Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Art History

Faculty & Student News

Faculty News | Student News

Student News

Graduate Student News:

Jordan Pickett: will graduate with the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the field of Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World as a 2014-2015 Dean's Scholar from the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences Graduate Division.

Haohao Lu has been offered a Kress Institutional Fellowship to study at Leiden University for the academic years 2014–2016. She will be researching and writing a dissertation on imagery and desire in the sixteenth-century Southern Low Countries. Haohao is a PhD candidate at the Department of the History of Art.

Bart Pushaw - Has been awarded a Fulbright to Estonia, after finishing his MA at the University of Chicago, Bart has just been awarded a prestigious Flagship Fellowship to study with Baltic art expert Steven Mansbach at the University of Maryland.


brittany sheldon

Brittany Sheldon received the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship 2013. She is researching in Northern Ghana, Africa.

Sirigu Women's Association of Pottery and Arts (SWOPA)


Stephanie Beck Cohen was awarded the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Council on Library and Information Resources Fellowship for Dissertation Research in Original Sources 2013-2014. Stephanie is a PhD candidate in the Department of the History of Art.

Teresa Wilkins has gained the position of the Exhibits Coordinator for the Seminole Tribe of Florida's Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. She is currently a PhD student in the History of Art at Indiana University.

hansen imagelhansen imageLindsey Hansen, PhD student in medieval art, is the recipient of the 2013 Newberry Library-Ecole nationale des chartes Exchange Fellowship, a Friends of Art Travel Grant, and the Theodore Bowie Fellowship.  With the aid of these awards, she is spending six months in Paris studying Latin paleography at the Ecole des chartes and collecting primary source material for her dissertation “The Bishop Performed: Sculpture, Liturgy, and the Construction of Episcopal Authority at Amiens, Bourges and Reims.” Her dissertation examines the ways in which sculpture, architectural space, and liturgical ceremony functioned as parts of a multi-media performative system through which the power of the bishop was both constructed and controlled in late medieval France.

wood photo

Emily Wood is the curatorial assistant in the Whitney Western Art Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. She joined the staff in May 2013 after completing a Master of Arts degree in art history at Indiana University. While at Indiana, she worked as a graduate assistant for the Indiana University Art Museum, and as a content intern at IU Communications. In her spare time, Emily writes for the blog Africa is a Country. She has previously done freelance writing and research for the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


The Center for Craft Creativity & Design has awarded $11,575 to Elizabeth Perrill, Assistant Professor, Art History, The University of North Carolina, Greensboro "Burnished by History: The Legacies of Maria Martinez and Nesta Nala in Dialogue" - a scholarly article and companion artists' interview focused on the legacies of ceramists Maria Marinez (U.S.A.) and Nasta Nala (South Africa). Elizabeth received her PhD from Indiana University, Department of the History of Art.

Kate C. Lemay after earning a dual PhD in Art History and American Studies in 2011, Kate spent a year in Santa Fe as a Research Scholar at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum's Emily Landau Research Center in American Modernism. Currently she is Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at Auburn University at Montgomery, where she teaches 19th and 20th century American Art.


Undergraduate student news:

Claire Adams won the Robert and Avis Tarrant Burke Award for outstanding undergraduate performance. 

Carly Morris won the Departmental Area Award for research and writing in the discipline. 

Samantha Goral, Meredith Hylton, Elizabeth Keefe, and Regina Steiner all won Friends of Art Bookstore Prizes. 

Ruby Wilson won the "Making Change" Prize from the Friends of Art. 

Kate Robinson secured a prestigious internship at the Smithsonian in the education department for The National Museum of African Art. 

Angela Ratigan won the extremely competitive Provost's Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research in the Humanities.

Carly Nicole Morris - Phi Beta Kappa

Regina Anne Steiner - Phi Beta Kappa

Graduate student news:

Heather Coffey has accepted a 3-year appointment to OCAD University, Toronto This is Ontario College of Art and Design University--third largest professional art and design university in North America.


