U of R’s Jessica Horton Wins Visual Arts Fellowship

Univ. Communications – University of Rochester doctoral student Jessica Horton has been named a 2011 Wyeth Fellow by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). Horton, a doctoral student in Visual and Cultural Studies (VCS) in the Department of Art and Art History, has earned one of nine predoctoral fellowships awarded each year.

“Jessica’s dissertation project is well-researched, beautifully written, and promises to be a paradigm changer not only in Native American art history but in the broader study of contemporary art and visual culture,” according to Joan Saab, associate professor of art history and visual and cultural studies, and chair of VCS.

Horton studies 20th-century Native American art, particularly the work of artists influenced by the American Indian Movement in the 1970s. She is interested in how their work now circulates internationally. “Showing how native artists work internationally can give us a broader picture of how globalization has occurred historically,” says Horton. “Native people have been traveling overseas for centuries because of colonial exhibitions and missionary projects, and contemporary artists are interested in investigating the links between then and now.” Horton’s dissertation advisor and mentor in the VCS program is Professor Janet Berlo, who said, “Jessica is multi-talented, vibrant, an exceptional writer and scholar,” and added that her “commitment to scholarship is informed by ethics and intellectual inquiry of the highest order.”

Wyeth fellowships are awarded annually, for 24-month terms, to outstanding students in the dissertation phase of their graduate work. As a Wyeth fellow, Horton will spend a year of the fellowship in the United States and abroad doing research, and a year in residence with CASVA, the research branch of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Horton plans to conduct research in Santa Fe, N.M., and to spend time in Venice, Italy, and Sydney, Australia. She will spend the second year of the program in Washington, where she will have access to the professors and curators at the National Gallery of Art and other affiliated institutions, including the National Museum of the American Indian. Horton has done research in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum archives in the past, and received a 2008 Fellowship for Historians of American Art to Travel Abroad from CASVA, which she used to visit indigenous women’s weaving cooperatives in southern Mexico and Guatemala.

Horton will be one of 10 spending the summer with the Terra summer residency program in Giverny, France, home of painter Claude Monet, during the summer of 2011. The Terra Foundation for American Art supports artists and scholars from the United States and Europe with lodging, study, and studio spaces for eight-week terms, and also offers a series of seminars and independent studies with senior artists and scholars in residence.

She also has written an article titled, “Alone on the Snow/Alone on the Beach: ‘A Global Sense of Place’ in Atanarjuat and Fountain” which will be published in Journal of Transnational American Studies, in a special forum on “charting transnational Native American studies.” She also has forthcoming publications in The Visual Culture Reader, and CAA Reviews.

Originally from northern California, Horton earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at San Diego in art history and political science. Local communities, including the reservations and independent nations in both areas of California, feature “incredibly rich artistic traditions that have a lot more to offer to expand art history,” according to Horton.

The visual and cultural studies program is an interdisciplinary doctoral program, housed in the Department of Art and Art History. The program draws from coursework and faculty expertise in several University of Rochester humanities departments. Because the primary faculty work in art and art history, film studies, modern languages and cultures, and anthropology, students are able to relate literary and cultural theory to visual culture, and to investigate the connections among cultural productions, critical theory, and society.

(Story courtesy of Valerie Alhart, University Communications)

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