Four students receive prestigious predoctoral fellowships
The department would like to recognize and congratulate four of our students — Alexandra Courtois de Vicose, Aaron Hyman, Grace Harpster, Michelle “Micki” McCoy — for winning competitive predoctoral fellowships. Micki and Aaron received fellowships from the Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), Alexandra won an award from the George Lurcy Fellowship Program, and Grace received The Fulbright-Hays Dissertation Research Award. Please read more below about these fellowship winners and their research.
Alexandra Courtois de Vicose, 2015-16 Georges Lurcy Fellow, works on Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the perceived marginality of his art and persona, and the critical rhetoric assessing his oeuvre as stemming from a ‘deviant body.’ Rather than focus on a medical diagnosis as cause for his artistic choices, Alexandra turns to the society in which Lautrec lived and created. Using a Disability Studies framework to formulate a nuanced sociological and cultural construction of disability in late nineteenth-century Paris, Alexandra proposes to frame Lautrec’s oeuvre and life in a new light. Using a selection of photographs, drawings, paintings and prints, she investigates how his construction of self, shaped by Belle Époque culture, literary and scientific currents, informed his representations of chosen subjects. She will travel to France as well as London, Berlin and Brussels during the 2015-16 academic year.
Grace Harpster will spend the 2015-16 academic year doing dissertation research in Rome and Milan, thanks to a Fulbright research fellowship. Her project traces the itineraries of Carlo Borromeo (1538-1584), famed Counter-Reformation cardinal-archbishop and later saint, to five different sites on the Italian peninsula. Borromeo’s pilgrimages and patronages lead from church furnishings in S. Prassede in Rome to the Marian shrine at Loreto and the Holy Shroud relic of Turin, and on to the Sacro Monte polychrome sculpture at Varallo before ending with his death and subsequent cult in Milan. His pathways function to connect famed Renaissance ‘Art’, liturgical instruments, and cult images, substituting later art historical categorizations with a more endemic definition of sacre immagini. Grace aims to demonstrate that only through an exploration of image-based practice rather than theory–Borromeo was neither art theorist nor theologian–can we gain an accurate picture of how art and sacrality interacted in the early modern Catholic world.
Aaron Hyman received the Center’s Andrew W. Mellon fellowship, an award meant to support scholarship outside Europe and the United States with a particular cross-cultural emphasis. His dissertation, entitled Rubens in a New World: Prints, Authorship, and Transatlantic Intertextuality, treats the reception of prints by the seventeenth-century Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens in colonial Latin America. In the colonial period, European prints flooded the New World, and today Latin American churches and museums are filled with paintings that were copied or derived from these European sources. Aaron uses this transatlantic frame to reassess how works of art relate to one another across geographic distances and cultural divides and to rethink the terms through which early modern authorship has been understood: originality, invention, replication, and the slavish copy. Before taking up residence at the Center in 2016-17, he will spend the year based in Mexico City and Cuzco, Peru completing research for this project.
Michelle “Micki” McCoy, the 2015-17 Ittleson fellow, is writing a dissertation on the visual culture of Chinese and Inner Asian astrology and astronomy during their “golden age” from the tenth to fourteenth century. In this material, forms and concepts often appear in unexpected places, such as the western zodiac signs encircling a rock-cut Daoist shrine in present-day Sichuan and the Chinese asterisms adorning the ceiling of a Turkic Buddhist grotto on the eastern Silk Road. The body of paintings and Tangut-language texts from the Xixia kingdom, an Inner Asian state in which astral deities formed an official cult, sheds particularly important light on the processes of cultural translation at the heart of the astral arts in this period. Micki’s dissertation will not only establish new connections among heterogeneous cultural realms, but also show how these processes of knowledge transfer and adaptation were fundamentally visual. She is spending 2015-16 doing fieldwork in Asia and Europe and will take up her residency in 2016-17 at the Center in Washington, DC.