront of contemporary art practice, with MFA and BFA degrees and two undergraduate minor concentrations in the field of visual arts.

Read More