Fellows in Residence, 2014-2015

Lauren Applebaum

Joe and Wanda Corn Predoctoral Fellow, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Elusive Matter, Material Bodies: American Art in the Age of Electronic Mediation, 1865–1918

My dissertation examines how American art, from paintings to quilts and decorative desk sets, engaged early electronic telecommunication practices between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Drawing on information theory, I conceive of such objects as active agents of communication that negotiated the shifting nature of social connection bridged by new technologies like the telegraph and telephone. As society attempted to locate and understand the modern communal spaces engendered by these technologies, I argue that artistic production became a crucial outlet for coming to terms with their functional logic and social implications in a perceivable form. While the fluid transmission of information over vast distances purported to provide democratic access, the artists of my study show just how uncertain these aspirations of equality and interconnectivity actually were. Due to its precarious form, the elusive matter of electronic mediation became the very figure for this uncertainty. Though invisible as a raw material, its presence in the spaces between social and national bodies is deeply inscribed in material and visual culture. Frederic Church explores the geographic and geologic resonance of the transatlantic telegraph, marking a moment at the end of the Civil War when the nation was constructing a new identity for a global audience. Enoch Wood Perry calls upon traditional women’s craft practices to articulate the awkward intrusion of the telephone, which threatened to dismantle the barrier between public and private spheres. John Frederick Peto contemplates the shortened life of information in an ever-expanding media landscape, foregrounding the overlaps between haptic and virtual modes of exchange. And Louis Comfort Tiffany attempts to naturalize electronic systems of discourse during a time of major expansion for telecommunication networks such as AT&T.

Kirill Chunikhin

Terra Foundation Predoctoral Fellow in American Art, Jacobs University Bremen

Representation and Reception of American Visual Art in the USSR during the Cold War

My research project examines the strategies of exhibiting American visual art in Soviet museums from 1950 to the 1990s. The representation of American visual art in the Soviet Union is traditionally discussed mainly within the context of the legendary 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow. However, the display of American art in the Cold-War USSR was extensive and cannot be reduced to this show due to the fact that more than twenty-five exhibitions of American art took place in Soviet museums between 1957 and 1991. These still unexamined shows, displayed in major Soviet cities (Leningrad, Moscow, Kiev, etc.), acquainted Soviet viewers with American art from Gilbert Stuart to Robert Rauschenberg. As a rule, various official institutions (USIA, VOKS, etc.) were involved in organizing these shows because both the Soviet Union and the United States took advantage of art as a tool of politics and as a weapon in the ideological battles of the Cold War.

This research project is part of my PhD dissertation, “The Representation and Reception of American Visual Art in the USSR during the Cold War.” Focusing on a social history of art, it is the first study to provide a detailed analysis of the ways in which American art was displayed and perceived in the USSR during the Cold War.

Jennifer Cohen

William H. Truettner Predoctoral Fellow, University of Chicago

Fantastic Boxes: Shop Windows and Surrealist Space in Wartime New York

The design of surrealist shop windows advertising goods from dresses to books flourished in New York City during the 1930s and 40s, authored by well-known figures such as Salvador Dalí and Marcel Duchamp alongside ordinary window dressers. Intimately connected to the aesthetics of space being explored concurrently by the interior designer and architect Frederick Kiesler and the artist Joseph Cornell, these windows became a model for subsequent endeavors in “surrealist space,” whether in pictorial representation or in three-dimensional construction. By historically tracing the surrealist impulse beyond the picture plane through this period of temporary exile in the United States during the Spanish Civil War and World War II, I will situate postwar European Surrealism relative to American influences and implications, elucidating the importance of window dressing, and fashion more generally, to the aesthetic and utopian ambitions of the movement.

Laura Fravel

George Gurney Predoctoral Fellow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Gazing Westward: The Quest for Unity in American Art Displays at the World’s Fairs, 1876–1916

My dissertation addresses the systematic use of frontier imagery in American art displays at the World’s Fairs held in the United States, from the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 to the Panama-Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco in 1915. 1 I argue that representations of the American West created an ideologically fertile ground on which to unify the North and South after the Civil War, promote the economic growth of urban centers in the West, and win support for expansionist and imperialist policies on both a national and an international stage. Focusing on paintings and sculptures in the Fine Arts Departments as well as monumental sculptures located on the grounds of World’s Fairs, I consider the strategies employed by fair organizers to select and arrange works of art in such a way as to link the taming of the frontier with the progress of American civilization.

