7th Annual Undergraduate Art History Symposium

Apr 19, 2019 4:00 PM – 6:30 PM

Free and Open to the Public

The Department of Art and Art History is excited to host the seventh annual Undergraduate Art History Research Symposium as part of The University of Texas at Austin's Undergraduate Research Week 2019.


Carla Jean Bay
Women in the Royal French Academy

Women played an integral role in the development of French art. This paper reviews their critical involvement in one of the most recognizable and fascinating fields of art history: French art. Because the early institutions which developed the enduring standard of French art reflected the monarchy’s and the aristocracy’s view of society, women artists were constrained in the Academy and never given the opportunity to achieve the same success as their male counterparts. As those art institutions transformed and responded to the enormous social changes synonymous with the French Revolution, Napoleon, and subsequent French governments, women found new opportunities to compete in the world of French art. This essay reviews the foundational centuries of the Academy: its teachings, relationships with French politics, and progression of history paintings in regards to the successive evolution of political power. This synopsis is vital for understanding the patriarchal nature of the Academy and the opposing role that women came to play in transforming French art.

Hayley Briggs
Henry Moore: A Modernist’s Take on Pre-Columbian Forms 

This presentation will address Henry Moore’s early fascination with the chacmool and his subsequent development of the reclining figure motif. Moore’s working life spanned more than six decades during which he created sculptures that drew upon the Pre-Columbian sculptural form of the chacmool. Although Moore seemed to be unconcerned with the historical, cultural, and mythological foundations of this sculptural form, Moore’s reclining figures nevertheless make reference to the Pre-Columbian past. The talk will conclude with a consideration of Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 3, located at the Dallas Museum of Art, whose form and placement are redolent with references to ancient Pre-Columbian sculpture. Analysis will also take advantage of Moore’s archives as well as those at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Katherine Gaard
Oswaldo Guayasamín: A study of the Ecuadorian artist’s mid-twentieth century reinterpretation of indigenismo

Indigenismo [indigenism] can be defined as the ideologies and philosophies surrounding the understanding of indigenous peoples in Latin America—often articulated by national elites who may or may not identify as indigenous. Oswaldo Guayasamín’s (1919-1999) early works, such as La Huelga [The Strike] (1940) and Los Trabajadores [The Workers] (1942), depict active indigenous peoples. Rather than portraying somber and stoic indigenous peoples, as seen earlier in the 20th century, Guayasamín portrays indigenous peoples engaged in their community. In doing so, his work transforms the indigenous person from someone to be pitied, to be preserved, and to be exotified into someone who is in control of their own identity. In his first series, Huacayñán [Crying Path] (1946-1952), Guayasamín pushes this understanding of modern, active indigenous peoples even further, highlighting their suffering as a means of advocacy. In Gaard's thesis, she argues that Guaysamín’s early works build upon Peruvian intellectual José Carlos Mariátegui’s (1894-1930) clearly defined understanding of indigenismo from the 1920s and proposes a new, modernized representation of people of indigenous identity. Guaysamín’s indigenismo offers depicts indigenous peoples as emotional and active, thus enabling a more nuanced and empowering understanding of the struggle indigenous peoples face in Andean countries.

Griffith Greer
Paul Klee: Picturing the Invisible 

The late nineteenth century and early twentieth century was a time of significant scientific discovery. The discoveries of the x-ray and radioactivity were new and exciting but difficult for people to fully understand. Artists during this time were inspired to create a visual language that would reflect what was emerging in science. One artist who was particularly successful in communicating between the arts and sciences was Swiss-German artist Paul Klee. Klee was heavily interested in science, and the outcomes of the scientific discoveries of his time continually appear as motifs in his work. Klee’s attention to science also overlapped with his deep interest in children’s art. He created his own pictorial language and sought to diagram the invisible forces functioning in nature. Rather than attempting to depict the surfaces of nature with traditional techniques, Klee illustrated his ideas with child-like diagrams. Greer's symposium talk will sample Klee’s work, including his Pedagogical Sketchbook and paintings from the early 1920s. 

Sarah Gregory 
Revisiting the Evolution of the Wunderkammer: the Forgotten Stage of Reference Collections

Sarah Gregory's presentation examines the origins, organization, and literature surrounding three unique Italian collections of the sixteenth century in order to pinpoint modern misconceptions of the evolution of the Wunderkammer. By focusing on this liminal stage of the evolution of the wunderkammer, we are able to clearly identify how modern scholarship tends to over-romanticize visual elements of these collections which, consequently, groups them into one homogenous ideal excluding temporal and regional differences. Gregory will examines defining characteristics of late 15th and early 16th century Italian studioli and northern European wunderkammern to establish temporal and regional influences on the collections of Ulisse Aldrovandi, Francesco Calzolari, and Ferrante Imperato. After detailing the origins, content, and interior design of these profession-related collections, Gregory will examine their collective transition into commercialization. Lastly, Gregory compares and contrast contemporary literature with modern scholarship on the phenomenon that is, the Wunderkammer.

