Prof. Romano probes marble portrait of Alexander in new book

Alexander the Great has been popular for over 2,300 years, but University of Arizona Art History Professor Irene Bald Romano explains how the image and myths surrounding one of history’s greatest military generals have been manipulated and appropriated in her new book.

Professor Irene Bald Romano

In “Beth Shean Studies: Aspects of Religion, History, Art, and Archaeology in Hellenistic and Roman Nysa-Scythopolis,” Romano and co-author Kyle W. Mahoney probe two artifacts excavated in 1925 in Beth Shean, Israel — a Roman marble portrait of Alexander the Great and a Hellenistic-inscribed stele fragment — by the Palestine Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania Museum.

The book includes an appendix by two scientists in Athens who conducted the analysis of the marble of Alexander’s head and identified the quarry. The American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia supported Romano’s research with grants and agreed to publish the book in a series which has been continuously published since 1771 — the oldest publication in America — and now distributed by Penn Press.

The University of Arizona School of Art recently interviewed Romano, who uses an object-biography approach in the book to trace the modern history of the portrait of Alexander, showing how its movements mirror the history of the creation of museums in Jerusalem.

Q. What drew you to do research on the marble head of Alexander the Great?

A. I began my interest in the sculpture from the site of Beth Shean in Israel in the early 2000s when I was writing a book on all of the Classical sculpture in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. Included among the Penn Museum’s collection are colossal marble finger fragments that were found in the same place and at the same time as a marble portrait of Alexander the Great — in a cistern on top of the tel of Beth Shean, or ancient Nysa-Scythopolis. The fingers don’t belong to the Alexander statue, but they got me interested in what other sculpture fragments were found in the same context. I was able to go to Israel in the summer of 2016 to study the marble portrait of Alexander the Great, with the help of a grant from the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and the welcome support of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem where the Alexander head is located. More recently, I invited my colleague Kyle to write a chapter in the book on a Greek inscription that was found in the same cistern and that tells part of the earlier history of the site, in the 2nd century B.C.

Q. A Netflix docuseries, “Alexander: The Making of a God,” came out this year. Why are we so obsessed with Alexander the Great?

A. I have not seen the series. But as I write in the book: “Alexander the Great — the man, the myth, the hero, the conqueror, the ruler-turned-god, his accomplishments, and his images in various media — has held an enduring fascination since his death in 323 BCE. Alexander has been the subject of a myriad of ancient biographies; literary and artistic depictions of his legendary exploits in various languages and formats, including in stories of ‘The Alexander Romance,’ his transformation as Iskander in Persian miniature paintings, and as a Byzantine emperor in 14th century miniatures; in popular modern literature; and in a challenging mountain of modern scholarship. He has inspired a series of prints by Andy Warhol and a recent comparison with 21st century male hairstyles, and he has been used as a political pawn in the high-stakes politics of national identity in the Balkans.”

Q. How does your research help better understand the image and myths associated with Alexander?

A. In the vast scholarship devoted to Alexander the Great, it would seem there is little more to be said about him, yet this Roman marble portrait from Scythopolis has barely been considered as a part of the tapestry of Alexander’s historical legacy. The details about this portrait are fully published in this book for the first time and provide key information about an important ancient site — its monument landscape and cultic associations in the Roman period — and about Alexander as a mythical founder of Near Eastern cities and a role model for emperors in a vital period of Roman history. A reconstruction of the life, deeds, and physical appearance of Alexander of Great is hampered by the fact that his historical biographies were all written long after his death, with the oldest surviving account that of Diodorus (Bibliotheke 17), written 300 years after his death, and the most reliable account by Arrian (Anabasis) written during the second century CE, 500 years after Alexander’s lifetime. A kind of “romantic tapestry” about him was created, and mythologies of his life and deeds were embellished over the centuries.

Alexander became so popular in the Roman period in the East, especially in the second and third centuries CE, that cities of the Decapolis — in modern Israel, Jordan and Syria, including Scythopolis, or ancient Beth Shean, who prided themselves on their Greek heritage — could not resist claiming him as their founder. Various cities in other parts of the Roman Empire established ruler cults to the youthful hero-turned-god. At Beth Shean, it seems Alexander may have been worshipped alongside the main deity, Zeus, in the Roman temple on its acropolis, or the tel where this statue of which we only have the head) was set up.

