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Art History | News Highlights 2010-2011

AU/GWU Graduate Student Symposium in Art History

On October 2, the 8th Annual AU/GWU Graduate Student Symposium in the History of Art was held at George Washington University. Four AU graduate students presented their research at the symposium. Katie Boccard presented a paper on Meret Oppenheim entitled "The Mystifying Muse of Erotique Voilée: The Problematics of Gender,Oscillation, and Anonymity in the Figure of Meret Oppenheim." Tiffany Meadows presented her research on "The Gift of Blood: A Re-reading of Michelangelo's Colonna Pieta as Mariancentric." Laura Phillips discussed "Sonia Delaunay and Le Bal Bullier: The Art of Spinozan Philosophy." And Emily McAlpine gave a paper on "Mt. Fuji to Yosemite: The Development of an International Style in Japanese and American Color Woodblock Prints." The 2011 symposium will be held at American University on September 24.


First Annual Feminist Art History Conference

Held over a two day period in November, the first annual conference honored the work of Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard. In recognition of their pioneering scholarship that helped to define and shape the field of feminist art history, the first conference brought together scholars from across the country. A national Call for Papers was distributed in July 2010 for proposals on any topic of feminist interest in art history and/or visual studies. The response was overwhelming, with over seventy-five papers submitted for consideration. A second session track was added to accommodate the forty papers selected by faculty committee. Online registration opened in September and registrations came in with building momentum. We held modest expectations of registering fifty or so attendees, but online registration closed a week before the conference with over one hundred seventy interested individuals signed up to attend. With walk-on registrations, our final attendance was over two hundred. Registrants included art history graduate students, senior art historians, and scholars new to the field. Papers were presented on diverse topics in fields from ancient Greek to Contemporary Art. A welcome reception on Friday evening preceded the keynote program. Welcome remarks were given by CAS Dean Peter Starr and followed by Honoring the Legacy Appreciations by Joan Marter (Rutgers University, editor Woman's Art Journal) for Norma Broude, and Jacqueline Marie Musacchio (Wellesley College) in honor of Mary Garrard. The keynote address on "High Tide: Deploying Fluids in Women's Art Practice," was given by Dr. Anna Chave, Professor, Queen's College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Saturday's conference activities included a full day of sessions and a networking luncheon held at The Tavern. On Sunday, a special event was held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA). A museum reception and celebration of Mary D. Garrad's new book Brunelleschi's Egg: Nature, Art, and Gender in Renaissance Italy included a short talk by Dr. Garrard. The event was hosted by Susan Fisher Sterling, NMWA director. It was a wonderful conclusion to a full conference weekend.

Many people shared a role in making the conference a success. CAS Dean Peter Starr and his staff helped implement—and fund—many aspects of the conference. Liz Raymond (MA '96) helped establish long-range fundraising objectives. Thanks also to Susan Fisher Sterling and the NMWA for the special book signing event and reception on Sunday, and for the conference write-up by Ginny Treanor (MA '02) in the Women in the Arts Winter/Spring issue. Ruthann Uithol (MA '86) and Stephanie Thornton-Grant (MA '04) provided complimentary passes to Hillwood Museum and Gardens for conference speakers.

The AU art history faculty formed the core conference program committee, led by Helen Langa. Special thanks go to the VRC staff members, whose help Kathe Albrecht depended upon greatly. Kathe and the VRC staff managed conference logistics and all aspects of planning and implementation. Kellie Burris Walton, Mary Cameron, Emily Heap, Emily McAlpine, Tiffany Meadows, Nichole Rawlings, Catherine Southwick, and Elizabeth Willson were instrumental in the smooth running of the conference. A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped make our first conference such a success!


A Busy Spring Semester

The Robyn Rafferty Mathias 21st Annual Student Research Conference gave several art history graduate students an opportunity to present their work. Kellie Burris Walton, Patricia Bray, Orin Zahra, Adriana Lema Polo, and Mary Cameron presented papers in the session entitled "Self and Other: Images and the Construction of Identity." After the conference, Tiffany Meadows received an award for best Humanities paper by a graduate student for her paper entitled, "Hoc Est Corpus Meum: The Madonna della Candeletta and Monastic Memoria." 

