Category: ISAAC

ISAAC Report Fall 2018

The Institute welcomed our our second group of ISAAC fellows from Nanjing University this fall. Senior Scholar Dr. Hansong Dan, Associate Professor, School of Foreign Studies; Junior Scholar Ting Zhang, PhD Student, The Art Institute; and Dr. Weiyi Wu, Assistant Researcher, The Art Institute. Dr. Dan was in residence for two months, and Ms. Zhang and Dr. Wu are currently in residence through August 2019. The scholars began their research travel in October 2018 with trips to New Mexico and Chicago.

ISAAC scholars and American art historian Penelope Hunter-Stiebel in collection storage at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art.

ISAAC scholars and ISAAC Coordinator Lauren LaRocca in the Alcove House at Bandelier National Park, located 140 feet above the floor of Frijoles Canyon

The trip to New Mexico introduced the scholars to the art, culture, history, and landscape of the Southwest. The group was warmly welcomed to Santa Fe by staff at the New Mexico Museum of Art with tours of recently opened exhibitions, Shifting Light: Photographic Perspectives and Good Company: Five Artist Communities. Primary focus during the trip was given to collections of Native art with visits to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, the Ralph T. Coe Center, and the Indian Arts Research Center. A half-day trip to Bandelier National Monument highlighted the unique New Mexican landscape and archeological sites of early native peoples. New Mexico continues to delight and challenge our scholars in their research areas of photography and Native art. 

In Chicago the scholars visited significant collections of American art at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. The scholars also had the opportunity to visit two private collections. Works by the Chicago imagists featured prominently in one collection, while the other showcased a richly diverse selection of works on paper from the 16th to the late 20th century. They were also treated to a private showing of the documentary “Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists” with Director Leslie Buchbinder. Focus was also given to Chicago’s architecture with a tour of downtown Chicago icons and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park home and studio.

ISAAC scholars and Dr. Brettell at the Art Institute of Chicago study room with Curator Jay Clarke

ISAAC scholars, Dr. Brettell, and Dr. Max Schich tour the grounds of the University of Chicago and Hyde Park

The scholars look forward to a busy spring with research trips and a workshop talk. Ting and Weiyi will present reports on their current research on Tuesday, April 30; you can check the Institute’s Programs page for more information.  We hope you can join us!

O’Donnell Fellows and Visiting Researchers Updates

Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, Margaret of Austria, 1605. Oil on canvas, 204.6 x 121.2 cm. Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 404970



Rebecca Quinn-Teresi, EODIAH Graduate Fellow

In March, Rebecca Quinn Teresi will deliver a paper at the annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America in Toronto. Her paper, “The Queen of Spain at English Court: Devotion and Diplomacy in Anglo-Spanish Relations, 1604–06,” will be part of the session “Re-assessing the Early Modern Court I: Networks and Mobility.” The paper is an abbreviated version of a chapter of her dissertation and incorporates the research she undertook in museums and archives around London last fall. 


Jacquelyn Delin McDonald, EODIAH Graduate Fellow

Jacquelyn Delin McDonald, whose thesis is “Modeling Fame, a Closer Look at the Work of Sculptor Elisabet Ney”, will be presenting two papers this semester.

At the Nineteenth Century Studies Association “Explorations” Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, she will be presenting “A Look at the German-American Sculptor Elisabet Ney: Was it a mistake to move to Texas?”

At the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies “Monuments and Memory” Conference at SMU (Southern Methodist University), she will present “Considering the Agency of ‘außergewöhnlich’‘Sculptress’ Elisabet Ney in the Albert Sidney Johnson Memorial”.


(L-R) Marjaneh Goudarzi, Fatima Esmail, Nausheen Hoosein, and our ISAAC Chinese Scholar Weiyi Wu at an EODIAH gathering


Jacopo Gnisci, Former EODIAH Graduate Fellow

EODIAH alum Jacopo Gnisci published “Illuminated Leaves from an Ethiopic Gospel Book in the Newark Museum and in the Walters Art Museum” in Hiob Ludolf Centre for Ethiopian Studies. His article focuses on two series of loose illuminated folios kept in the collections of the Newark Museum and of the Walters Art Museum. 