The mythical life and deeds of Alexander were projected on the life of Jesus in early Christian theology, yet in the Late Roman/Early Byzantine period Alexander was regarded an anti-Christ who threatened Christian monotheistic beliefs. Thus, in the early Christian period in Scythopolis, his statue was mutilated and decapitated, and the demons that lived within the image of Alexander were exorcized. Though his memory lived on elsewhere in the Late Antique period, at Scythopolis Alexander was laid to rest in a watery cistern, to be brought back to “life” again with the discovery of this head in 1925 during the British Mandate. It was put on display in 20th century Palestine and eventually displayed in the IMJ as an ancient model in the modern state of Israel.

Q. Could you elaborate on your object-biography ap­proach in the study of the portrait of Alexander the Great?

A. It’s a methodology that arose from the field of anthropology and entails an examination of a work of art or cultural object in all aspects of its life cycle — its manufacturing technique, time and place, and its uses and interpretations throughout its history in changing sociocultural-political contexts, as well as in modern museum settings. Other art historians have used this approach to study “the lives and afterlives” of ancient sculpture but their interests have focused primarily on the use and history of specific works in their ancient past, for the most part neglecting their modern history, contemporary questions, and contexts. Presenting the full biography of ancient objects when it is possible to reconstruct the complete information, as is the case with this Alexander head, opens up interesting questions about uses, appropriation, and reception of works of art across the span of their “lives,” both in their ancient and post-ancient contexts.

So, in this book I discuss the entire “life” of this marble portrait of Alexander, from its manufacture and use, its discovery in 1925, and its modern history, including its transfers from the site of Beth Shean to the Palestine Museum of Antiquities in East Jerusalem, to the Palestine Archaeological Museum which became the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, then to the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, inaugurated in 1965, where the portrait head is today.

In the end, we think the book is a very suitable tribute to Alexander the Great.

Lens of time: School of Art plays part in Millennium Camera

By Mikayla Mace Kelley, University Communications

On Tumamoc Hill, hikers climb and descend daily. Animals skitter across the desert floor for years. Saguaros will grow and die over decades, sometimes centuries. But for a millennium, a photographic camera will stand sentinel over Tucson, prompting passersby to stop and think about what the future may hold.

Dubbed the Millennium Camera, the device was dreamed up by the experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats, a research associate at the University of Arizona College of Fine Arts (CFA).

(The Arizona Institute for Resilience helped fund the camera through the CFA Arts | Humanities | Resilience grants program, with support and guidance from School of Art Professor Ellen McMahon and Associate Professor Carissa DiCindio.)

Jonathan Keats

For a camera to last so long, it must be simple. Through a pin-sized hole in a thin sheet of 24-karat gold, light will slip into a small copper cylinder mounted atop a steel pole. Over 10 centuries, sunlight reflected from Tucson’s landscape will slowly fade a light-sensitive surface coated in many thin layers of rose madder, an oil paint pigment. When future humans open the camera in 1,000 years, they will see an extremely long exposure image of Tucson through all its future iterations.

Keats and a team of researchers from the Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill installed the camera next to a bench facing west over the Star Pass neighborhood. The bench invites a pause in the hike and the camera encourages hikers to imagine what the future will hold, Keats said.

“Most people have a pretty bleak outlook on what lies ahead,” he said. “It’s easy to imagine that people in 1,000 years could see a version of Tucson that is far worse than what we see today, but the fact that we can imagine it is not a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing, because if we can imagine that, then we can also imagine what else might happen, and therefore it might motivate us to take action to shape our future.”

Making a camera – and a city – that will last

Conventional cameras typically rely on quick chemical reactions (or more recently, digital technology) to capture an image. The problem is that future humans might not have the technical knowledge to process images in specific ways nor have the technology to do so.

What’s more, there is no conventional photographic process that is insensitive enough to be able to take a photograph over a millennium, Keats said, which is what led him to the idea of sun-faded pigment. That rose madder will fade at the correct rate is an educated guess on Keats’ part.

“One thousand years is a long time and there are so many reasons why this might not work,” Keats said. “The camera might not even be around in a millennium. There are forces of nature and decisions people make, whether administrative or criminal, that could result in the camera not lasting.”

If the camera does last, however, Keats outlines what we can assume the final image will look like: The landscape’s most steadfast features will appear sharpest (although the land is not completely stable, so there will be some inevitable blur to the image). Conversely, the most dynamic parts will be softest. Sudden changes will result in what will look like multiple images overlapped.