Art History Graduate student group trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art with Australian artist Richard Bell on Friday, April 12, 2013. Students from Jennifer Wagelie's A590 course traveled to Indianapolis to view the Ai Weiwei's "According to What?" exhibition and contemporary galleries with IMA curator Sarah Green and artist Richard Bell, whose work is currently on display at the Indiana University Art Museum. We enjoyed viewing the Ai Weiwei exhibit, which included a retrospective look at his works, as well as a new work inspired by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
From left to right: Stephanie Beck Cohen, Emma Kessler, Richard Bell, Jess Durkin, Justina Yee, and Brittany Sheldon.

Now living in Brisbane, Bell was born in 1953 in Charleville, a small town in southwestern Queensland. During the 1970s he became active in the Aboriginal civil rights movement, and in the late 1980s he began making art as an outgrowth of that activism. Bell works primarily as a painter, but he also creates photographs, films, and installation pieces. While his painting style has affinities with Aboriginal desert painting, the use of letters and texts, popular imagery, irony, appropriation and direct references to the work of Pop artists such as Roy Lichtenstein clearly embed Bell's work in the Western art world mainstream.


Stephanie Beck Cohen, PhD candidate in African Art History, was recently selected for an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship for Dissertation Research in Original Sources.
Next year (2013-2014), she will be one of 17 fellows traveling around the United States to work in museum collections, archives, and libraries, collecting information and seeing works of art related to her dissertation "Quilting, Collecting, and Curating Liberian National Identity 1893-1940." Her dissertation investigates how Liberia's exhibits at World's Fairs in the United States used art and visual culture to shape national identity visually for foreign audiences, specifically focusing on quilting and photography, as well as the curators who put these exhibits together.


Thor Mednick

Thor Mednick, starting in January 2013, will take up a position as Assistant Professor of Modern Art at the University of Toledo. Since graduating in 2009, Thor J. Mednick has been an Assistant Professor of Art at Missouri Southern State University. His primary area of research has been Danish art of the late nineteenth century, and he has recently published an article on that subject in Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide.


Brittany Sheldonsheldon photo
September 2012
Research Report for Summer 2012

This summer (2012) Brittany Sheldon spent three months doing language training and conducting preliminary field research in Ghana. First, she stayed in Accra, where she made connections with scholars and art industry experts. Brittany then spent seven weeks studying Gurenɛ (or Frafra)—the local language spoken in the region where she will conduct her dissertation research—at the University of Education in Winneba, thanks to a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) award. Brittany was then able to spend the final three weeks of her trip in the Upper East Region, the area in which she will conduct her dissertation field research.  During this visit, Brittany traveled to a number of potential research sites, met many interesting people, conducted preliminary interviews. She was also able to make plans for my return in January, when she will be conducting pre-dissertation research, funded by a fellowship from the West African Research Association (WARA).


Lindsey Hansen
Indiana Universityhansen photo
Department of the History of Art
Medieval Art and Architecture
PhD Candidate

Lindsey Hansen is a doctoral student in Medieval Art with interests in architectural sculpture, late medieval Christian iconography and hagiography.  Her dissertation will examine a series of High Gothic portals in northern France dedicated to local saints and bishops.  The aim of her work is to determine the ways in which the portal sculpture functioned to elevate the status of local thirteenth-century bishops by creating links with early Christian martyrs and prestigious church fathers. 

Lindsey was awarded the Russell A. Havens grant for pre-dissertation research in preparation for the submission of her dissertation proposal.  In the summer of 2012, she traveled to France in order to take detailed photographic records of a series of ten Gothic cathedrals in the area around Paris, including Bourges, Chartres, Amiens and Reims, among others.  This summer research yielded nearly 8000 documentary photos which comprise a comprehensive catalog of the sculpture located on the facades and interiors of these churches.  Since returning to the US, Lindsey has been working to identify the figures and iconography present within the sculptural groupings.  Her dissertation topic has evolved directly from the fieldwork carried out during the grant period.


Nancy Palm received her PhD in Art History and American Studies from Indiana University in 2011, after receiving her MA in Art History from the University of Wisconsin and BA in Art History from Southern Illinois University. Her dissertation, “Racial Politics, the National Landscape, and Thomas Cole’s Indian Subjects,” explores the landscape paintings of Hudson River School founder, Thomas Cole, and illuminates the artist’s fascination with Native American subjects and the role his artwork played in perpetuating stereotyped understandings of Native Americans in the nineteenth century. Among other publications, Dr. Palm’s essay, “Forging American History: Landscape Paintings, Native Americans, and National Identity,” appeared in an anthology entitled Shifting Borders: Collected Essays on Boundaries Within Visual Culture (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007).

