Fellows in Residence, 2018–2019

Paisid Aramphongphan

Terra Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in American Art, De Montfort University

Paul Thek: Body Mass Index

This project aims to reassess Paul Thek’s sculptural work through the lens of what I call the “body index,” referring to art-making procedures that involve direct contact with the artist’s body through casting or imprinting. Thek’s sculpture of the 1960s, mimicking mutilated flesh, with all its interior muscles and sinews on display in shiny lifelike detail, stands out in a decade dominated, in retrospect, by the mute Minimalist cube. Discussions of Thek’s work often situate it within that narrative, as a critique of the cleanliness and “coldness” of advanced art of the 1960s, from Pop to Minimalism. Less remarked on is the fact that during that period, Thek experimented heavily with body casting, the process forming the basis of much of his sculptural output. Beyond the modernist framework of (anti-) Minimalism, I am interested in situating Thek within the longer of history of sculptural fragments and body parts casting, going back to ritualistic representation (using, in many cases, like Thek, wax): relics, votive objects, and ex-votos—all things with which Thek would have been familiar. While Thek’s faith (he was raised Catholic and remained devoted throughout his life) and the decisive encounter with the Catacombs in Palermo, Italy, early on in his artistic career are well known, the deeper resonances of cultural objects and their methods of making remain to be theorized within the realm of postwar American art.

With a focus on the body index, my research also opens up a new avenue of inquiry, not only into Thek’s oeuvre, but also into his peers’ practices, destabilizing, in particular, the previously separate categories of sculpture and print. The engagement with the imaging/copying of body parts—from hand, arm, leg, face, mouth, and teeth to genitalia—links together disparate but connected figures, such as Jasper Johns, Bruce Nauman, Robert Mapplethorpe, Charles Ray,  Robert Gober, and Janine Antoni. Thinking about such methods sheds light on a key, yet often overlooked, artistic procedure of the twentieth century.


Renée Ater

Smithsonian Institution Senior Fellow, University of Maryland, Emerita

Contemporary Monuments to the Slave Past: Race, Memorialization, Public Space, and Civic Engagement

My project focuses on how we visualize, interpret, and engage the slave past through contemporary monuments created for public spaces in the United States. I use the term “slave past” broadly to include the transatlantic slave trade and the Middle Passage, slavery, resistance, emancipation, and freedom. From Mississippi to Illinois to Rhode Island, governments (local, county, and state), colleges and universities, individuals, communities, and artists are in difficult conversations about how to acknowledge the legacy of the slave past and its visual representation for their towns, cities, states, and higher-educational institutions.

My research is predicated on the idea that the memorialization of the slave past is plural and multi-vocal. I examine twenty-five monuments in the South, Midwest, and Northeast that tell a diverse story about our contemporary engagement with the slave past. I arrange these monuments thematically into six digital case studies that include monuments to the Middle Passage and slavery, slavery and the university, resistance to enslavement, Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, black soldiers and the Civil War, and emancipation and freedom. At the heart of “Contemporary Monuments to the Slave Past” is a consideration of the interwoven nature of the social, the historical, and the spatial.

My approach is multipronged. I document how the objects are commissioned and how various constituencies determine how they should look. I analyze the visual language of the objects and the artists’ conceptualizations. Interpreting the various meanings of these monuments at the time that they were commissioned, I also evaluate the new meanings created over time that are often resistant to the original intentions and result in the transformation of public spaces. Lastly, I reflect on the concept of civic engagement and the role such monuments play in present-day conversations about race, history, and social justice.

Sarah Beetham

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan Fellow awarded through the James Smithson Fellowship Program, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Monumental Crisis: Accident, Vandalism, and the Civil War Citizen Soldier

This book project examines monuments to the common Civil War soldier that have been damaged or altered since their dedication. These statues, obelisks, and columns were erected in towns and cities in the North and the South after the Civil War to honor the rank and file soldiers who died in the conflict. Since June 2015, Confederate monuments have been subject to acts of vandalism and calls for removal in an effort to reckon with America’s long history of racial injustice. This controversy has brought issues of permanence and preservation to the forefront, as many ask whether the monuments are worth saving, and whether the memorial landscape should ever be altered. But the history of the post–Civil war memory landscape has been marked not by consistency, but by constant modification. My book, which expands research that I first began to explore in my doctoral dissertation, will demonstrate this in the context of the long material history of Civil War citizen soldier monuments. In the 150 years since the end of the war, these monuments have been buffeted by the elements, bruised by vandals, shattered by automobiles, and moved or altered according to local needs. In probing four key alteration processes—accident, vandalism, revision, and neglect—my book will trace a path from the monuments’ material history to their divided present moment, and outline possible solutions for the current memorial conflict.