“Let’s take a really dramatic case where all the housing is removed 500 years in the future,” Keats said. “What will happen then is the mountains will be clear and sharp and opaque, and the housing will be ghostly. All change will be superimposed on one image that can be reconstructed layer by layer in terms of interpretation of the final image.”

But as much as Keats hopes to provide the future with a record of the past, he also wants to encourage people of today to plan for the future. Specifically, he thinks we should think through where populations might continue to sprawl on the landscape and reflect on that growth in relationship to the natural environment, something he said we need to be doing urgently.

“By no means is the camera making a statement about development – about how we should build the city or not going forward,” Keats said. “It is set there to invite us to ask questions and to enter into conversation and invite the perspective of future generations in the sense that they’re in our minds.”

Keats is adamant that the camera is not opened before 1,000 years.

“If we open in the interim, then it diminishes the imagining that we need to be doing,” he said.

A global perspective

To determine the best location for the camera – somewhere accessible to the community that looks out over a dynamic part of the city – Keats had many conversations with people with deep ties to the hill, including the Desert Laboratory’s director of operations, Clark Reddin, and community outreach assistant Robert Villa.

“Tumamoc Hill has a very deep relationship with the people of Tucson and the hill has a history to it that has this great vantage metaphorically and literally for looking across generations,” Keats said. “The petroglyphs on Tumamoc Hill, for example, are a record of people looking very carefully at their environment and leaving a trace of what they’ve seen. That is really a form of communication across generations. In the same spirit, the Millennium Camera provides a way to observe and interact.”   

Keats wants to install at least one more camera on Tumamoc Hill looking out in a different direction, perhaps eastward overlooking downtown Tucson. The two views will mirror each other, and reveal the dynamics of human interaction with the environment.

Contingent on funding, he has also identified the Santa Rita Experimental Range as another Millennium Camera site.

Experimental Range director Brett Blum and Keats identified a location “where the future is fascinatingly and deeply uncertain – an interface between the natural and human environments,” Keats said. As on Tumamoc Hill, it is also a place where the public can engage with the camera and think about the future.

He is also looking to install the cameras around the globe. In China, he is planning to put one in Chongqing, as well as in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. In May, he will install one in the Austrian Alps.

“This project depends on doing this in many places all over the world,” Keats said. “I hope this leads to a planetary process of reimagining planet Earth for future generations.”

Background on funding for camera

In 2022, when McMahon heard that Keats was working on Tumamaoc Hill as a research associate, she contacted him and learned that his Millennium camera project was not sufficiently funded to take it to completion.

Professor Ellen McMahon

Knowing that his project would benefit from stronger connections with campus as a whole, and the School of Art in particular, McMahon introduced Keats to DiCindio. Her research centers on art museum education, with a specific focus on museum-community partnerships and creating opportunities for dialogue and connection in art museum programming.

Meanwhile the Arizona Institute for Resilience (AIR) transferred funds to the College of Fine Arts to support five projects that demonstrate how the arts build resilience. McMahon created a call for proposals, which was shared with all faculty in the CFA, College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (CAPLA), College of Social & Behavioral Sciences (SBS) and the College of Humanities in late 2022.

AIR’s goal was to support scholarly and creative activities in the Arts and Humanities that advance the institute’s mission of supporting interdisciplinary groups, including with off-campus partners, to address resilience in our natural and human communities. Five projects were selected, and all were featured in the “Ways of Knowing, Ways of Being” exhibition at the Center for Creative Photography in October 2023. 

Keats and DiCindio proposed a project which funded the Millennium Camera, three public environmental art workshops and assessment of the impact of the workshops on people’s ecological awareness titled, The Nature of Change: Experiments in Societal Transformation Through Environmental Art on Tumamoc Hill. In addition, McMahon and Jennifer Fields, director of the Office of Societal Impact, received a planning grant from RII to create a proposal for an arts research and integration initiative. This funding supported the “Ways of Knowing, Ways of Being: Arts Research and Integration” exhibition, a related series of workshops guided by Keats at CCP, and assessment of all of the activities.

Associate Professor Carissa DiCindio

Jenna Green, a doctoral student in AVCE, and DiCindio conducted a study to better understand how participants continued to think about and engage with ideas from the workshops and Keats’ art — and the effect it had on their own experiences creating art. That involved McMahon, Green and DiCindio conducting focus groups with workshop participants from Keats’ CCP workshops and with the scientist/ artist collaborators who were part of the grant project. 

