These graduate students will be writing and presenting their qualifying papers this spring semester, the culmination of their Master's Degree.
I was hooked on art history during my first college survey course using Janson’s History of Art text. After college, a trip abroad only reinforced art and its history began to be the way I measured the world. I began to learn how society and culture changed through the eyes of Michelangelo, Manet and Picasso. After becoming a docent at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, I realized that I did not want my academic instruction of art history to end and began considering graduate programs in the Twin Cities area. The University of St. Thomas was highly recommended based on the willingness of the instructors to reach out and help develop each student to his potential. My hands on experience with artifacts, as well as my academic learning, have proven to be enriching beyond my expectations. As I complete the program my qualifying paper is about Anne Brigman, a turn of the century Pictorialist photographer. I anticipate my focus on her subjects and technique will add some original research to an understudied artist.
I have been interested in the arts from a young age and I am still convinced I am the twelve year old who specifically requested her parents take her to the Royal Ontario Museum while in Toronto on vacation. Despite numerous visits like this one, it never dawned on me that one could explore the holdings of these museums as a living. It was not until a high school English project introduced me to the cross section of art, writing and history that I soon came to understand as the field of Art History. The ever reaching span of topics and approaches led me to study Art History at the University of St. Thomas, first as an undergraduate and again for my graduate degree. I came to understand art as a conduit for visual expression and communication through cultures and time in my studies. Through the support and guidance of St. Thomas’ faculty and staff, I was convinced to continue this exploration and discovered my interest in landscape architecture. This led to the topic of my Qualifying Paper which explores the development, creation and use of three pocket parks all known as Planters Grove. In my paper, I explore these parks located in New York City, Washington D.C. and New Orleans by considering their design and use for the community and their sponsor, Planters.
I was selected as a Fall Graduate Intern for the 20th Century Decorative Arts and Design Department by Christie's, an internationally recognized auction house. The internship meant moving to New York City almost immediately after receiving the news. With suitcases of books in tow, I moved to New York in early September until late December. The internship gave me a behind the scenes look at auctions and the art business; during the five months I researched works of art, contacted potential buyers, wrote and edited catalogue entries, and assisted in the appraisal process. Over my internship, I had the opportunity to write a short essay for the November-December 2013 issue of Christie's international magazine. It was a memorable and rewarding experience.
The internship topped off a great year for me academically and professionally. In November, I presented a portion of my thesis, with my paper entitled, "In the Abyss between Revolutions in Art: Mikhail Vrubel' and the Mir Iskusstva" at the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies international conference in Boston, MA. This was my second time presenting at the conference and my first time chairing the panel. There, I had the opportunity to present my research to scholars of whom I referenced in my paper! Their feedback and praise for my small contribution to the field of Russian Art History was worth all the nerves. WIth the support of the Art History Department, I presented my paper entitled, "Ambiguous Self: Gender Blending and Transvestite Performance of the Berlin Cabaret of the fin de siecle at the International Journal of Arts and Science 2012 Conference in Prague, Czech Republic. Earlier that year, I presented and was awarded "Best Paper" at the Southwest/Texas Arts and Pop Culture Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for my study, "Scalpel to Sketch: History of Medical Illustration at the turn of the century."
Thanks to the open-minded encouragement of my mother and father, I can say that my career as an art historian began at a very early age. Before I could even read the words on its pages, I remember getting lost in my parents’ book of Hieronymus Bosch paintings, captivated by the strange effects his depictions of heaven, hell, and medieval society had upon my young imagination. I loved that book to pieces; over the years the pages stained and fell right out of their binding. Gradually my focus shifted from Western canonical paintings to the integration of East Asian philosophies and art forms with social justice concerns. My time in the art history department at UST has afforded me opportunities for international field research, hands-on museum experience, and direct engagement with artists, academics, and activists around the world. On a research trip to Tibet, I witnessed extreme contrasts of religious and artistic expression with violent governmental oppression. This experience led me to my qualifying paper topic, which will introduce contemporary visual tools of Buddhist protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Like the artist activists I’ve encountered throughout my education, I believe that one’s political principles can and should be meaningfully reflected in art and in writings on art.
I became interested in the arts at a young age, my parents determined to raise cultured children by bringing us to exhibitions and gallery openings. It was not until my undergraduate degree and my first survey course that I realized that Art History was more than simple visual stimulation or factual regurgitation. I obsessed over England's National Gallery during World War II and the public desire to see their hidden masterpieces. It taught me that art is not only about historical context, but also contemporary significance, a visual cipher for all generations to interpret. I chose the University of St. Thomas for the broad spectrum of seminars and student research topics, with the hope that more examples of art's interpretive endurance, like that of the National Gallery's story, existed around the world. This spring I will be researching the United States customs court case against Constantin Brancusi, looking into how the case was covered in the media and how the general public was being informed of his work.