These graduate students will be writing and presenting their qualifying papers this spring semester, the culmination of their Master's Degree.
My involvement with fine arts began at an early age and continued as I pursued painting; later studying fresco restoration in Florence, Italy under Lorenzo Casamenti and earning a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. After working as an adjunct art appreciation professor at Crown College, I decided to further my education by enrolling in the art history master’s program at the University of St. Thomas. During my second semester, I was fortunate to have received an assistantship at the American Museum of Asmat Art where I learned more about Asmat art and museum practices. This opportunity allowed me to propose and subsequently develop an exhibition on the drawings and writings of artist and anthropologist Tobias Schneebaum. Curatorial experiences, combined with seminars, a grant to study at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and an Independent Study with Dr. Eric Kjellgren, have informed my current research which involves Schneebaum’s activities as a collector and commissioner of art objects in Asmat during the 1970s. It is with this knowledge that I will write my qualifying paper this spring as well as create a journal article for publication.
One of the great opportunities the master’s program in art history at the University of St. Thomas encourages in students is the possibility of research travel. I was lucky enough to be one of the recipients of the Graduate Team Research Grant along with fellow colleague, Alyssa Thiede, and Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Art History department, Heather M. Shirey, in the spring of 2014. We developed a two-week project to examine the display of African objects in a variety of museums in Salvador, Brazil to arrive at an understanding of the influence of African culture on Brazilian identity. Prior to our travel, I developed an interest in Bahia, Brazil’s third installation of a biennial exhibition, and when we arrived in Salvador, integrated visits to biennial venues into our museum schedule. For Spring 2015, my qualifying paper will synthesize and analyze the position of this biennial in the larger history of ‘biennialism’ begun by the Venice Biennale in 1895 and those hosted within Brazil, as well as this biennial’s efforts to question issues of center and periphery in the art world begun by the formative Havana biennials of the 1980’s.
I have been fascinated from first memory with the concept of expression and its many manifestations; sculpture, architecture, painting, poetry, music, all of it. Yet I also found myself drawn to science, to facts, to the concrete. Art holds so much power for sometimes incomprehensible reasons, and my first foray into Art History was honestly an attempt to take something from the realm of abstraction and place it into the realm of the concrete. As I grew with Art History, I came to understand the field was so much more than that – one of the many reasons I was drawn to the University of St. Thomas. The program here encouraged me to view art not as a question with an answer but as a statement with innumerable responses. It is not for me to permanently solve but rather to explore, a field of endless possibilities, opportunities, and joys. My qualifying paper research on the anxiety caused by the architecture of H.R. Giger’s swiss bars has been continually motivated by this concept, and as I approach graduation I daily remind myself that I am not reaching an end, but rather only one of the endless possibilities, opportunities, and joys life has to offer.
I’ve grown up as a studio artist and this eventually trickled into being an art historian. After living in Rome for a year, I have wanted to further my knowledge about Renaissance art (primarily painting and printmaking of the 16th century). This year, the topic for my qualifying paper has evolved from an Independent Study Project I completed in spring 2014. After looking at the Renaissance Print Collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, I became enthralled by one print in particular by Giorgio Ghisi from the 16th century. This print, Allegory of Life (The Dream of Raphael) so captivated me that I knew immediately it would become the primary focus for the remainder of my graduate studies. This year will involve me doing further research on the literary source materials behind the print, as well as further psychoanalytical study into both ancient and modern dream analysis.
Completing the graduate program at UST has been a personal accomplishment, and also the best professional development for me as a public high school art teacher. Understanding the world through art history has given me a deeper understanding of the world cultures that I see reflected in my students. The convergence of different cultures from Europe, Africa and the Americas that are expressed through the arts is a fascinating and enduring story of human survival and ingenuity. My qualifying paper on Maya Deren’s film recording of Haitian Vodou grew out of research I conducted at Boston University this past summer, with generous support from the Luann Dummer Center for Women Graduate Student Fellowship. In my free time, I like to ‘knock around dirt’ with my bicycle on the trails of Chequamegon Forest with my husband Bruce.
One thing leads to another, but everything is connected. Is the short and sweet answer for how I got to the point of writing my qualifying paper on Walter Paepcke the CEO for Container Corporation of America. He employed leading European artists from the1930s to 60s, including Bauhaus master Herbert Bayer. Through my research I will focus on the relationship between the business patron Paepcke and multidisciplinary artist Bayer. Together they were able to achieve a new cultural awareness and appreciation for modern design forms under the structure of a corporate entity. I began the UST art history program with a seminar on Frank Gehry, after reading an article in the UST magazine about the donation of the Winton Guest House to the University. I felt there was a missing component to the architect’s connection to local patrons of the Twin Cities art scene, that I hoped to explore in the course. As a fundraising professional for arts and educational organizations for the past seven years, the class on Gehry was a perfect space for me examine the topic of patronage, while also providing an unconventional way to build professional development. Since then my interests have slowly shifted to mid-century modernism and Capitalism’s role in its development in America.