“It was especially rewarding to see how people engaged with the ideas from Jonathon’s work,” DiCindio said. “Their responses, through the art they created, their conversations in the focus groups, and in the reflective statements they wrote, demonstrated how deeply they considered concepts of local ecology and climate futures and the personal connections they made between these concepts and their own lives.”

Added DiCindio: “Jonathan’s project is a great example of how impactful art can be as part of research in ecological issues. I was especially struck by the ways that the participants engaged with the concepts of Jonathon’s work in the workshops and by continuing on in the study.

“I think the potential in this area is limitless,” DiCindio said. “We focused on workshop participants for this study, but it is also really wonderful that many people will engage with his art as public installations.”

The School of Art contributed reporting to this story.

Prof. Romano edits, co-authors ‘The Fate of Antiquities in the Nazi Era’

For University of Arizona Art History Professor Irene Bald Romano, a five-year journey with 15 other international scholars culminated last month when the authors saw their research published as a special online monograph, “The Fate of Antiquities in the Nazi Era.”

The publication — edited and co-authored by Romano — presents for the first time a comprehensive view of the fate of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern antiquities that changed hands during the Nazi period from 1933 to 1945 in Europe, the Middle East, the United States and elsewhere.

Professor Irene Romano

Romano wrote the preface, an extensive introduction and the lead article for the special 2023 issue of RIHA, the journal of the International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art.

The scholars’ project, previewed by The New York Times and other news outlets in 2022, was a collaboration with the Getty Research Institute and the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, an independent art-historical research institute in Munich.

“I hope this publication will become a standard reference on the subject of the fate of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern antiquities during the Nazi era,” Romano said, “with its extensive bibliographic and archival resources, as well as its methodologies, useful to other researchers, including individuals who are hoping to recover collections that belonged to family members who perished in the Holocaust.

“It also would be gratifying if this publication inspires students of art history, history, Classics, archival studies and other disciplines to become interested in provenance research, a growing field that has become indispensable to museums today and will remain so in the future.”

The idea for a publication was born at a meeting in Munich in October 2018. That’s when Romano and a group of German and American museum professionals, archivists and scholars — part of the Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) — realized the subject of the fate of Middle Eastern, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities during the Nazi period had not been sufficiently addressed in the large body of scholarly literature on fine arts.

“Although in the past decades research into Nazi-era looted art has been widespread and provenance research in this field has blossomed, the fate of antiquities has rarely been in the spotlight and is far less systematically studied,” Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin, wrote in the publication’s foreword.

“This volume makes a large contribution to filling this void. … It is valuable not just for readers with an interest in antiquities but also for scholars studying the art market and its mechanisms; for researchers exploring the networks and systems by which artworks were dispersed during the Nazi era and studying the history of restitution; and for art historians interested in the history of collecting and taste,” he wrote.

Parzinger went on to thank all the authors, especially Romano, “who not only put the topic up for discussion in 2018 but also persevered in the lengthy task of making this publication happen.”

“Last but not least, at a time when war is once more having a chilling effect on scholarly and scientific cooperation, this publication proves again the value of bringing experts together across disciplines and borders in the interest of scholarship and insight,” he said.

Romano talked more about the RIHA Journal special issue in an interview with the University of Arizona School of Art:

Q: How rewarding – and challenging – was the project?

Romano: I’m very pleased to see this research and publication project finally come to fruition, with the results accessible to scholars and the general public in this open-source, online format. … It was a challenging five-year-long journey for me with 15 other authors from various countries, each with their own work schedules and life issues, not to mention a pandemic that intervened, making visits to indispensable archives, libraries and museum collections difficult for many.

A challenge for anyone working on the Nazi period is that there are mountains of archival materials in many repositories in the U.S. and Europe, some of it duplicative, and only some it available online. In addition, in Nazi-period inventories and in various recent databases that have been created of works of art transferred during the Nazi period, archaeological objects are often not included or are cited in such a general way that they are not identifiable. I outline some of these challenges in the Introduction to the volume.

There was, however, a great deal of enthusiasm for getting this work published, and we had the unwavering support and expert advice of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich to bring it all about. A rewarding aspect of this was the collegiality of the authors, as well as the interest and assistance of a wider group of scholars who offered their expertise on specific issues. We have built a large research team and piqued the interest of some younger scholars who will move this research forward in the future.