ISAAC Year 1 Report 2018

Liu Yi and Gao Xin in the Crystal Bridges’ Rare Book Collection

Our ISAAC scholars had a very full spring and summer travel schedule in 2018. In February we spent a week in Washington, D.C. and visited the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and the Phillips Collection. Each visit provided exceptional insight into the development and diversity of American art. At each institution we were welcomed by knowledgeable staff and engaged in meaningful dialogues. The nation’s capital provided a firm foundation in America’s history and its art.

In March we ventured to St. Louis and Minneapolis-St. Paul, and were joined by Andrew Walker, Director of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in St. Louis. In addition to time at the St. Louis Art Museum and Kemper Art Museum we visited two private art collections with excellent examples of American Regionalism and its antecedents including artists Tomas Hart Benton, Hale Woodruff, Charles Burchfield, and Joe Jones. In Minnesota we drove along the Mississippi River, largely still frozen, to visit the delightful Minnesota Marine Art Museum (MMAM) in Winona, MN. MMAM is home to a large variety of European and American masterworks including examples from the Hudson River School, Impressionism, and American Realism and Modernism. We spent our final day at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia), immersed in the impressive Kunin Collection, one of the foremost collections of American modern art in private hands.

Liu Yi at the Gilcrease Museum of Art with Senior Curator Laura Fry

In April EODIAH Visiting Assistant Professor and MA Program Chair Dr. Paul Galvez accompanied the scholars to Philadelphia and New York City. In Philadelphia the scholars visited the Barnes Collection, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A walking tour of old city Philadelphia gave particular attention to the architecture and urban planning. A visit to the University of Pennsylvania’s John Morgan Building revealed Thomas Eakins’ Agnew Clinic before heading to New York City. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art the scholars met with curator Sylvia Mount and discussed the changing paradigms for studying and exhibiting American art in the museum’s permanent collection, with particular focus on broadening the range of “American” art to include the Americas and cross-cultural exchanges. At the Whitney curator Barbara Haskell led the scholars through the Grant Wood exhibition explaining the selection of works, including their efforts to reconsider the category of “regionalism” that is often associated with Wood’s work. Their trip concluded with architecture-focused visits to the Frick Collection and the Guggenheim Museum.

An Ozarks trip in May began in Bentonville, Arkansas at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. We met with Assistant Curator Jen Padgett and toured the galleries, with a focus on their 19th century landscapes and early Modernism paintings. A tour of the Bachman-Wilson House, an example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian architecture, posed a nice comparison to the Robie House in Chicago, an example of Wright’s Prairie School style. The day ended in the Rare Books collection, comprised of historic books and manuscripts dating back to the 16th century.

In Tulsa we focused on important collections of Western American Art with visits to the Philbrook Museum of Art and the Gilcrease Museum to view works by Frederic Remington, Albert Bierstadt, and Thomas Moran’s stunning painting, Spectres from the North. We visited the Helmerich Center, its hallways lined with framed facsimiles of historic documents, including the Fort Reno Ledger Drawings (1879 and 1887) and a certified copy of the Declaration of Independence signed by Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane.

ISAAC Scholars and Amon Carter staff Brett Abbott and Maggie Adler at the Grand Teton National Park

A geyser at Yellowstone National Park

The scholars’ final trip was led by the Amon Carter’s Brett Abbot, Director of Collections and Exhibitions, and Maggie Adler, Curator, to Wyoming in June. It centered around visits to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and aimed at providing the scholars with first-hand experience of the raw power of America’s grand western landscape – a setting that has dramatically influenced, and in turn been deeply impacted by, the development of American painting and photography from the 19th century to the present.

Each trip was filled with exciting discoveries and lively intellectual discussions with scholars, curators, archivists, librarians, and collectors, among others. Speaking for myself and the Institute, it has been an immense pleasure to work with Gao Xin and Liu Yi and introduce them to collections, archives, and libraries throughout the United States and equip them with the knowledge and experience to teach American art history to their undergraduate students.