Alison Boyd

Terra Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz–Max-Planck-Institut

"Your Country? How Came It Yours?": Divergent Artistic and Political Claims for the "Soil" in America in the 1930s–1940s

This project analyzes how specific artists from different American identity groups conceptualized their relationship to the soil through art in the 1930s–1940s: the African American artist Horace Pippin, the Hopi-Tewa potter Nampeyo, and the Mexican artist Diego Rivera. Although the term “soil,” especially in the 1930s, is associated with mainstream nationalism, these artists rerouted these discourses to make their own political claims. Crucially, they did this by constructing the meaning of soil according to their specific histories, identities, and worldviews. In all three cases, the artists framed the American soil as the progenitor of their art production, while also using their art to shift the meaning, temporality, and boundaries of what constituted the American soil. This book will analyze both the different ways that artists and critics framed and employed the soil and the very different art that was produced by these claims, including pottery, paintings, murals, and photographs. More broadly, this research will put pressure on the construction and boundaries of the category of American art history to create a more expansive but also more complicated geographic and temporal framework. The book will examine the uses and depictions of the soil as a locus point for labor, gender, political, and ecological concerns in art and art history. Comparing these artists’ different strategies for relating to the soil is crucial for creating a deeper understanding of the American experience and valuing the way in which a range of different heritages have manifested and intersected in the United States.

James Brookes

Smithsonian Predoctoral Fellow, University of Nottingham

Picturing the Civil War: Visual Culture of the Rank-and-File

My project is the first full-length study of Civil War soldiers’ wartime art. I chart a transformation in how soldiers used visual culture, even as the hostilities transformed visual technologies and as imagery transformed the public’s experience of the conflict itself. The soldiers’ production of images presented both an opportunity and a dilemma, forcing them to abandon existing artistic conventions in search of new ways to represent the war’s realities. Free from censorship, soldiers created art that often countered the proliferation of propagandistic images. Whereas the latter centered around the depiction of “Heroic War,” many soldiers produced works that focused on violence and tedium. As they fought their foes on the battlefield, soldiers also entered a cultural conflict with professional picture-makers over the war’s depiction.

Historians have published collections of soldiers’ artwork, but never before has there been a comprehensive study that synthesizes their wartime art to illustrate how they unknowingly contributed to the creation of an alternative illustrated history of the rebellion. This grassroots record ran parallel to the mainstream propagandistic narrative, offering new insights into how soldiers visualized the conflict in opposition to the themes exhibited in popular culture. Studies of Civil War imagery seldom acknowledge the testimonies of soldiers, whether focusing on the reception of the visual or its uses. Similarly, soldier studies rarely employ visual culture in their analytical framework. This study blends textual and visual records to elevate soldiers’ art from mere products of the historical moment, to emphatic statements about it. I marry the two fields of soldier studies and art history in order to analyze the ways in which those best poised to visualize the conflict experience did so in response to their lived realities.

J.V. Decemvirale

SAAM Predoctoral Fellow in Latinx Art, University of California, Santa Barbara

Knowing Your Place and Making Do: Radical Art Activism in Black and Latino Los Angeles, 1968 to the Present

Building on scholarship that expands the cultural topography of Los Angeles, this dissertation investigates a constellation of arts organizations founded and managed by people of color in the city from 1968 to the present. Working in the shadow of the city’s central cultural institutions, these arts associations and grassroots art spaces have formed the networks of apprenticeship, instruction, and affiliation for much of the black and Latino artistic production in Los Angeles. Protesting their exclusion from the city’s main museums, these organizations turned churches, houses, and hospitals into temporary exhibition spaces. Through community-oriented programming and exhibition making, they generated large membership constituencies and attracted audiences that reached into the thousands. By reformatting the dominant culture’s products, these groups made art applicable and meaningful to demographic groups that the museum as an institution continues to neglect, ignore, and misunderstand. Analyzed as a series of case studies, these arts organizations provide insights into the popular uses and rereadings of the spaces, frameworks, and alliances by which art has traditionally been activated, curated, exhibited, and received.