Q. Could you sum up the conclusions gleaned from the broader study?

Romano: The first conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that broad conclusions are difficult. There are many individual histories of people, especially of collectors, dealers and Nazi officials, who played some role in the trade in antiquities in this period, as victims or active participants, and these are the most compelling aspects of these studies. We focus first, however, on the “lives” of objects. It is also hard to define broad conclusions because the Nazi period in various parts of Europe was not uniform vis-à-vis the collecting, interest in, confiscations and transfers of ancient objects.

The situation in Greece, for example, was quite different than that in Nazi-occupied France. In Greece there was no official Nazi policy of confiscating antiquities from museums, but we have documented cases of random looting, orchestrated thefts, and illicit excavations. The Jewish population in Greece was mostly in communities in northern Greece and they were not particularly collectors of ancient objects, as we can see from the forced inventories and confiscation of their household goods. In France, however, especially in Paris, there were major collections of wealthy Jews that were targeted for confiscation, and these included at least some antiquities.

Covers of the catalogs for the “Great German Art Exhibition”, Munich 1937 and Munich 1938.
University of Arizona Libraries, Tucson, Special Collections (photograph by Irene Romano)

For example, Alphonse Kann’s collection of 1,614 works of art, confiscated in October 1940 from his mansion in Saint-Germain-en-Laye outside Paris, comprised at least 150 ancient objects, including Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Middle Eastern, Etruscan and Byzantine objects (in order of numbers), for around 9 percent of Kann’s eclectic collection. In general, however, Egyptian artifacts rank a close second to Greek and Roman antiquities in the collecting practices and transfers during the Nazi period in Europe.

In this publication we have tried to be as comprehensive as possible, but our impression is that we have scratched into the surface of the broad subject and there is still much more to be done — details to be uncovered about individual objects, collections, dealers and collectors, as well as perpetrators of crimes, and more data to be mined from the increasing numbers of digitized databases, auction catalogs and dealer files. In addition, scholarly examination of archival documents in many repositories and provenance research in many museum collections remain to be conducted. These will certainly add to our picture of antiquities collecting and trade in the first half of the 20th century in Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., as well as the methods and nature of antiquities’ transfers during the Nazi period.

Q. How have you incorporated the project into your teaching here at School of Art?

Romano: My interest in art and antiquities during the Nazi period began as a result of my teaching here at the University of Arizona. In 2013 I created an upper division undergraduate and graduate Art History class called “Art as Plunder: The Spoils of War, the Formation of Collections, and Trade in Stolen Art” in which the Nazi period figures prominently.

Students are uniformly interested in this topic, some of whom are encountering it for the first time. Several Jewish students have come forward to share their own poignant family stories. This class and a seminar I have occasionally offered on provenance research have inspired some outstanding research papers and M.A. theses. One of these contributed critical information about a painting in the University of Arizona Museum of Art that changed hands during the Nazi period.

Q. What are you working on now?

Romano: Among the research projects I’m involved with is one stimulated by this publication on “The Fate of Antiquities in the Nazi Era.” It’s focused on the provenance of 11 Greek and Roman marble sculptures in the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva that were collected by Ludwig Pollak (1868-1943) — one of the most important connoisseurs of ancient classical art from the end of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. Pollak was from a Jewish family in Prague and trained in Vienna, but he spent most of his career in Rome. He was an archaeologist and dealer, as well curator and director of the Museo Barracco di Scultura Antica, and highly respected and well-connected in the art world in Rome and internationally.

As a Jew in Rome feeling the increasing pressure of anti-Semitic policies in the 1930s and 1940s, Ludwig Pollak began to disperse some of his personal collection, including by depositing for safekeeping eleven of his ancient sculptures in the Musée d’art et d’histoire in 1940. Pollak remained in Rome, and he, his wife and two children were rounded up with other Roman Jews on 16 October 1943, and shortly thereafter they were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The museum was later given or purchased these objects from Pollak’s heir. Although some of these sculptures in Geneva have been previously published, no one has examined them with reference to the collector and their provenance — their ancient context; how, when and where Pollak acquired them; and their modern transfers.

