Qualifying Paper Presenter Profiles

These graduate students will be writing and presenting their qualifying papers during the 2016-17 academic year, the culmination of their Master's Degree.

Bret Campion

My research is a historical analysis of the cultural, social and political elements depicted on three cartographic images, 1524 Nuremberg Map, 1535 Codex Mendoza, and 1550 Uppsala Map/Santa Cruz Map, created in the first fifty years of colonialism. I will show how, unlike many colonial situations, Aztec culture continued despite attempts to eradicate it.  I will also interpret the three documents mentioned above to show that the Aztec’s believed these documents were proof of their right to own property and maintain political position. I will then reinterpret the documents to show how the Spanish used these same documents to claim the same property ownership and political power. 

Kathryn Joy

I chose to attend St. Thomas with the intention of studying sacred Muslim space with Dr. Victoria Young since my undergraduate scholarship’s focus was Islamic architecture. I have found new architectural interests, however, that are not sacred nor Islamic. In my graduate scholarship, my approach to architecture touches on qualities that are grounded in my long term interests: site, space, & experience. My thesis in this qualifying paper focuses on Peter Zumthor’s architecture at Steilneset Memorial in Norway. I assert that Zumthor's Atmospheric principles are architectural guiding forces that complement memory-based approaches in the design and construction of successful memorial space.

Elizabeth Madden

I received my Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Classical Studies from Cornell College, and entered the University of St. Thomas seeking my Master of Arts in Art History. I had the opportunity to be the assistant to the director of the University of St. Thomas Art Collections my first year, and later became the assistant to the director of the American Museum of Asmat Art at the University of St. Thomas. As I grew to have an appreciation for Asmat art, and learned more about the Asmat people through working at the museum, taking “The Asmat of New Guinea” class and meeting three Asmat woodcarvers during the 2016 Spirit of Summer Asmat Gala, I discovered that no scholarly research had been done on the American Museum of Asmat Art at the University of St. Thomas. Upon further analysis, I discovered that scholarly research does not focus on Asmat art as it’s framed within an institution. Therefore, my research evaluates several exhibitions that displayed Asmat art from the American Museum of Asmat Art collection, and how the curators of Western institutions narrowed the multiple indigenous narratives that surround Asmat shields and ancestor poles by emphasizing one facet of their function within thematic exhibitions.

Dakota Passariello

I was acquainted with the art of Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (b. Genoa 1609 – d. Mantua 1664) through my role at the Thrivent Financial Collection of Religious Art, which holds five of the artist’s etchings in its collection. My decision focus on Castiglione for my Qualifying Paper was made after visiting an exhibition of the artist’s prints and drawings, on loan from the Royal Collection at Windsor, at the Denver Art Museum during the summer of 2015. Having studied ancient Greek vase painting in other courses at the University of St. Thomas, I was intrigued by Castiglione’s frequent inclusion of antique pottery and classical ruins in his compositions. My QP examines the meaning and significance of this iconography in Castiglione’s work, especially as it relates to his religious subjects. The artist’s complex, mythological and allegorical subjects are well-written about, but his religious subjects have been less thoroughly explored. My QP analyzes two pendant religious prints, thus far unrecognized in scholarship, and argues that Castiglione used these, not unlike his secular prints, as a means to promote his erudition and artistic sophistication.

Alyssa Thiede

While completing my undergraduate degree in Art History at St. Catherine University, I was given the opportunity to take a class on Latin American art with Dr. Barnes. That experience led to my fascination with the indigenous cultures of Mesoamerica and inspired me to enter the graduate program at St. Thomas. Over the past few years, my research has been rooted in gender studies and feminist theory. I have found it particularly interesting to examine the gender ideologies of the Pre-Columbian peoples known as the Aztec. My qualifying paper examines the relationship between death and fertility through an analysis of depictions of female deities. After establishing the connection between female imagery and death iconography, I argue that these depictions signified an Aztec woman’s inherent power that stemmed from her sexuality and fertility. My research aims to create a more nuanced understanding of Aztec gender ideologies by examining their beliefs about death and the way they chose to depict it. 

Sandy Tomney

Interest in the subject matter for my qualifying paper has been percolating for quite some time.  One of the first art history courses I enrolled in at the University of St. Thomas was Change of Face:  Shapeshifters taught by Dr. Shelly Nordtorp Madson.  During this seminar, I first began to investigate the iconography of the Pictish monuments.  After taking several of Dr. Victoria Young’s architecture courses, intriguing connections between the Pictish monuments, cultural landscape, and memory became apparent.  These connections were further validated upon personally experiencing not only the monuments, but also the Scottish landscapes where the monuments were found.