Spring 2016 Art History Undergraduate Research

Hannah Wiepke
Curating Community

Society often regards those with disabilities to be less capable of having creative capacities and social relationships. Open Hearts Art Center (OHAC) a non-profit organization in Asheville, North Carolina seeks to change that perception and empower individuals with intellectual disabilities to create works of art. Established in 2005, OHAC serves forty-five artists in the Western North Carolina region. OHAC is a place where artistic expression blends with habilitative care. The artists of OHAC work primarily in a group setting, which not only aids in the development of social skills, but also helps to support an artistic community. Artists attend classes ranging from painting, music, dance, songwriting, and sculpture. They also have the option to sell their work in the community through a variety of venues and in turn receive a paycheck. Through analysis of internship experience, scholarly interviews, and interviews with OHAC artists, this inquiry discusses the challenges that come with creating an exhibition centered around the disabled community, which is typically marginalized by society. The exhibition is informed by scholarship in the areas of both art history and disability studies as well as other contemporary exhibitions of art created by intellectually disabled artists. By presenting the artists of OHAC as members of an artistic community rather than patients attending a daytime medical facility, the way in which the viewer interprets the exhibition is drastically different. At the core of the exhibition is the representation of these individuals as artists to engender a more inclusive notion of our contemporary definition of what it means to be an artist.
(Fri. 12:40 pm-1:00 pm OH 229)

Hannah Wiepke
A Fascination with the Unknown: The Work of Albert Eckhout and Frans Post in Dutch Colonial Brazil

Within the last forty years, a significant amount of research has been completed about the artistic works of Albert Eckhout (c. 1610-1665) and Frans Post (c. 1612-1680) and their connection to Dutch colonialism in Brazil. This presentation will explore the paintings created by Post and Eckhout during their seven-year stay in Brazil as well as the images based on their visit to Brazil and completed after their return to the Netherlands. To European eyes, the landscape of Northeast Brazil would be described as beyond comparison. With its natural waterfalls, forests, and winding rivers, Brazil was like an exotic paradise to its colonial settlers. The native peoples that inhabited the Brazilian coast had utterly different languages, cultural values, clothing styles, and familial systems, and governing structures than the Dutch. The native population was completely unfamiliar and foreign. Fortunately, these Dutch artists choose to create images of costumes and customs they observed, and thus today, we have access to some of the first formally painted images of the Viceroyalty of Brazil and its inhabitants. During their stay in the port of Recife, Golden Age landscape artist, Post, and portrait artist, Eckhout, created images of the New World. The work of Post and Eckhout contributes to the larger understanding of Dutch colonialism and the value of intercontinental travel and representation of the exotic in Baroque-era Europe. Using early modern taxonomic frameworks and practices along with visual analysis and historical studies of indigenous peoples, this investigation goes beyond previous scholarly interpretations referencing images of inhabitants along the northeast Brazilian coastline during the Baroque era.
(Fri 9:30-950  OH 229)

Dorothe Santistevan
The Socio-Political Climate and the Evolution of Techniques in War Photography: Are Photographic Reproductions Reliable Historic Documents?

Focusing on the American Civil War (1861-1865), World War II (1939-1945), and the Vietnam War (1955-1975), this paper will investigate the ways in which war photography has evolved not only in regards to technical advances, but also in response to the ever changing socio-political climate of the country. Since, in many cases, specific resources about selected photographs are sparse, any conclusions drawn heavily depend on analysis of the images within the context of the socio-political situation. By using primary source material (including access to quality photographic reproductions and historical documents and film) as well as scholarly research into the history of photography as it is situated in times of war, this study will draw conclusions through analysis of iconic photographs from each time period. The inherent reliability of photographs in conjunction with their function in times of war is a connection that is rarely drawn in scholarly research, although the two ideas are drawn separately. This paper joins the two ideas, pulling together the relationship between war, each artist’s truth, the public’s perception of their truth, and how that collective cultural interpretation can move people. Through staging of dead soldiers to create an emotionally heightened image, manipulating the German people into supporting a despotic leader, or negating support of the Vietnam War within the United States, these photographs of conflict have had the power to sway the public into believing and supporting a cause, thereby making photographic reproduction the most influential form of accessible visual culture. 
(Thur. 4:40-5:00 OH 229)

Hannah Criswell
Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith Reimagined

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) was a prominent female painter in the Italian Baroque era and has been the subject of many scholarly texts throughout the years. This paper analyzes Gentileschi’s Judith paintings through a social psychology lens rather than using feminist theories and psychological models of rape as has been done previously. Analysis is accomplished by looking at the paintings in a linear manner addressing the connections between Gentileschi’s life and paintings, her relationships within her life, and the differences between the male and female viewpoints of the same subject. Initial research was based on the book, Artemisia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art, written by Mary Garrard. Further research was expanded by reading primary sources, such as the story of Judith in the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books of the Christian Old Testament, and scholarly journal articles within the fields of the biblical Judith and Gentileschi’s life. After reading more on Gentileschi’s life and studying psychological models that are used to explain human behavior, the direction of this research changed to focus directly on the concepts of social psychology. Through detailed visual and psychological analysis, this study provides a new interpretation of the connection of the four Judith paintings to Gentileschi’s life. Context Warning: this presentation will have context that may be sensitive to some individuals, including paintings depicting violent acts and discussion of sexual assault.
(Thur 2:00-2:20 PM OH 229)

Erin Dalton 
Islam and Christian Spheres: Interaction and Exchange of Religious Orders

As a Western society, we have the tendency to reflect and study our own struggles, victories, changes, and innovations--leaving our academic realms of Western and Eastern cultures polarized and the lenses of history biased. Nonetheless, architecture of the Medieval Ages presents actual evidence and traces of cross-interaction between the two spheres of Europe. The Crusades are frequently highlighted as a point of overlap as well as conflict between Islam and Christianity. Thus there is a habit to categorize history, meaning the timelines and their respective cultures are divided into their own “realms” of time. As a result, they seemingly cannot touch or interact except in forms of violence. This is simply not true, for in the case of Islam and Christianity the cultures were interacting and exchanging ideas. Despite their immediate differences, both Christianity and Islam stem from classical roots in architecture, and often utilize trends from each other. Their architecture provides visual dialog and societal markers of wealth and community. Available on hand are various documentations debating and commenting on these discords between Christianity and Islam. This study will also utilize documents written by the chroniclers from the time period, such as the Chronicles of Fredgar. Furthermore, the architecture speaks to shared purposes and techniques; for example, the Islamic Dome of the Rock and Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre are siblings in the Holy Land of Jerusalem. In previous studies Islam and Christianity have been analyzed together, yet from different perspectives and predispositions. This paper actively demonstrates the interchanging relation and gives equal status to Islam and Christianity.
(Sat 10:40-11:00 OH 229)