A traditional spring term event is the art history luncheon and the presentation of the Robert and Susan Pence Undergraduate Art History Award. Helen Langa opened the awards ceremony with remarks and departmental end-of-year "thank yous." Robert Pence then presented the Pence Prize to Blair Bailey. We distributed several other awards this year. Carol Ravenal announced recipients of the Carol C. Ravenal Travel and Education Award: Patricia Bray, for summer travel to Los Angeles for her research on Ensor and Munch; and Emily McAlpine, for travel to London and Wales for the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibitions. We also bestowed two new undergraduate awards: the Maiden Scholarship and the Art History Program Award. The Maiden Scholarship, awarded to a rising senior, went to Stefanie Hong. The Art History Program Award for outstanding undergraduate art history major was given to Kirstin Gebhart. And finally, a new graduate travel award, the Segnan Award, was given to Catherine Southwick, who traveled to Paris for research on her thesis on Commune and revolutionary art.  The Segnan Award was endowed by Professor Romeo Segnan in memory of his wife, Patricia Segnan.


NMWA/AU Partnership

This past year, NMWA director Susan Fisher Sterling worked with Helen Langa and Kathe Albrecht to establish a Memo of Understanding between the museum and the university. With this partnership, both institutions hope to strengthen their ties through programs and cooperative efforts, and to further the educational missions of their respective institutions. The Memo of Understanding was signed by Susan Sterling and by University Provost Scott Bass in the spring. We look forward to working with the museum in the future!



The VRC and its eight staff assistants oversaw logistical and scheduling aspects of the first annual feminist art history conference. From publicity and marketing efforts to monitoring registration and checking on local arrangements the VRC staff kept busy leading up to the conference. They developed the volunteer schedule, created the delegate packets, contacted media outlets, and distributed conference news to local colleges, universities, and museums. In addition to their work on the conference, VRC staff scanned images for the database, cataloged work records, dealt with classroom technology issues, and assisted faculty with image, classroom, and research issues. They created new twitter and Facebook accounts for the program, instituted an AU art history blog and oversaw timely entries for these new media tools. We are hopeful that maintaining these marketing tools will become an established part of the VRC routine. Keeping up with the blog entries and crafting pithy tweets ("haiku for the Internet") can be a challenge.

This year, the VRC also partnered with Linda Allison, Musician in Residence for Voice in the Performing Arts Department to produce an afternoon arts show featuring both visual and musical arts. VRC staff selected about 30 well known works of art that related to music on some level. Several voice students from the Applied Music Performance Lab then chose works they felt related visually to the musical pieces they would perform. 

A work of art was displayed on a large screen in the Abrahamson Family Recital Hall as the student performed the musical selection. After each piece concluded, an art history graduate student discussed the artist and how his or her work related to music. It was a wonderful new way to view the works of art, and a great opportunity to hear some amazing voices raised in song. We hope to partner with Performing Arts next year on another interesting project. Participating VRC staff were Emily Heap, Nichole Rawlings, and Elizabeth Willson. Giuliana Concha-Pedraza, Paul Lysek, Katherine Riddle, and Lesley Siu performed the songs.   


University Library and VRC Fine Arts Library Partnership

During the fall 2010 semester Kathe Albrecht and University Librarian Bill Mayer discussed the idea of electronically linking art history fine arts library collection information with the university's online catalog. The library has established similar partnerships with several departments and programs on campus. The GLBT Resource Center, the Career Center, and the Women and Politics Center each partnered with the university library to link their collections. Kathe worked with library staff to establish the new partnership and outline procedures for implementing the cataloging. The library staff uploaded the information to the Voyager online catalog andalthough the art history program fine arts collection will remain a non-lending library, our books are now discoverable through the university library system.

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