I accordingly examine works produced by a series of artists known for their representations of the frontier, including Thomas Hill (1829–1908), William Keith (1838–1911), Amédée Joullin (1862–1917), Cyrus Dallin (1861–1944), Frederic Remington (1861–1909), and Solon Borglum (1868–1922), as contributions to broader western spectacles organized through the varied attractions, displays, and programs of the fairs. In so doing, I concentrate on World’s Fairs that sought to promote cities that had themselves once been on the frontier: the World’s Industrial and Cotton Exhibition in New Orleans in 1884, the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, the California Midwinter International Exposition in San Francisco in 1894, the TransMississippi Exposition in Omaha in 1898, and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904. In contextualizing paintings and sculptures within the larger projects of these fairs’ organizers, I consider the ways in which individual artists and works adhered to and simultaneously complicated the expansionist rhetoric of the expositions.

Diana Greenwald

Predoctoral Fellow, University of Oxford

Charting a Canonical Trajectory: Understanding Structural Constraints and Sample Bias in the Study of Nineteenth-Century American Art

Art history often focuses on the study of masterpieces—art that is preserved in the world’s greatest museums. Art historians rarely discuss how and why this art has been preserved, often assuming that this art is simply intrinsically superior. They do not discuss that these works of art are also those that have bested the wars, collectors’ foibles, bad reviews, and other structural challenges that are persistent obstacles to preservation. The failure to recognize and explore these mitigating factors introduces an endemic sample bias into the study of art history: scholars generally study the extant and the famous, and rarely ask questions about the artwork that did not survive or is not well known and easily accessible. This dissertation uses quantitative methods to study these unknown works of art and the structural factors that shaped their trajectory.

A combination of new primary sources and the use of statistical methods novel to art history make tackling this question possible. The primary sources for this data are indices of exhibitions around the United States during the nineteenth century. With this data, it is possible to chart various metrics about exhibition and collecting behaviors and their effects on artistic output. In particular, this project will focus on the influence of a wide range of collectors—many of whom are listed in the exhibition indices—on the types of artwork produced and whether or not a certain artist or artwork is still famous today.

Patrick Hagopian

Patricia and Phillip Frost Senior Fellow, Lancaster University

The Concept of the Heroic in Recent Commemorative Public Statuary in Washington, D.C.

This project will interrogate the concept of the heroic in recent commemorative sculpture in Washington, D.C., taking as case studies the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the United States Navy Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the National World War II Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. In it, I will assess the disagreements between non-expert constituencies, such as military veterans and family members of commemorated individuals, on the one hand, and experts such as designers, art critics, and members of the statutory agencies that oversee the commemorative landscape of Washington, D.C., on the other.

The study will explore the philosophical underpinnings of those arguments by testing the hypothesis that non-experts perceive monumental sculpture to be the form of commemorative public art best suited to the portrayal of heroism: that representational sculpture is intrinsically a heroic form, and that offering something other than large-scale statuary implicitly undervalues those being commemorated. The objective of the research is to investigate how expert and non-expert understandings of public commemoration interact with other fault lines such as political differences and conflicts between tradition and modernity, and to identify the results of these debates in the designs of completed memorials.

Nicholas Hartigan

CIC-Smithsonian Predoctoral Fellow, University of Michigan

The Changing Function of Public Sculpture

My research focuses on changes in the aspiration and rationale behind American public sculpture, from its boom in the late 1960s and early 1970s until the mid-1990s. The field of public sculpture experienced a marked increase in activity and interest from artists and commissioning bodies during the late 1960s. Since that time, public sculpture has grown in number and diversity but has also become much more limited in its stated goals and purpose. This development has been defined by a greater consideration for the unique qualities of a site and the identity of the public whom it addresses. These changes raise fundamental questions about the role of sculpture in an urban environment.