This fellowship received Federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

Clarisse Fava-Piz

Terra Foundation Predoctoral Fellow in American Art, University of Pittsburgh

Sculpting beyond Borders: George Grey Barnard and Andrew O'Connor during the Age of Rodin

In the early decades of the twentieth century, complex multifigural groups with highly expressive gestures and ambiguous poses broke away from the traditional model of heroic statues, transforming the urban landscape not only in the United States but also in Latin America. These ambitious monumental projects were designed for an international context and audience but were created in a unique transnational space of artistic exchange—the Paris Salons—amidst a larger environment of intense nationalist expectations and pressures. In 1900 the Paris Salons offered the most prestigious exhibitions of sculpture in the world and constituted a major artistic hub for foreign sculptors who sought critical validation of their works. I argue that the Salons operated as an ecosystem in which ideas and sculptural motifs circulated, with multidirectional channels of exchanges: a new way of thinking about a nationally based history of art within a transatlantic artistic system.

At SAAM, my research will focus on two prominent sculptors whose work brought to light different aspects of this international phenomenon in the Paris Salons. American George Grey Barnard (1863–1938), and Irish-American Andrew O’Connor (1874–1941) considered the French capital not only as a training platform but also as a space of exchange in which artistic identity could be forged in fluid relationships with other artists and national patrons. Each sculptor’s oeuvre offers a lens through which to consider various sets of issues: the use of appropriation, fragmentation, and replication from museum pieces to large-scale public sculptures; the conflict between a transnational practice and nationalist expectations; and the sculptor’s shifting identity and cosmopolitanism.

Christopher Green

Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellow, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Masked Moderns: Northwest Coast Native Art beyond Revival

Histories of “primitivism” in the avant-garde show that Euro-American modernism was always engaged in the appropriation of nonwestern and Indigenous art, with particular interest in Northwest Coast Native art forms by the Surrealists, Abstract Expressionists, and Indian Space Painters. However, there has been little consideration of how Northwest Coast Native artists chose to engage with the styles and tenets of Western modern art. To date, the history of postwar Northwest Coast Native art has been dominated by what is known as the Modern Revival, the supposed recovery of nineteenth-century Indigenous art in modern times. Native artists working in the Revival period typically produced neo-traditional work that was based on a canon of objects and styles constructed primarily by non-Native scholars from an idealized past. These anthropologists and art historians defined the rule-laden system of “formline design,” an organizational structure that uses a swelling and narrowing band and repeated geometric motifs to delineate totemic forms and that determined the spatial arrangement of carved and painted designs in a consistent visual language.

Between 1960 and 1990, however, many Northwest Coast Native artists departed from the neo-traditional style of the Modern Revival. They drew on Euro-American modernism and other non-Native aesthetic innovations to create works that complicated notions of identity, authenticity, and tradition. I argue for recognizing these transformative works as a Northwest Coast form of postmodern art in their two-fold critical response to Western modernism and to the canon of the Modern Revival. Trained in and deeply knowledgeable about Western modernism’s legacy, these artists understood and reframed its values of originality, aesthetic autonomy, and expressive innovation, combining such modernism with and layering it into forms that expressed Indigenous cultural values. These artists made use of Western modernism by applying its procedures to Indigenous content. They appropriated modern techniques to reframe their art in an idiom recognizable for Euro-American reception, thereby claiming a place alongside rather than subservient to them as fine artists.

This project will deepen the history of aesthetic primitivism in the broader canon of Euro-American modernism by revealing how the Indigenous postmodernists that are the subject of this study responded to and made use of it. They created work outside of the binaries of tradition and innovation and allowed for a reconsideration of the divide between modernism and postmodernism. I argue that their art further produces visual metaphors of the complex political relations between Northwest Coast Native Americans and the settler-colonial states that they cohabit. “Masked Moderns” will thus expand our understanding of how the specific history of Northwest Coast art reflects Indigenous sovereignty through points of contact, refusal, and reconciliation between Western art and Native American artists.