The Institute will welcome our second group of ISAAC fellows from Nanjing University in late August. Senior Scholar Dr. Hansong Dan, Associate Professor, School of Foreign Studies; Junior Scholar Ting Zhang, PhD Student, The Art Institute; and Dr. Weiyi Wu, Assistant Researcher, The Art Institute. Dr. Dan will be in residence for two months, and Ms. Zhang and Dr. Wu will be in residence for two academic semesters. Each of the scholars will present a workshop on their current research; you can check the Institute’s Programs page this fall for more information.

ISAAC Report 2017-2018

The Institute welcomed our first group of ISAAC scholars from Nanjing University last fall and we took our first research trip in early October to Chicago. The Terra Foundation of American Art staff, Director Elizabeth Glassman, Curator PJ Brownlee, and Carrie Haslett, Program Director of Exhibition & Academic Grants, welcomed us to the city. A special tour of their impressive collection included early American landscapes, portraiture and genre painting.

Liu Yi and Gao Xin in the Terra Foundation’s art vault



ISAAC scholars at the Block Museum of Art’s study room with Curator Corinne Granoff

Our week included visits to significant American art museum collections including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. Each institution’s curatorial staff graciously hosted our group and engaged in meaningful dialogue with the scholars. Midway through the week, we travelled to the South Side to meet renowned Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt at his studio. Executed in welded and cast steel, aluminum, copper, and bronze, Hunt’s abstract creations are in collections across the globe, including his 2016 installation at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Gao Xin and artist Richard Hunt in his studio

We also had the opportunity to visit four private collections. Works by the Chicago Imagists featured prominently in two of the collections; another contained a comprehensive collection of photographs that spanned the history of the medium. The fourth displayed Arts and Crafts collections in settings created to reflect the aesthetics of the movement, including the work of Gustav Stickley.


Following Chicago was a trip in mid-October to New Mexico, with time in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Abiquiú, and Taos. The scholars were introduced to the art, culture, history, and landscape of the Southwest. Our trip began with a drive to Albuquerque, the new home for Dallas artist Jean Lacy and her son Nathaniel Lacy, and her large collection of art and objects including folk art and Native American pottery. Lacy’s own work focuses on the African-American experience. She shared her recent work with the scholars, a series of cigar boxes that display small tableaus of found objects and text that respond to current issues of race and politics.



Gao Xin at the Georgia O’Keeffe Research Center with Director Eumie Imm Stroukoff





View from Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiú Home and Studio

An important focus of the trip was on the life and work of Georgia O’Keeffe, with time at the O’Keeffe Museum and Research Center, and her Abiquiú home and studio. Scenic drives to and from our appointments revealed familiar landscapes and forms seen in O’Keeffe’s work. Other notable collections of folk art and Taos art were at the International Museum of Folk Art and the Harwood Museum respectively.

Dr. Zhou Xian in the International Folk Art Museum’s art storage with Curator Laura Addison

The scholars will take five more research trips this year before they return to Nanjing in August. Their travels will take them to Washington, D.C., up the Rockies from Denver to Cody, up the Mississippi from St. Louis to Minneapolis, to Philadelphia and New York City, and to Arkansas and Oklahoma. Opportunities to meet scholars, students, and collectors and to explore collections, archives, and libraries throughout the United States serve to train a new generation of Chinese art historians who are equipped to teach American art history at the university level throughout China.


Please join us on Tuesday, March 6th, 4:00 p.m. in the DMA Research Center for a research report from our ISAAC scholars. Liu Yi is working on a book about American landscape painting, and Gao Xin is working on a study of American Modernism and its interactions with various forms of European Modernism. Both are brilliant, personable, and very important for scholarly relations with China since each will write the first books in Chinese on American Art before 1945. Yi and Xin will each share their research projects and future plans to create an undergraduate seminar for their students upon their return to China. I hope you can join us in March and meet these exceptional scholars.


Lauren LaRocca

Coordinator of Special Programs

The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History