In order to analyze these issues, I deal with the phenomenon of public sculpture at two levels. First, I examine the larger cultural and ideological factors that motivated public and semi-public entities to commission sculptures for public spaces. What were these artworks meant to accomplish, and why were they deserving of resources and support? Second, I take up the nature of the art world’s interest and investment in these projects. For many artists, these commissions represented the first opportunity to create sculptures at a massive scale with access to a wide and diverse population. The strategies and ideas of how to engage those people changed quite a bit, even while the format of public sculpture persisted and grew. The shifts that took place in the form and ambition of public sculpture played out quite differently in cultural/ideological and artistic arenas; often, they conflicted. Investigating and integrating these two perspectives allows me to address the proliferation of public sculpture across America, and focus on changes in the rationale, justification, and expectation for that work.

Katherine Jentleson

Douglass Foundation Predoctoral Fellow in American Art, Duke University

Gatecrashers: The First Generation of Outsider Artists in America

Interest in the work of untrained American artists has surged recently with exhibitions and commentary on outsider art appearing everywhere from the Venice Biennale to the pages of The New Yorker. Yet enthusiasm for this oxymoronically named subcategory of modern and contemporary art is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the American art world’s fascination with self-taught artists began more than three quarters of a century ago. My dissertation is a critical interpretation of how and why American artists without formal training first “crashed the gates” of the art establishment between 1927 and 1943. By analyzing the work and reception histories of William Edmondson (1874–1951), Morris Hirshfield (1872–1946), John Kane (1860–1934), Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860– 1961), and Horace Pippin (1888–1946), I demonstrate how the same social and cultural forces that catalyzed other developments within the pluralistic landscape of interwar modernism—such as nationalism, populism, and modernist primitivism—governed the rise of this first generation of institutionally recognized untrained artists. In addition to my five artist case studies, which capture the rise, climax, and decline of interwar interest in autodidacts, I also use network visualizations of institutional collections to analyze how the presence of self-taught artists in American museums has developed since the 1930s. By combining American cultural history with empirical quantitative methods, my dissertation offers an unprecedented study of both the roots and evolution of American outsider art.

Hayan Kim

Predoctoral Fellow, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Play: Early Video Art and the American Television Ecosystem

This dissertation explores early video art’s visualization of subjectivity as a transformative process, echoing the rise of political consciousness and ecological awareness of the self vis-à-vis social and media systems in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. Artists challenged the belief that subjects exist as unchanging beings, and began to conceptualize subjectivity as an ever-mutating assemblage of heterogeneous traits. This project argues that three American artists—Nam June Paik, Dan Graham, and Dara Birnbaum—and two collectives, TVTV and Videofreex, used the then-novel medium of video to exhibit this newly conceived notion of subjectivity, while resisting the increasingly powerful culture industry, especially the homogenizing and infantilizing effects of network television. My dissertation analyzes not only their videos’ visual language, but also various actions involved in the production and reception processes, as gestures of resistance against passive viewership.

The first chapter examines Nam June Paik’s video works, within which an individual functions as an active processor of information through his or her own action of creating and transforming electronic images on a TV monitor. Chapter two looks at the body in Dan Graham’s video performance as a central agent in breaking the uncritical identification of self with stereotypes and commodities on corporate television. In the third chapter, I argue that Videofreex and TVTV’s use of shaky handheld cameras produced a visual language addressing subjectivity as social and political, rather than individual and solipsistic. The fourth chapter investigates Dara Birnbaum’s appropriation of network television images. I connect her work to remix and mash-up videos on the Internet, and examine individuals’ deliberate reconfigurations of existing audiovisual information in a media spectacle.

These four chapters together argue that the artists’ and collectives’ works engaged the individual’s action as a varying factor in the circulation of visual information, thus diversifying the ecosystems of media and society. Furthermore, this dissertation situates their artistic practices within the sociocultural history of America in the 1960s and 1970s, when the big three networks’ (ABC, CBS, and NBC) oligopoly drew criticism both from the industry and the public, who clamored for more diverse and democratic television programming.