Drue Henegar
Your Worst Fear and Best Fantasy: Donna Gottschalk’s Challenge to LGBTQX Representation Art History, and Body Politics 

August 29th, 2018, second-wave feminist activist, Donna Gottschalk, released a series of intimate photos of family, friends, and social protest to the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. In collaboration with the curator, Deborah Bright, the photographs of Brave, Beautiful Outlaws expose the unfiltered realities of LGBTQX communities living in the United States during the 1970s. Gottschalk believes that this temporal moment is finally safe enough for her images to be released after concealing them for over fifty years. With the current, polarized condition of the political and cultural sphere in the US, one might question: why now? Gottschalk’s images and her choice to insert her new visual evidence in this specific moment, can be interpreted as a challenge to our current application of art, LGBTQX, and feminist history. 

Brooke Johnson
The Creatures from our Fables 

The 1954 film The Creature from the Black Lagoon is heralded among fans of classic monster movies for its iconic costume design and dazzling underwater videography. The plot of the film follows a team of dashing scientists on a heroic expedition where they encounter the Gill-man, a Devonian monstrosity who terrorizes the expedition. Versions of this story have been retold countless times in many different media throughout history using different costumes and different names. As a story that depends on a powerful set of archetypes, all of these versions consist of dualities: masculine/feminine, nature/culture, fact/fiction. These narrative structures can be reinterpreted until their meanings become more subjective through their ambiguity. What if the Gil-man is reimagined as a Gil-woman? Through Johnson's research and artistic practice, she intends to recast this tale to incorporate feminist, ecological, and photographic approaches to cinema.

Minsu Kwon
Berlin: Memories of the Divided Past, Recalled Through Tacita Dean’s Palast 

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the citizens of the capital city of Germany struggled to restructure the complex cultural and sociopolitical connections embedded within the physical space of the city. The demolition of the Socialist-era Palace of the Republic was a part of the scheme as the post-wall city reshaped into a place for reunified Germany. Tacita Dean’s Palast is a work on film which conveys the symbolic meanings embedded in the outdated palace. The bronze-mirrored window panels of the palace reflect the surrounding area, along with the setting sun in the background, and reveal the disjuncture between the old and new Berlin. By addressing the idea of obsolescence and the processing of memory through the representation of the remnants of the past, Kwon will observe the role of art as a memory channel for the past.

Emily Lee
Mist: on the dislocation of Things from space 

What is the political implication of professional exhibition spaces dictating what should and should not be looked at? How does capitalism’s obsession with packaging affect the way we sense objects in galleries? Drawing from the video-installation work of both Mika Rottenberg and Sondra Perry, as well as theoretical frameworks including Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto and Timothy Morton’s Hyperobjects, this thesis illustrates a speculative reality in which all rigid structures and ontological taxonomies are mist. One is then better able to visualize the overlapping spatial power dynamics embedded within the physical context of formal art spaces as well as the things and people inside of them. This thesis aims to negate the existence of neutrality through a formal analysis of professional exhibition spaces, particularly focusing on utilitarian infrastructural elements such as extension cords, ceilings, outlets, and pipes. 

Keya Patel
Nalini Malani: Mythology, Memory, and Multiplicity in Contemporary Indian Art

In 2018, contemporary Indian artist Nalini Malani had two major solo exhibitions in Europe —notable given that late in life, her deeply culturally specific artwork was receiving a mainstream European audience. In a South Asian cultural landscape disrupted and complicated by its recent colonial past, Malani has emerged as a figure who radically encapsulates many of the concerns of India’s present-day art production. This talk will investigate Malani’s appropriation of the mythological heroine Sita in her artwork, through which she comments on the treatment of contemporary Indian women. Through the evolution of her depictions of women like Sita, Malani’s artwork acts as a defiant rebuke of fundamentalism while also speaking in a shared visual language drawing heavily from past tradition, iconography, and narrative. Ultimately, Malani’s work fills an important gap in the Indian national consciousness by serving as an exercise in remembrance, in reclaiming agency, and in raising awareness of the female trauma that has been intertwined and conflated with the project of nation building. 

Sierra Villalobos
Instagram as Museum Space

In this digitally driven age, having a presence online through social media has become a necessity for museums.  Art museums have utilized social networking platforms, especially Instagram, to enable a photo or video be explored by someone across the world. What are museums’ goals in using Instagram? Can Instagram itself be defined as a kind of museum space?  How has this social media platform changed the experiences of museum visitors who want to consume art in different ways--from those visitors merely wishing to post selfies to visitors who want the ability to closely analyze and learn about works of art?

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