Our Spring semester of academic programs began with two outstanding Workshop Talks from Edith O’Donnell Graduate Fellows Aditi Samarth and Fatemeh Tashakori, the first nearing completion of the dissertation and the second in the earliest stages of discovery. Samarth traces the transmission and adaptation of burial practices in Hindu diaspora communities (including Dallas); Tashakori is assembling and studying for the first time a group of Persian murals that reframe western images of the female body. Both deal with images, artworks, and ritual in circulation across space and time, overturning existing assumptions and imagining new ways of doing art history. Later this semester, Workshop Talks from our other O’Donnell Fellows will prove similarly generative. We are also looking ahead to putting together our next group of Fellows for the 2018-2019 academic year—a call for applications appears at the end of this newsletter. Meanwhile, we are working hard on two research initiatives that will launch this Fall. In September, the O’Donnell Institute will assume stewardship of The Wilcox Space,with whom we have collaborated over the past five years to show and study the paintings and works on paper of the artist John Wilcox. In this next phase, we will dedicate The Wilcox Space to exhibiting and documenting the work of Dallas-based painters who, like Wilcox, engage with the craft and theory of the medium of painting. Exhibitions at The Wilcox Space will combine with open-access digital publications, public and academic programs, and a small artist’s library built around Wilcox’s own to create a forum or incubator for looking at and thinking about painting.
Also opening its doors this Fall is our new research center in Naples at the Museo di Capodimonte, the Center for the Art and Architectural History of Port Cities / Centro per la Storia dell’Arte e dell’Architettura delle Città Portuali. On my most recent trip to Naples, we finalized a memorandum of understanding between the O’Donnell Institute and the Capodimonte and began work to prepare La Capraia (“the goat farm”), an eighteenth-century agricultural building at the heart of the Museum’s surrounding bosco, to welcome research residents and scholarly programs beginning in September. I also spent time visiting with colleagues at universities, research institutes, and libraries throughout Naples, in an effort to weave the Center into the scholarly life of the city from the very beginning. My hope is that the Center will become a place where scholars from Italy, the United States, and around the world will come together to think in new ways about the art histories of port cities and other centers of encounter, exchange, and transformation.
Dr. Sarah K. Kozlowski
The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History