Ellen Macfarlane

Predoctoral Fellow, Princeton University

Seeing Plus: Group f.64 Photography and the Political

In 1934, the American photographer Ansel Adams wrote to his friend and colleague Edward Weston regarding the social import of rocks: “I still believe there is a real social significance in a rock—a more important social significance therein than in a line of unemployed.” (1) This statement serves as a point of departure for my dissertation, which investigates the ways in which Group f.64, a San Francisco-based photography collective founded in 1932, created “straight” art photography that also possessed political value. Best known today for their glossy and sharp-focus views of exotic plants, everyday objects, and California landscapes, f. 64’s members, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, John Paul Edwards, Sonia Noskowiak, Henry Swift, Willard Van Dyke, and Edward Weston, in fact championed a radical American photographic style devoted to carefully composed view camera close-ups of natural forms in the midst of the Great Depression and widespread images of human suffering in the mass media. F.64’s selected name, the smallest possible aperture opening on a view camera that gave the greatest depth of field, has caused the collective to be dismissed in surveys on the history of American photography as merely advocating a new style of shooting that appeared “modernist.” However, I argue that f.64’s photographs picturing things from the natural world in fact expand our understanding of what a political photograph could be in 1930s America. Not only does my project fully address f.64’s works, activities, and philosophies, but it also evaluates the group’s practice in the context of 1930s America’s visual landscape. Ultimately, my dissertation radically rethinks how we might think of political and socially significant American photography during the Depression.


(1) Ansel Adams to Edward Weston. November 29, 1934. The Edward Weston Archive, The Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ.

Katherine Markoski

Postdoctoral Fellow, Independent Scholar

The Imagination of Community: Artistic Practice at Black Mountain College

Black Mountain College (1933-1956) has long been recognized as a crucible of experimental artistic production, yet the precise nature of its importance to the history of twentieth-century American art remains in many ways undecided. Building on my dissertation, my manuscript, “The Imagination of Community: Artistic Practice at Black Mountain College,” seeks to come more fully to terms with the school as a dense and vital context for artistic practice, focusing especially on the significance of a certain ideal of community to those working at the College. The book will not only elucidate how this particular notion of community mattered to artmaking at the school but also posit Black Mountain as a vital reference point for postwar collaborative and interdisciplinary work. Put differently, the manuscript will offer an account of a hotbed of American cultural experimentation and its ramifications within contemporary artistic practice.

Rachel Middleman

Postdoctoral Fellow, Utah State University

Radical Eroticism: Women, Art, and the Transformation of Sexual Aesthetics in the 1960s

In my book project, Radical Eroticism: Women, Art, and the Transformation of Sexual Aesthetics in the 1960s, I argue that female artists revolutionized Western traditions of erotic art and the nude in the 1960s. The environment of social protest and the circulation of theories of liberation, both political and sexual, reverberated powerfully in artistic production. Through their representations of sexuality, women challenged the history of art as a field controlled by male artists and patrons; defied the idealizing and narrative conventions of figurative art and commercial pornography; and rejected strict formalism by fusing social concerns with artistic practice. For the artists examined in my book, gender and sexuality were both structuring conditions and malleable categories that could be addressed through innovative, artistic means. They experimented with aesthetic strategies that, while explicit in their content, thwarted expectations by including frank and un-idealized nudity; appropriated and altered symbols from popular culture; biomorphic yet abstract sexual forms; and, unabashedly, artists’ own bodies. This work incited crucial discussions of the problem of eroticism in art even before the feminist art movement coalesced in the 1970s. Current histories of American art of the 1960s predominantly ignore the critical issue of sexuality, although its discourse was a touchstone of the decade. Viewing art of the period through the lens of sexuality, however, not only brings into focus the work of women artists who have hitherto been overlooked but also demonstrates their considerable role in the development of both contemporary art and feminism.

Jennifer Stettler Parsons

Sara Roby Predoctoral Fellow in Twentieth-Century American Realism, University of Virginia 

