We are proud to announce that three of our EODIAH Fellows received their doctorates last Fall with dissertations on museum education, contemporary Mexican art, and nineteenth-century French drawings. We expect to graduate two more Fellows at the end of the Spring!
Rebecca Becker Daniels
TEEN PROGRAMS IN TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY ART MUSEUMS: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF NINE AMERICAN PROGRAMS
American art museums have conceived of themselves as educational institutions for their largely urban publics and have invested space, time, effort, and money to fulfill their educational missions. Twenty-first century museums seek to engage the public, yet attendance is trending down and museum audiences reflect only a small portion of the increasingly diverse American public. In response, some museums offer programs specifically for teenagers, many who live in previously underserved neighborhoods. This dissertation is a qualitative, phenomenological study of nine such programs in five American cities, which ascertains the characteristics of these programs, analyzes the transformative influence of technology, and evaluates how engagement with art can benefit teens, the museum, and the surrounding urban community. I rely on the historical context of museum education, the developmental milestones that occur during the teen years, and educational theories about digital technology to connect the capabilities and limitations of teens to their experiences in art museums. In addition, I situate each museum within the urban conditions of its city and investigate the role of the museum as a physical and social place in a digital age. I propose three characteristics that demonstrate quality teen programming and support each characteristic with anecdotes gleaned from observations and interviews. First, the program mutually benefits both the museum and the teenagers. Second, the program actively keys into networks both inside and extending beyond their own museum. Third, the program embraces technology and reimagines new ways to interact with art. Results of this study demonstrate that the best gauge of teen programs’ performance is the balance of three intersecting components: the art and architecture that create place, the digital technology that pervades teens’ lives, and the interpersonal relationships that these programs generate. A richer understanding of teen programming will aid in the development of twenty-first century museums that are a vital part of public life, benefitting their own institutions, their participants, and the surrounding urban community.
Debra J. DeWitte
PUBLIC EXHIBITIONS OF DRAWING IN PARIS, FRANCE (1860-1890): A STUDY IN DATA-DRIVEN ART HISTORY
This project delves into the study of works on paper (pastels, watercolors, charcoals, and drawings) that were exhibited in Paris between 1860 and 1890. The exhibition of drawings during these years has not previously been analyzed from a macro level largely because the resources were not available to do so. Instead, art historians have more often focused on individuals or small groups of artists, and from these findings, have made inferences about the art world as a whole. However, of the thousands of artists who exhibited drawings in the Salon during this period, art historians would be challenged today to recognize even 5% of their names. Through a revelation of the exhibitors of drawings during these years, there is considerable evidence of successful nineteenth-century artists that are not known or studied today. Thus, this project also aims to demonstrate the efficacy of data analysis in the field of art history. Case studies include state-funded exhibitions, such as the World’s Fairs held in Paris and the Paris Salon, and exhibitions organized by dealers and artist societies, such as Société des aquarellistes français, Société des pastellistes français, and the Impressionists. By comparing private exhibitions orchestrated by dealers and artist societies with state-sponsored exhibition strategies, the importance of works on paper as objects to promote artists is better established. This dissertation also continues the conversation among scholars about the degree to which groups like the Impressionists were dissimilar from traditional artists presented at the Salon.
DEATH AND THE INVISIBLE HAND: CONTEMPORARY MEXICAN ART, 1988-PRESENT
Monica Salazar’s dissertation is about the presence of death in contemporary Mexican art, specifically the ways in which it transforms an ancient tradition while reflecting the sociopolitical changes brought about by the neoliberal policies that were put into place during the presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988–1994). It studies the relationship between the narrative of death representations in Mexican art; the economic and sociopolitical turmoil of the 1990s; and the presence of death in the works of prominent contemporary Mexican artists—among them Teresa Margolles, María García-Ibañez, Gabriel de la Mora, Lenin Márquez Salazar, and Gonzalo García—in order to argue that their work not only transforms the national tradition of death to which it belongs, but also responds to the unprecedented changes imposed by neoliberalism. Her dissertation also argues that the current crisis of place—an overarching anxiety over the physical territory of the country (which is threatened by neoliberalism)—has a strong presence in contemporary Mexican art, and is evident in its treatment of the national symbol of death. It demonstrates how the ending of decades of land distribution that were crucial in the construction of a national identity bound to the land, where the bones of its ancestors lay, was the catalyst for new kinds of death representations that appeal to the senses, the emotions, and universal ideas. Through the study of a selection of artworks of contemporary Mexican artists who sharply interrogate the idea of death in Mexico, this project shows how the death imagery that started to appear in the art of the 1990s marks a radical break from the traditional symbolism of the nationalistic imagery started by José Guadalupe Posada and Diego Rivera, reflecting no less than a reinvention of the national identity in the face of globalization.