Dr. Palm has received multiple grants and fellowships, including research fellowships at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Her research focuses on the visual representation of race in the United States, with a particular focus on Native Americans and Indian stereotypes in nineteenth-century American art and literature. Dr. Palm has also given numerous presentations at conferences and symposia on topics including American landscape painting, nationalism and art of the American West, and transnational music traditions in African American painting.

At the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Dr. Palm teaches a range of art history courses, including a survey of art, contemporary art, art of the United States, nineteenth-century art, twentieth-century art, and Native American art. Before joining the art faculty at UNCP, Dr. Palm taught art history courses at the University of Rochester and Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.



Marka women with faso faniGenevieve Hill - Africanist - PhD

Unraveling Traditional Cloth in Burkina Faso

Bold stripes of lustrous indigo and muted hues of green markedly distinguishes faso fani, the national cloth of Burkina Faso, from other cloth patterns woven in West Africa. This cloth is the focus of a Fulbright research project by History of Art graduate student Genevieve Hill –Thomas who is currently in Burkina Faso motoring from village to village looking for women's cotton co-operatives to interview faso fani weavers, visiting markets where weavers sell the cloth and attending animist masquerade events where the cloth is worn.

Faso fani is woven by the Marka people who inhabit a region in the northwest of Burkina Faso. Genevieve first traveled there in 2006 on a Pancoast grant for international research where she laid the groundwork for her proposed course of study exploring the social, religious, and economic impact of the production of faso fani in Burkina Faso Throughout Burkina Faso, the Marka people are revered for their spiritual and healing powers and this extends to the cloth they weave.  It was traditionally worn by the wealthy, serving to visually delineate an upper class and its visual significance remains present in Burkinabe society. In wedding ceremonies, for example, faso fani is given by the groom to his wife marking the change in status from girl to married woman. It can also represent a political affiliation and is worn as a sign of protest against government corruption.

In addition to studying the cultural and sociological significance of faso fani, Genevieve’s project also involves learning the art from renowned masters through an apprenticeship with a weaver and volunteering as an English teacher on Saturdays. She will write her dissertation after returning to Bloomington and will also seek to arrange an exhibition of Burkinabe traditional weaving.

Image: Marka Women with Faso Fani


Byzantine chapel of St. Hilarion's castle

The Author with remains of the Byzantine chapel of St. Hilarion's castle behind him, overlooking the harbor of Kyrenia.

Charles A. Stewart
Indiana University
Department of Art History
Medieval Art & Archaeology
PhD Candidate

A ragtag group of famished yet zealous Crusaders successfully stormed the gates of Jerusalem on July 15th 1099, at once overthrowing Fatimid control over the Holy Land and ushering in an era of cultural exchange. Such interaction between the Latin West and Byzantine and Islamic East is manifested in 12th century architectural design, particularly that of castles and churches. No longer the squat and heavy structures of the preceding century, churches would be built with a graceful and elongated superstructure. Light floods these sacred spaces due to innovations in domed-vaulting techniques and larger windows. Since basilicas with a series of domes were erected in Cyprus before they were erected in France decades later, their design indicates a significant change in medieval self-consciousness and architectural theory. Thanks to the Friends of Art Organization and the Indiana University Department of Art History, I have been able to study the 8th to 10th century domed-churches of Cyprus. My findings from this fieldwork will be incorporated in my doctoral research, in an effort to further expand our knowledge of the architectural designs predating the Crusades.

Thanks to the Friends of Art Organization and the Indiana University Department of Art History, I have been able to study the 12th century domed-churches of Cyprus. My findings from this fieldwork will be incorporated in my doctoral research, in an effort to further expand our knowledge of the architectural designs resulting from the Crusades. 

Nomkubelwane Cultural Festival, South Africa

Elizabeth Perrill with three officiates of the Nomkubelwane Cultural Festival, South Africa.