John Sloan: Between Philadelphia and New York, 1892–1907

This dissertation examines the importance of place and regional artistic networks in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American art through the early work of John Sloan (1871−1951). It concentrates on his Philadelphia work in diverse mediums to explore the degree to which Sloan’s art and artistic identity were shaped by his regional consciousness and by his movement between the art worlds of Philadelphia and New York. Although Sloan is commonly known as a “New York artist,” he lived in Philadelphia as an illustrator and painter until the age of thirty-three. His experiences working in the newspaper room and his collegial studio relationships in Philadelphia significantly fostered his modern vision. In 1898, Sloan’s first effort to relocate to New York lasted only nine weeks before he returned to his home city, writing that he felt “more like an artist in Philadelphia,” where he could be “the big frog in the little puddle.” This experience catalyzed Sloan’s first paintings of urban Philadelphia, which reinforce the city’s historic and often stereotyped identity as the “private city” in contrast to the modern metropolis of New York. Although Sloan’s career is usually understood as linear (Philadelphia to New York), this dissertation analyzes the two places in relation by considering what the artist brought back to Philadelphia from New York in 1898, as well as his continued association with Philadelphia after his permanent move in 1904. The project expands on previous scholarship by asking what Philadelphia provided Sloan that New York could not, and thus illuminates the critical role of regional artistic networks, the significance of mobility, and the function of each for the cultural construction of artistic identity at the turn of the century.

Nina Schleif

Terra Foundation Senior Fellow in American Art, Bavarian State Art Museums 

Warhol’s Drawings of the Fifties: Sources, Techniques, Meanings

This project will add a major and fundamental contribution to the available art historical literature on Andy Warhol’s drawings. In my study, I aim to provide a more thorough understanding of one specific and well-defined period in Warhol’s drawing oeuvre, the fifties, and thereby show that consideration of this work, in conjunction with drawings produced during other phases of the artist’s career, will widen and possibly modify our view of this artist. A better understanding of the drawing corpus is essential to any interpretation of Warhol’s art and his place in art history.

Warhol was an expert draftsman who depended on this facility in various ways throughout his career, a fact that is not well known even among scholars. The purpose of my study is to take a first step towards a systematic scholarly consideration of the sources, techniques, and meanings of Andy Warhol’s drawings and their relevance and relation to his larger body of work.

The focus of the project will be on the drawings that were created in his early years as a commercial artist. Starting with a paradigmatic selection of drawings from the fifties, it will describe the variety of techniques and styles Warhol employed. The influence of artistic and cultural tendencies on these drawings will be considered as well as the modes that the artist used to adapt them. Specifically, the role of contemporary fine and commercial art will for the first time be systematically examined.

Juliet Sperling

Wyeth Foundation Predoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania 

Animating Flatness: Seeing Moving Images in American Painting and Mass Visual Culture, 1820–95

Images with movable parts—layered lift-the-flap anatomy books, spinning paper volvelles, lithographs with hidden panels, and playfully folded trade cards—began to appear in the United States by 1820. These metamorphic objects, which sprang into animated motion by the touch of a hand, reached wide audiences as products of an emerging mass visual culture. Though diverse in subject matter, metamorphic objects commonly sought solutions to questions that also preoccupied painters and photographers: how to represent complex categories of movement, time, and volume within the confines of a flat, static surface. This dissertation explores how metamorphic images changed the way Americans encountered flat images, primarily painting, over the course of the nineteenth century.

My study offers a new framework for understanding the conditions surrounding the emergence of cinema and early modernism. Through three thematic case studies, I contextualize larger questions of visuality in specific moments of interaction between mass cultural and fine art objects. My first chapter presents a re-reading of Raphaelle Peale’s Venus Rising from the Sea through the lens of practices of covering, uncovering, and dissecting bodies in early harlequinades and later dissected plate anatomy books. In the second chapter, I analyze how Civil War-era audiences, trained by folded and splitview political ephemera to seek dual messages within a single surface, applied these expectations to depictions of postbellum Southern space (specifically, Winslow Homer’s Near Andersonville and Eastman Johnson’s Negro Life at the South). The final case study considers how late nineteenth-century anxieties about looking through transparent surfaces register in Homer’s late marine paintings as well as in new mass-produced popup and transparent metamorphics. By tracing instances of correspondence between moving images and fine art during three key moments in the nineteenth century, I argue that by the appearance of cinema in 1895, audiences were trained to expect the unexpected from flat surfaces.

Taylor Walsh

Joshua C. Taylor Predoctoral Fellow, Harvard University 

Medium at the Margins: Bruce Nauman, 1965–72

For the American artist Bruce Nauman (b. 1941), medium is a problem. Since the mid- 1960s, Nauman has experimented with every conceivable technical support, alternating traditional forms like sculpture and etching with the emerging fields of performance and video. Such artistic promiscuity would seem to discredit medium altogether, reducing it to a vestige of a rigid and hopelessly dated modernism. Yet close attention to the objects themselves reveals a subtler stance: less a rejection of medium’s import than a recasting of its areas of competence, extending its explanatory power beyond the narrowly art historical.

