Publishes paper on contemporary artist Thornton Dial, Sr.
Katie Johnson (Class of 2013, Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in sculpture, Minor in Art History, Magna Cum Laude, Distinction in Art, Leadership Award, University Research Scholar ) was awarded a grant which allowed her to travel to the Outsider Art Fair in New York City, as well as to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, to meet with the Souls Grown Deep Foundation and view their large collection of artwork. The grant, funded by the Undergraduate Research Program Advisory Council (URPAC), enabled Katie to conduct research for an academic paper that will be published in the UNC Asheville Journal of Undergraduate Research. She has also been working as a research assistant to Dr. Leisa Rundquist, Associate Professor of Art History for an upcoming exhibition at the Asheville Art Museum entitled Social Geographies: Interpreting Space and Place.
In May, Katie received a $1,000 award from the Folk Art Society of America. Katie's application packet included her undergraduate research project/senior capstone paper on Thornton Dial, Sr. In addition to the cash award, Katie has been invited to submit an article for the society's journal, the Folk Art Messenger. The Folk Art Scholar annual award is open nationally to both undergraduate and graduate students. The announcement, which will run in their next issue of the Folk Art Messenger, may be read at the bottom of this page.
In Katie's Own Words:
I feel that my time at UNC Asheville has offered me countless opportunities for scholarship and growth, which is exemplified by my research proposal’s acceptance by the Undergraduate Research Program Advisory Council, the opportunity to work with Dr. Rundquist, as well as the subsequent travels that I have had the privilege to undertake. My experiences during my last semester at UNC Asheville have helped to shape my understanding of the art world and have helped to envision my place within it.
The first trip that I took relating to both the Social Geographies exhibition as well as the research grant was to New York in early February 2013 to attend the Outsider Art Fair. The Fair was incredible in the sense that it contained such a large amount of work as well as quite a wide variety. During the three-day event, I was able to meet with a number of academics and collectors to discuss the current scholarship surrounding self-taught artwork. I also gained important insight into the relationship between how artwork is discussed and market values, all of which contributed to my research paper. Additionally, I had the pleasure of attending a number of fascinating presentations and panel discussions, which were hosted by both the Outsider Art Fair and the American Folk Art Museum. It was these presentations, most especially the fascinating scholarship of Ned Puchner on the topic of artist Minnie Evans, which helped to inform conversations that Dr. Rundquist and I were having about the research and eventual curation of the Social Geographies exhibition.
Just a few weeks later Dr. Rundquist and I then traveled to Atlanta to meet with Phillip March Jones, Director of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, as well as William “Bill” Arnett, whose investigation, documentation, and exhibition of southern vernacular artwork has been instrumental in the growth and understanding of the field. This trip became incredibly important to me because I had the good fortune of discussing artwork with Mr. Arnett for many hours while he lead me through the Foundation’s warehouse, especially focusing on the work of Thornton Dial, Sr., whom I am writing about for my Art History Minor thesis. Dr. Rundquist and I were able to view a truly impressive variety of artworks during that trip and are looking forward to working with the Foundation for the Social Geographies exhibition.
My last semester at UNC Asheville has been truly extraordinary, and I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to travel and the encouragement to keep writing, thinking, and working. My travels to New York and Atlanta not only aided me in my research, but also helped open myself up to the world of art beyond text books and slide projectors, and with it, a world of opportunities. --Katie Johnson.
Folk Art Society Scholarship Announced
The Folk Art Society of America’s Scholarship Committee is pleased to announce FASA’s first Folk Art Scholar: Katie Johnson, who graduated from the University of North Carolina Asheville this spring with a BFA in sculpture and a minor in art history. Johnson is student of Leisa Rundquist, a FASA member and assistant professor of art history at UNCA (whose research on Henry Darger is well known). Johnson’s thesis, written to fulfill the requirements for the minor in art history, is titled, “Dissolving Boundaries: The Politics of Categorizing the Art Work of Thornton Dial, Sr.” This paper is pending publication in the UNCA Journal of Undergraduate Research and was presented orally during a campus-wide research symposium this spring.
Johnson has received several awards, including a grant from the Undergraduate Research Program at UNCA that enabled her to attend the 2013 Outsider Art Fair in New York City and also visit the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta, where she met with collector William Arnett. In her application, Katie writes that she is “very excited about continuing my education in graduate school, where I plan to continue my studies in the field of self-taught and folk art.” Currently, Johnson is an intern at the Asheville Art Museum and works as a research assistant for Dr. Rundquist. Together, they are curating, “Social Geographies: Interpreting Space and Place,” an exhibition featuring works by Thornton Dial, Sr., Lonnie Holley, Henry Darger, Martín Ramírez, and George Widener at the Asheville Art Museum, January 18 – May 11, 2014. This initial FASA Scholarship will be awarded annually to support the study and teaching of folk art at institutions of higher learning in the United States. The $1,000 cash award to a student who meets the scholarship’s criteria will enable the winner to attend FASA’s annual conference and symposium. The winner will also write a follow-up article for the Folk Art Messenger. The deadline for submissions of applications for next year's scholarship is March 1, 2014. For more information, contact the Folk Art Society at P. O. Box 17041, Richmond, VA 23226. -- Carol Crown, FASA Scholarship Committee Chair.