Elizabeth Perrill
Indiana University
Department of Art History
African Art
PhD candidate

Potters in the Marketplace: South African Ceramics, 1910s to the Present.

As you read, I may be standing next to a home-built kiln in an urban township, interviewing a rural ceramic artist, or elbow-deep in archival documents from 1916. I am doing what I love with the help of past and present support. The Friends of Art, The Indiana University Department of Art History, The Roy Sieber Memorial Fund, The Indiana University International Enhancement Grant, and presently, the 2005-2006 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Grant are all key contributors to my continuing research in South Africa. 

During the 2005-2006 year, I will be examining how South African ceramic artists promote their work in the global art market and the expansion of this ceramic art market since the early-twentieth century. My work will focus on three artists’ groups and highlight the heterogeneous nature of the Zulu-speaking ceramic community. I will work with a commercially successful urban workshop, two rural potting families, and members of the younger, college-bound, urban generation of ceramic artists.

As artists and art historians realize, change and perceptual shifts are the result of long hours of work. Through archival research, aesthetic analysis, and the collection of life-histories I know that my own perceptions of ceramic arts in South Africa will expand and transform many times during the year ahead.

Mrs. Koyei and Kitty Johnson

Mrs. Koyei and Kitty Johnson

Kitty Johnson
Indiana University
Department of Art History
PhD candidate

Street Talk:  Kenyan Matatu Art

A Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship for summer and for the academic year funded study of the Maa language and history courses in Kenya. An Indiana University Office of International Programs (OIP) Pre-Dissertation Travel Grant helped me lay groundwork for dissertation research on Maasai beadwork. 

In addition to Maasai beadwork, I studied matatu art for my MA thesis.  Matatus are 14-seater Nissan vans and 25-seater mini-buses, or manyangas, used for public transportHassan Rasta created a “revolution” in the early 1990s with hit matatus named “The Horse” and “Total Madness” (pc Rasta 8.2004).  Artists still design stunning vehicles and Rasta influences both up-coming and established artists.  This photograph shows Kitty Johnson and Juju, the matatu’s driver, posing with Rasta’s current hit, “Revz.”  Matatus and their art form an important part of Nairobi’s matatu sub-culture.  Artists, local musicians and matatu crew members, such as Juju, gain renown with fans that ride only the “deadly” vehicles.  These must have the most masterful designs, the best and loudest music and the most daring drivers.  

Malick’s studio in Bamako

Malick’s studio in Bamako

Candace M. Keller
J. Stewart and Dagmar K. Riley Graduate Fellowship Award
Indiana University
Department of Art History
PhD candidate

My dissertation examines the history and character of photography in Bamako, Mali from the 1940s to the 1980s, a dynamic period of heightened social, political and cultural change, spanning eras of colonialism, national independence, socialism and democracy. From both historical and contemporary vantage points, I consider Malian photographers working in studio portraiture, reportage photography, entertainment photography, and film, whose creative and revolutionary ideas, style and work continues to hold relevance and influence for photographers and consumers in Mali, Africa and the world today. My research examines how and why individuals create and commission photographs, negotiate meaning and invest significance in these artworks, and considers the roles particular photographers and their traditions of photography have played in the lives of individual patrons and in the flow of Bamako’s dynamic social history.

During the 2003-2004 academic year, I conducted my dissertation research in Mali and in France with the support of a Fulbright-Hays fellowship. While in Mali, I was able to work closely with some fifty photographers, both young and old, including Mr. Malick Sidibe, arguably the most highly acclaimed and influential Malian photographer to date. In fact, he was awarded the prestigious Hasselblad in 2003, the first African photographer to receive the honor.

Since my return to the States, I have been working on post-research projects related to my dissertation such as taped interview transcriptions, translations, writing, and printing photographs in the darkroom from negatives that I collected during my stay in Mali. Fortunately, many of the photographers with whom I worked graciously printed images to be included in my dissertation. However, for those who are no longer with us, and whose family members lack the means to print photographs, I have had the great fortune of their trust and support in loaning me certain negatives from their collections to be printed by me and included in my dissertation. These negatives will be returned to them this November when I will visit Mali once again to attend the sixth biennial photography festival in Bamako entitled Rencontres.