Informed by the era’s unfolding debates over medium’s shifting definitions and continued purchase, the first decade of Nauman’s work tested the bounds of this governing episteme, stretching it to accommodate willfully eccentric formats. Through case studies of four such marginal practices—holography, neon, recorded sound, and artist’s books—my dissertation posits an expanded notion of artistic medium, locating specificity where one might least expect to find it.

Han-Chih Wang

Terra Foundation Predoctoral Fellow in American Art, Tyler School of Art, Temple University

The Profane and Profound: American Road Photography from 1930 to the Present

This dissertation argues that road photography can be considered an autonomous genre, providing a way of viewing and perceiving in its own right. Since the 1930s, an increasing number of photographers have focused on the automobile and highway culture as a quintessential American cultural and aesthetic experience. The visual representation of Americans on the road helps to define the American psyche of wanderlust; it not only recalls the tradition of moving westward and the Manifest Destiny of the nineteenth century but also establishes the new tradition of automobile travel as part of the collective memory for Americans.

My research identifies and locates road photographs made from the 1930s to the present within the development of American photography. It raises a series of issues such as the motives and contexts for photographers taking road trips, in work ranging from the documentary tradition to “fine art” photography. As the highway has altered and shaped the American lifestyle, this study examines the aesthetic of the sublime and the ordinary revealed in photographs as part of the representation of the visual and material culture of the American highway. I examine works by key photographers such as Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange in the 1930s, Robert Frank in the 1950s, Lee Friedlander in the 1960s, and Robert Adams, Stephen Shore, William Eggleston, and Joel Sternfeld in the 1970s and ‘80s, as well as Andrew Bush, Martha Rosler, and Amy Stein since 1990.

My study will also consider the common ground that road photography shares with the same genre of highway travel in other mediums, including American literature and road movies, as well as other visual arts such as painting and sculpture. The project further investigates the underlying message of frontiersmanship that both nineteenth-century American landscape photography and road photographs in the twentieth century imply. Fundamental issues such as the relationship between humanity and nature as well as the ways in which human presence and absence are depicted in the roadside landscape are central to this study. The ultimate purpose is to analyze road photography as an artistic statement about the road in visual form, as well as how it embodies a range of statements about American culture, considered in discrete historical periods.

ShiPu Wang

Terra Foundation Senior Fellow in American Art, University of California, Merced

The Other American Moderns

My book project, The Other American Moderns, investigates the visual production of early twentieth-century American artists of Asian descent who were significant members in art circles on both coasts of the United States, but who have received little scholarly attention. Focusing on six artists’ pre-WWII works, most of which feature other racial minorities, my research foregrounds these artists’ critical engagement with and re-imagining of “Americanness” and its inherent ideological complexities. More than a rediscovery of forgotten minority artists in American art, my project studies Asian American artists’ imagery of the Other by the Other as their productive means of interrogating conditions of diaspora and contested notions of Americanism vis-à-vis artistic alliances, race and class relations, socioeconomic strife, and ideals of American modernism. As such, my book project intervenes in the received American art history that has largely privileged Caucasian (and abstract) artists, and asks how American modernism may be re-conceptualized by bringing into sharper relief Asian American modernists’ active participation in and valuable contribution to an American culture that was indeed multicultural and cosmopolitan.

