Newsletter 2021: Faculty News
Monday, May 17, 2021
Monday, May 17, 2021
Gülru Çakmak served her first year as the Graduate Program Director in 2019-20. In addition to the position’s regular tasks, she undertook two initiatives: Graduate Diversity Fellowship and Graduate Student Departmental Climate Survey. Her extensive outreach efforts to Minority Serving Institutions led to an exponential increase in the applications for the MA program. In summer 2020, in response to the pandemic, she coordinated virtual summer internships and jobs for all the graduate and recently graduated students. She was shortlisted for the Distinguished Teaching Award, and served on the College Outstanding Teaching Award committee. She worked on two book manuscripts, one on Ottoman art, a new research specialization, and began language classes in Ottoman Turkish. She became an associate editor at H-France Salon, and was a consultant on a BBC television programme on the French painter Jean-Léon Gérôme.
Walter Denny's extensive sabbatical plans for the spring of 2020 involved a great deal of travel in Europe and the Middle East, all of which ended up cancelled due to COVID-19. So Walter worked on his library, on a number of projects that were "in the pipeline" and on labeling photographs donated to the university's Digital Scholarship Center. He gave online lectures or symposium presentations for, among others, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, The New England Rug Society, and the Arthur Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies at UMass Amherst. Since March of 2020, he has left Amherst only once, to work on a documentary film about the Department of Textile Conservation at the Met, where he chairs the Visiting Committee. Among new publications is an article in the 2020 Textile Museum Journal on the Anhalt Carpet in the Metropolitan. New projects in San Francisco, Portland OR, and Cincinnati are set to resume once the pandemic ends.
During her sabbatical year, Sonja Drimmer spent the spring as a fellow at the National Humanities Center. The Historians of British Art awarded her book, The Art of Allusion: Illuminators and the Making of English Literature, 1403-1476 (Penn, 2018), High Commendation for Exemplary Scholarship. She delivered a plenary address for the Southeastern Medieval Association and invited lectures at Johns Hopkins University and UNC Chapel Hill. She also ran a manuscripts workshop at JHU and co-organized another workshop at the Walters Art Museum. She published an article in the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, an essay on a medieval political poster in a Harlaxton volume, and she edited a special journal issue of Digital Philology devoted to manuscript copies of printed books.
Ximena Gómez helped found the department’s Anti-Racism Committee and continued to develop classes that foreground race in the art of the Americas, including a new graduate seminar on Afro-Latin American art. She was nominated for a university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award. She gave innumerable presentations over Zoom, including guest lectures in classes at Amherst, Smith, and the University of Delaware, and invited talks for the Institute of Hispanic Culture of Houston, Joslyn Museum of Art, and the Yale History of Art Department’s Medieval/Renaissance Forum. She also remained active on campus, serving as a member of Building Bridges working group, as well as the UMass Native Advisory Council, through which she helped develop the official Land Acknowledgment for UMass and the Five Colleges.
Christine I. Ho was on sabbatical during fall 2020. Although unable to travel as originally planned, she gave invited talks on her recently published book and on a new project about the concept of the decorative in modern Chinese art; she also prepared for other talks that she will be giving on decorative arts history and ethnography, and on landscape painting and ecology. She planned a new course on craft and design in Japan, which she will teach online in spring 2021. In the future, the course will include a significant hands-on component with makers, craftspeople, and collections in the Pioneer Valley. Meanwhile, she continued to shepherd reviews on new books in Chinese and Korean books through the editorial process for College Art Association’s online review site, caa.reviews.
Karen Kurczynski’s book on The Cobra Movement in Postwar Europe: Reanimating Art was published in July 2020, with Routledge. In September, she co-organized the celebratory salon “Constellations of Modernism” at the Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Amherst College with Christine Ho, Niko Vicario of Amherst College, and Alex Seggerman of Rutgers University. Over the summer, she worked on an essay on Black Lives Matter and contemporary artist Steve Locke and did curatorial work on Sideshow: Nicole Eisenman’s Modernist Inspirations, an exhibition to accompany the Eisenman exhibition at the UMCA for fall 2021. She worked with MA students Abigail Clark to produce wall labels and texts for Sideshow, and Jill Hughes to research race and drawing in contemporary art. She also developed an independent study on East German art with German PhD student Savannah Champion. In the fall, she taught a new seminar on Biology and Art and converted Modern Art to a new global Gen Ed using Team-Based Learning online. She developed a new Museum Studies seminar for spring and redesigned Contemporary Art as a Service Learning course, where her students will work with local high school students to facilitate dialogues about contemporary art, museums, and belonging.