Jennifer Greenhill

Joe and Wanda Corn Senior Fellow, University of Southern California

Commercial Imagination: American Art and the Advertising Picture

My book project examines the centrality of “the picture,” as a concept, to commercial practice in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Right at the time that lush and complex color pictures became essential to the intertwined industries of advertising and magazine publishing, art directors, psychologists, and the pushers of products committed significant energy to theorizing the seductive sales potential of visual material, analyzing the formal operations and social effects of pictures both on the page and in the mind’s eye. They instructed illustrators and designers to devise layouts that would operate “as pictures” regardless of the content of the composition, including typography, decorative cuts, borders, unmarked space, and the paper page itself. All of this material—even the text penned by copywriters—would, if successful, be converted into a mental image in the mind of the potential buyer. The commercial picture producers were thus not only mind manipulators but also interior designers, making pictures for phantasmic environments they could only imagine.

While scholars have addressed the place of art in the history of advertising, they have overlooked the pictorial foundations of the advertising trade literature and the capacity of artists to theorize, through their own visual means, the perceptual terms and material conversions that structured late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century marketing discourse. By drawing the work of illustrators and graphic designers into relation with the advertising trade texts, which are remarkable for the visual methods by which they  articulate their claims, my book tells a new story about the language of commerce at the advent of the pictorial advertising age, revising existing conceptions of the “art” of illustration, the intersubjective territories of the market, and the boundaries of experimental visuality in the period.

Yinshi Lerman-Tan

Douglass Foundation Predoctoral Fellow, Stanford University

Living Still: John F. Peto and the Artist across Time

My project takes turn-of-the-century American still life painter John F. Peto out of a limited temporal and genre context and considers how Peto may radically exist across time. I suggest that Peto, an artist who cultivated his own obscurity in both art and life, might be best understood in historical moments contemporary to, after, and before his own via the people with whom he identified and those who identified with him. Drawing on close readings of paintings, photographs, archives, and the contents of Peto’s home (now the John F. Peto Studio Museum), this project explores Peto’s photographic practice, his twin-like relationship to the painter William Harnett, the episode of historical misattribution between Harnett and Peto in the mid-twentieth century, and Peto’s obsession with Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.

Talia Shabtay

Big Ten Academic Alliance Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University

From THINK to Look: Vision and the Mathematical Sciences in the Cybernetic Age, 1946–1961

In my project, I examine visual practices across the American arts and sciences that emerged from the continual quest to see better, bigger, and deeper—an ambition made even more urgent under the conditions of the Cold War. In particular, I consider the work of visual practitioners who forged new ways of seeing that were structured and scaled according to a new kind of human-machine interface. These include artists such as György Kepes, Berenice Abbott, and Charles and Ray Eames; mathematicians Norbert Wiener and Benoit Mandelbrot; and the engineer-photographer Harold Edgerton. The world made newly visible by image technologies such as rocket photography, electron microscopy, and reconnaissance satellites marked the beginning of the organized rapid expansion of the effort to see the imperceptible—the world beyond the limits of the unarmed human eye—and the urgent military, industrial, and aesthetic drive to represent that world. I conclude with conjectures on the legacy of Cold War visual practices in our contemporary moment via an analysis of the work of artist Trevor Paglen.

In my research, I ask the following questions: What kinds of extra-human visual processes emerged after World War II, and how did postwar American practitioners in both the arts and sciences begin to engage them? What can their work tell us about vision in America in a time of invisible war? By answering these questions, my goal is to trace a historical genealogy of the problem of seeing the imperceptible, and begin to locate the aesthetic dimensions of this problem.

Kimia Shahi

Wyeth Foundation Predoctoral Fellow, Princeton University

Margin, Surface, Depth: Picturing the Contours of the Marine in Nineteenth-Century America

My research investigates ways of seeing and modes of picturing the ocean and coastlines in the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century. The project brings together works across a range of mediums by Martin Johnson Heade, William Trost Richards, Winslow Homer, Edward Moran, John Frederick Kensett, Fitz Henry Lane, Thomas Eakins, and James McNeill Whistler. I explore how and why these artists devised new approaches to depicting marine and coastal environs, focusing particularly on how they engaged the liminal qualities of littoral landscapes, the fugitive nature of the shoreline, and the scale and materiality of the sea itself. These practices contributed to the marine’s status within a broader cultural imaginary,  at a time when the ocean and coastlines were subject to new and changing forms of scientific inquiry, social formation, and aesthetic appreciation. They also tested and expanded the scope of landscape representation, then a dominant and much-discussed genre in American art and its attendant discourse and institutions.