In The Other American Moderns, I take an object-based approach. I begin each of the delimited but comparative case studies with one pivotal image in an artist’s oeuvre in order to uncover its historical context and underlying commentary on what “America,” and living in America as a minority, meant to a diasporic artist. The book project includes an unprecedented examination of the photographic performance of a diasporic body in the 1913 studio portraits by Frank S. Matsura (1873–1913), reportedly the only Japanese photographer in Okanogan, Washington, at the time, who consistently incorporated himself into both formal and playful pictures of his Native American and Caucasian clients. Two studies focus on diasporic Japanese painters in New York, Eitarō Ishigaki (1893–1958) and Hideo Benjamin Noda (1908–1939), who, through deploying heroic African American figures in their topical imagery in the 1930s, participated and intervened in contemporary debates on social justice and racial equality in a tumultuous period of U.S. history. Another chapter examines a pair of paintings produced in 1926—a portrait of an African American man by Miki Hayakawa (1899–1953) and an abstract portrait of Hayakawa painting the same model by Yun Gee (1906–1963)—that point to the multiracial milieu and alliances that the artists forged in San Francisco against the backdrop of a newly enacted exclusionary law in 1924. The last chapter presents a study of Chiura Obata’s (1885–1975) paintings of people and places, which reveal the intense and continuous cross-cultural negotiations that he engaged in, in both his art and life, in early twentieth-century California. With my decade-long excavation of previously unexamined collections in the U.S. and Japan, my project will result in a book that serves as a contributive publication for readers and scholars who are interested in gaining new insights and conducting further research on the stylistic, ideological, and ethnic diversity among American modernists.

Visiting Scholars at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Lisa Bosbach

Academy of Media Arts Cologne, Germany 

The Composer Nam June Paik

Abigail Lapin Dardashti

Smithsonian Minority Awardee, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York 

Exploring Race in Dominican American Art

Dominican American art is integral to the history of both Latino and U.S. aesthetic traditions, yet it is only beginning to be discussed in Latino art historical scholarship, which has largely focused on Chicano and Puerto Rican communities in the United States. Because of political unrest in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s, Dominicans started migrating en masse to the United States, where they formed a unique multinational and pan-ethnic identity that incorporates traditions from both cultures. My research re-envisions Dominican American art as a vital component of U.S. art history and as a representation of a new hybrid notion of race. When living in the United States, Dominican Americans experience a different hegemonic system of racial classification and often redefine their own racial identity. Dominican American art is invaluable in depicting the process of such transformations.

Dominican American art has only been seldom discussed, thus my project’s first goal is to clearly define its parameters and multinational concerns, which transcend conventional conceptions of ethnicity, race, national identity, place, and gender. My project’s bipartite hypothesis posits, first, that Dominican American artists depict their Afro-Dominican heritage through religious symbols, music, and dance in order to explore this change in racial ideology. Second, I postulate that, as the majority of Dominican Americans self-identify as Hispanics or Latinos, studying Dominican American artwork within a larger Latino art historical context has implications for the delineation of Dominican American racial identity in a national pan-ethnic framework.

Caroline Riley

Boston University

Ambassadors of Good Will: American Art in 1930s Europe

Elke Seibert

German Center for the History of Art (DFK), Paris 

The American Abstract Artists (1936-1960)

Other Smithsonian Appointments in American Art

Cybèle Gontar

Predoctoral Fellow (joint with National Portrait Gallery), The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Jacques Guillaume Lucien Amans: Portraiture, Identity, and Plantation Society in New Orleans, 1800–88

One of the leading figures of a group of nineteenth-century French painters working in New Orleans was Jacques Amans (1801–1888), who practiced there between 1835 and 1855. Though prominent in a field that included Jean-Jacques Fougère Audubon (1785– 1851), Louis-Antoine Collas (1775–1856), Alexandre-Charles Jaume (1813–1858), Aimable-Désiré Lansot (d. 1851) and Jean-Joseph Vaudechamp (1796–1866), Amans is still largely unrecognized. This dissertation will draw attention to Amans, his contemporaries, and to his Yucatán-born predecessor, José Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza (ca. 1750–1802), illuminating their achievements and contributions to American painting.

There has been a tendency among art historians to view nineteenth-century Louisiana portraiture through the conceptual lens of “Southern art.” Such a general term tends to obscure understanding of the Gulf South’s diverse artistic culture. Trained in Paris, Amans produced Ingresque canvases of French Creoles, who nearly exclusively patronized French émigré artists following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Given the significance of the body of work produced by Amans and other émigrés in New Orleans, I argue that the concept of Southern art as it has existed should be expanded in such a way that it expressly denotes a transcultural phenomenon. Recent efforts to move American art history toward a “multicultural paradigm” have focused on twentiethcentury artistic exchanges between the United States and Latin America. Such remappings serve as models for my consideration of Amans’ place in the circum-Atlantic world.