Laetitia La Follette was promoted to professor and completed her six-year tenure as founding chair of the department on Sept 1, 2020. She passed the baton on to Monika Schmitter, who has yet to enjoy the lovely corner office of the chair, since most of us are not in our campus offices, but teaching from home due to the pandemic. Covid has made Laetitia’s job as president of the AIA interesting. Fortunately, she helped hire an executive director and a director of development for the AIA last spring. They and the team at the Boston HQ are doing a terrific job, launching new virtual “Archaeology Abridged” minilectures monthly on Zoom and successfully managing the organization’s first virtual conference in January among other initiatives. Laetitia’s presidential plenary at the conference focused on archaeology and new technologies and brought together luminaries working all over the world including Dr. David Reich from Harvard Medical School, a geneticist who specializes in the analysis of ancient DNA.
Nancy Noble taught an honors introductory survey, Careers in Art History, and co-taught The Digital Art Historian with Brian Shelburne, head of the UMass Amherst Digital Scholarship Center. In fall 2020, she served as undergraduate program director and organized “Success Stories: The World Beyond the Major,” the department’s annual evening of conversations with department alumni. In spring 2021, she was named associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. An exhibition she curated, featuring early 20th century Connecticut women artists, will be on view at the St. Joseph University Art Museum in summer 2021.
Timothy M. Rohan co-founded UMass Brut, a campus group advocating preservation of UMass’s modernist buildings. As part of its activities, he is planning a fall 2021 conference held jointly with UMass Dartmouth. He also advised undergraduates who curated a related exhibition about the Southwest dormitories installed in the Greenbaum Gallery at the Commonwealth Honors College in spring 2021. Despite the Covid emergency, Tim continued to talk about his research. He participated in a panel discussion and gave two lectures about his new work on interiors. He also published an article in an edited volume, a book review in a journal, a museum catalog entry, and completed two commissioned articles. He successfully adapted his classes for online teaching. He has been heartened by the former students who kept in touch during this difficult year and wishes them all well. Please keep sending photos!
Monika Schmitter has been working hard on bringing her book, The Art Collector in Early Modern Italy: Andrea Odoni and his Venetian Palace, to press. It will be published in fall 2021 by Cambridge University Press (see book cover design here!). The extensive illustration program was funded by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and by a Furthermore Grant in Publishing (a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund). Working together with Director of the Kinney Center for Renaissance Studies Marjorie Rubright, Monika has also been organizing events at the center, such as last year’s symposium on Amer-Asia and this year’s “Caravaggio in Conversation,” where graduate students Siyu Shen (’20) and Andy Bowers will present their work in progress.
Meg Vickery was named a Public Engagement Fellow for the 2019-20 year. Her work as a fellow resulted in the publication of her article, “Solar farms, power stations and water treatment plants can be attractions instead of eyesores” in The Conversation in May of 2020. She also co-authored a paper with Carolina Aragon in the landscape architecture and regional planning department. While the prepared talk was canceled due to COVID-19, the paper titled, “Productive Landscapes Past & Future: Renewable Energy Technologies in Design Pedagogy” was peer reviewed and published in the Landscape Research Record. Her recent book, Landscape and Infrastructure: Re-Imagining the Pastoral Paradigm for the 21st Century will be reprinted in paperback in February 2021. Meg has also served as a guest editor on the Board of Chapter Editors for the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Women in Architecture for which she has also written a chapter. She serves as the associate secretary/treasurer for the newly formed Women in Architecture affiliate group of the Society of Architectural Historians. She is also co-chair of a new networking committee for the Energy Transition Institute at UMass in which she hopes to spark discussion and collaboration across disciplines. In fall 2020, she taught a new course, Women in Architecture, which examined cultural attitudes towards women and the built environment as well as the history of women practicing in the field.