As discussed in period criticism and literature, pictures of the ocean and coasts were not often identified in words art historians today might use reflexively, such as “landscape” or “seascape.” Rather, they were subject to a varied collection of terms, bespeaking their relative ambiguity as images and as subjects. Yet despite their elusiveness, the margins of land and water, the flux of tides alongshore, and the inscrutable depths and expanse of the sea emerged prominently in art of the mid- to late nineteenth century, serving as especially fertile pictorial terrains for the artists listed above. The works and practices I consider in my research warrant close art-historical attention not just because they portray the ocean and its edges, but also because, in different ways, they identify and engage water as a substance, terrain, and medium that facilitated changing ideas about the act, and stakes, of picturing the natural world and its processes.

Sarah-Neel Smith

Terra Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in American Art, Maryland Institute College of Art

Exhibiting the Middle East: The Lost History of America’s Cultural Exchanges

This project reconstructs the lost history of cultural diplomacy and U.S.–Middle East relations in the Cold War by analyzing the dynamic network of these countries’ cultural exchange programs in the 1960s. Historians have examined the US government’s efforts to use art as a “weapon of the Cold War” by sending Abstract Expressionism to Europe and Latin America in the 1940s and ’50s. Yet the scholarship does not account for a central development of mid-century cultural diplomacy: the United States’ use of art to advance its political objectives in the Middle East. By the mid-1950s, the Middle East was a lynchpin in the nation’s new strategy of waging cultural proxy wars rather than directly engaging with the Soviet threat. Policymakers, philanthropists, and citizens scrambled to learn all they could about the unfamiliar region. Art played a key role in this process.

“Exhibiting the Middle East” weaves together analyses of artworks and texts with discussion of U.S. foreign policy and Middle East politics to elucidate the ways in which the United States used art to define American selves and Middle Eastern others. Chapters address topics including the “social life” of Middle Eastern artworks shown at MoMA and in traveling exhibitions; the State Department’s exhibitions of American artworks in embassies in Damascus, Baghdad, Ankara, and Tehran; and the National Gallery of Art’s collaborations with the Shah of Iran. At a moment when violence against Muslims in the U.S. has reached unprecedented levels and anti-Islamic sentiment has become a cornerstone of government policy, this study serves as a critical account of twentieth-century U.S.–Middle East relations and the connective power of culture.

Krista Thompson

George Gurney Senior Fellow, Northwestern University

Black Light: Tom Lloyd and Refracting Art Histories

This project centers on Tom Lloyd, an African American artist who was among the first wave of artists to work with light and electronic technologies in the 1960s. “Black Light” examines Lloyd’s sculptures, which were composed of industrial lights used in marquees, traffic lights, and automobiles. The book documents Lloyd’s participation in many key Minimalist and kinetic light art exhibitions throughout the mid-1960s and 1970s, his involvement with the avant-garde Howard Wise Gallery in New York, his inaugural exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem (1968), and his role as a founding member of the activist group Art Workers’ Coalition (1969–1971), which pressured museums to diversify their exhibitions and collections. Despite Lloyd’s centrality in the mainstream art world in New York in the mid-1960s, only scant archival and physical traces of his work remain in institutional collections. The forthcoming publication and exhibition, combining art-historical methodologies and material studies analyses, will highlight and examine the few available Lloyd sculptures, the numerous poor photographic reproductions of his pieces, and the work of Lloyd’s peers to newly assess Lloyd’s contribution to the light and electronic art scene in the 1960s. Further, the project, using a method I describe as “speculative art history,” explores how we might newly imagine works he proposed to produce but may not have realized. “Black Light” interrogates more broadly how subjects appear or fade as the subjects of art history. Light is not simply examined as Lloyd’s chosen medium but operates as a metaphor for visibility, knowledge, and knowledge production, and for histories that are seen or rendered invisible in the archives.