With the support of the J. Stewart and Dagmar K. Riley fellowship that was recently awarded to me by the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University. . In addition to focusing my efforts on writing and completing my dissertation, during this period I will be afforded the opportunity to travel to New York City to work with the Gagosian and Sean Davis galleries—the only institutions in the nation who own the rights to print and distribute the works of Malian photographers Malick Sidibe and Seydou Keita.

Laura E. Smith
Indiana University
Department of Art History
American Art
PhD candidate

Laura E. Smith is a doctoral student in American art history with special interests in Native American art, art of the American West and photography. Her dissertation will be on the photographs of Horace Poolaw, A Kiowa artist from Oklahoma who took images of individuals in his community in the 1920s and 1930s.

She has published two articles in the year 2005. One in the spring 2005 issue of American Indian Art Magazine entitled “Picturing Zuni in the New Deal Era: the Clara Brignac Gonzales Collection of Zuni Day School Drawings and Paintings, 1925-1945.” This article focuses on a previously unexamined collection of artwork created by Zuni students during a period that combined Indian education with political reform. These drawings reflect the rapidly fluctuating conceptions of a Zuni reality and the role of art in Indiana schools around the New Deal era. She argues that the significance of these works is found in their ability to engage multiple contexts for interpretation and to challenge notions that the relationship between knowledge, identity, and imagery is fixed.

Her second, Photography, Criticism, and Native American Women’s Identity in three Works by Jolene Rickard, has been published in Third Text 18(1), January 2005. It focuses on three photographic works by Native American artist and scholar Jolene Rickard. These works, created between 1988 and 1998, have been published and read by both Native and non-Native critics, most of whom have considered her photography as an affirmation of Native women’s identity without responding to theories that have deconstructed the truthfulness of photography and the mutability of the self. Therefore, she argues that these well-meaning writers have perpetuated essentialist and static notions of Native American women. Her paper constructs a new reading of Rickard’s work that finds political and self-liberation for Native women in her pictures through their refusal to locate a whole sense of self or a completely apparent presence.

Jennifer Heusel and Matt Backer

Jennifer Heusel and Matt Backer In the spring of 2004, Jennifer Heusel and Matt Backer both presented papers on the painter Eldzier Cortor at the Herman C. Hudson Symposium on African American and African Diaspora Culture. Over the course of the following two years, with the help and inspiration of Assistant Professor John Bowles and Curator of Works on Paper Nanette Brewer, Heusel and Backer collaborated to curate "Black Spirit": Works on Paper by Eldzier Cortor. The show included representative work from the broad spectrum of Cortor's career, including heroic portraits of WPA-era Chicagoans and recent prints of the African American female figure. Cortor has always been best known for his work with the black female nude; the show historicized the artist's symbol of African American experience (the "Black Spirit") by demonstrating the Gullah and Caribbean sources that inspired his artistic treatment. On view in the Indiana University Art Museum's Special Exhibitions Gallery from March 7 until May 7, 2006, "Black Spirit" would not have been possible without the support of the Friends of Art and the Department of Art History. Heusel traveled to Chicago to research the neighborhood of Cortor's youth and early career, and Backer visited Kenkeleba Gallery in New York, the artist's primary representative, and Howard University in Washington, D.C., in order to select prints and drawings for the show. To accompany the show, the co-curators produced a scholarly brochure, a landmark in the scant scholarship devoted to this important African American artist. Heusel has been able to draw on her research as she completes her Masters Essay, also on the subject of Eldzier Cortor.

Thor Mednick

Thor Mednick

Thor Mednick
Indiana University
Department of Art History
PhD candidate

Pre-dissertation grants from the Russell A. Havens Endowment support graduate students in the department who are conducting research preparatory to their submission of dissertation proposals. In the summer of 2004, this grant was awarded to Thor J. Mednick, who traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark to research museum collections and gather sources. His dissertation will investigate the relationship between nationalism and artistic production in late nineteenth-century Denmark. Focusing especially on the Symbolists (a group that emerged in the early 1890s), Mednick will demonstrate that the growing interest in finding a uniquely Danish language of representation (in the visual and literary arts) had a profound impact on the artworks produced around the turn of the century.