Phillip Troutman

Smithsonian Institution Senior Fellow, The George Washington University

"Sorrowfully Beautiful": African American Subjectivity in the Anti-Slavery Engravings of Patrick Henry Reason

My book project is the first full-scale analysis of the American Anti-Slavery Society’s (AASS) visual agenda—its raft of illustrated pamphlets, juvenile tracts, fine prints, broadsides, and books—in its formative decade. Scholars tend to interpret antislavery images as generic, patronizing, sentimentalizing, even victimizing, often treating them interchangeably across time and among creators. By contrast, I attend closely to artists’ and editors’ motives, methods, messages, audiences, and genres. I argue that the AASS’s visual rhetoric of the 1830s was experimental and sometimes quite perceptive, reflecting a radical interracialism. I apply Manisha Sinha’s (The Slave’s Cause, 2016) framework of “fugitive abolition”—the catalytic interaction among escapees, free people of color, and white activists of varying ideologies who together shaped the movement—and draw on visual theorist W. J. T. Mitchell’s (What Do Pictures Want? 2005) notion that images always want, first in the sense of lacking—they don’t tell us fully what they mean—and therefore also in the sense of demanding a response, a reaction, an interpretation. Far from reproducing only generic icons of passive slaves, abolitionist editors and illustrators—including Patrick Reason, the first known African American engraver—produced specific, subjective, and sometimes violently active images of African Americans, works imbued with notions of citizenship, human rights, and an active engagement in self-emancipation, and thereby solicited responses from a mixed audience. By taking images seriously as texts, my book also calls for historians more generally to treat visual sources with the same critical respect we grant prose.


Jillian Vaum

Patricia and Phillip Frost Predoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania

Between Subject and Type: Representing Free African Americans in Antebellum Portraiture

By the time of the full abolition of slavery in the United States in 1865, visual culture had served as an arena to address the social upheaval caused by emancipation for more than half a century. The growing visibility of free African Americans in Northern antebellum cities prompted frequent visual representation in genre paintings, minstrel shows, and printed caricatures. Without the structured hierarchy of enslavement, these images reinforced status by assigning African Americans to a limited number of roles in both the American social fabric and its visual culture. By contrast, portraiture provided a vehicle for individual narratives and experiences to find rare pictorial expression.

My dissertation probes the limits of visualizing African American freedom in painted portraits made between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. I examine paintings by Charles Willson Peale, Thomas Waterman Wood, and William Sidney Mount within the image cultures of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York in which they were produced and consumed. Three chapters explore the possibilities and challenges of conveying free status in relation to issues of display and medium, as well as to period theories of race and laws governing emancipation.

To date, scholars have primarily looked to abolitionist propaganda and commemorative monuments to analyze the impact of emancipation on the visual arts and urban space. Art historians have also probed the ways in which national debates over slavery and Westward expansion were inextricably associated with the black body in antebellum genre painting. For these reasons, the iconography of emancipation has received greater attention than have signs of freedom constituted by the labor, dress, and gestures of daily African American life. My dissertation examines the degree to which freedom and its lived expression manifested in visual culture, as well as the role different pictorial formats played in conveying and curtailing free identity.

Helena Vilalta

Terra Foundation Predoctoral Fellow in American Art, University College London

From Information to Incorporation: Embodied Conceptualism in New York, ca. 1970

Through a close study of works by Lee Lozano and Adrian Piper, my Ph.D. dissertation charts the emergence of what I call the “networked body” in conceptual art. I aim to demonstrate how these artists’ work elicited a new understanding of the body, which is distinct from the phenomenological body associated with Minimalism, or the physiological body staged in early performance art. In contrast, I suggest that Lozano and Piper were concerned with the interaction between embodied subjectivity and increasingly pervasive information patterns. Whereas most of their peers working in a conceptual idiom embraced logical and scientific formulations, these artists questioned the supposedly dematerialized nature of communication. Drawing on feminist media studies, I consider the strategies that they deploy to reflect on the gulf between information theory and their experience of the world as gendered and racialized bodies.

In the chapter on Lee Lozano, I analyze how she both drew upon and subverted the metaphor of the human as information system prevalent in Cold War America. While in her early drawings the body is, quite literally, plugged into the city’s physical infrastructures, I show how, in her conceptual work, the body is connected to informational currents. Focusing mainly on her Dialogue Piece (1969), I claim that in chronicling conversations with her network of friends, peers, and competitors, Lozano exposes the entanglement between the traffic in information and desire at the dawn of the knowledge economy.

During the fellowship at SAAM, I will complete a chapter on Adrian Piper. My research focuses on the relationship between embodiment and abstraction in Piper’s work of the 1970s, paying particular attention to the growing importance of music and dance in her practice. Though inspired, in part, by Lozano’s examination of intersubjective exchanges, for most of the 1970s Piper took her investigation beyond the narrow confines of the art world. Charting the evolution of her practice throughout the 1970s, I ask how her engagement with funk brings to the fore questions of class, gender, sexuality and race.