More about Prof. Romano

“The Fate of Antiquities in the Nazi Era”: Table of Contents

Forematter

  • Foreword: Gail Feigenbaum and Sandra van Ginhoven (Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles)
  • Foreword: Christian Fuhrmeister (Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich)
  • Foreword: Hermann Parzinger (Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin)
  • Preface: Irene Bald Romano (University of Arizona, Tucson; Guest Editor)

Introduction

  • “Antiquities in the Nazi Era: Contexts and Broader View,” Irene Bald Romano (University of Arizona, Tucson)

Articles

  • “Collecting Classical Antiquities among the Nazi Elite,” Irene Bald Romano (University of Arizona, Tucson)
  • “The Role of Antiquities between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany: Diplomatic Gifting, Legal and Illegal Trades,” Daria Brasca (Università degli Studi di Udine, Udine)
  • “Göring’s Collection of Antiquities at Carinhall,” Laura Puritani (Zentralarchiv, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
  • “Stolen and Returned: The Marble Statue of Philippe from Samos,” Alexandra Kankeleit (Freie Universität, Berlin)
  • “Export Regulations and the Role of Ancient Objects in the German List of Nationally Important Artworks,” Maria Obenaus (Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste, Magdeburg)
  • “The Annihilation of the German Numismatic Market during the Nazi Era, with Some Observations on the Countermeasures Adopted by Jewish Ancient Coin Dealers,” Emanuele Sbardella (Technische Universität, Berlin)
  • “The Patronage of Berlin’s Egyptian Museum by German-Jewish Press Tycoon Rudolf Mosse (1843–1920) and the Sequestration of His Art Collection during the Third Reich,” Thomas L. Gertzen (Freie Universität, Berlin) and Jana Helmbold-Doyé (Ägyptisches Museum – Georg Steindorff – Universität Leipzig)
  • “The Antiquities Trade during the German Occupation of France, 1940–1944,” Mattes Lammert (Technische Universität, Berlin)
  • “ ‘Unclaimed’ Artworks Entrusted to French Museums after World War II: The Case of Near Eastern Art and Antiquities,” Anne Dunn-Vaturi (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), François Bridey (Musée du Louvre, Paris; French Consulate, New York), and Gwenaëlle Fellinger (Musée du Louvre, Paris)
  • “The Fate of the Antiquities Collection of Izabela Działyńska (neé Czartoryska),” Inga Głuszek (Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń) and Michał Krueger (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań)

Object Case Studies

  • “A Case Study in Plunder and Restitution: Three Ancient Sculptures from the Lanckoroński Collection,” Victoria S. Reed (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
  • “A Goddess of the Night, a Roman Gem, and the Bachstitz Gallery,” Claire L. Lyons (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles)

Jeehey Kim’s ‘pioneering’ book on Korean photography is published

Nearly five years in the making, Jeehey Kim‘s new book is the first history of Korean photography in English.

Kim, an assistant professor of Art History at the University of Arizona School of Art, said she did most of the writing for “Photography and Korea” during the pandemic to go along with the book’s striking images.

Assistant Prof. Jeehey Kim

“As this is the first book on the history of Korean photography from the 19th century until now in the Western language, I hope it contributes to diversifying the field,” Kim said. “In addition, translation of the book into Korean, Japanese and Chinese is also underway to reach the broader public in Asia.”

The University of Chicago Press recently began distributing “Photography and Korea” for Reaktion Books, which published the 272-page book in the United Kingdom this summer. It features 41 color plates and 93 halftones.

Korean travelers brought photographic technology home from China in the late 19th century.

In her book, Kim presents multiple visions of Korea, including the divided peninsula, and the country as imagined through foreign eyes, key Korean artists and local photographers. Kim also explores studio and institutional practices during the Japanese colonial period, and the divergence of practices after the division of Korea.

“Kim draws on a selection of striking images to bring alive Korean politics, foreign relations and norms, making this both a comprehensive history of Korean photography and a worthy examination of Korean identity,” Publisher’s Weekly said.

Mina Kim, an assistant professor of Art History at the University of Alabama, called Jeehey Kim’s book “a unique contribution to our understanding of photography in Korea.”

“(She) shows how photography began in the region, who adopted and promoted it, and how the role of photography has evolved and diversified over periods since the 19th century,” Mina Kim continued, “as Korea developed through its colonial legacy, occupation and war, and rapid social, political and economic developments.”

Boyoung Chang, a Mellon assistant professor in History of Art and Architecture at Vanderbilt University, called Kim’s work “a pioneering study and a key resource for scholars of photography history, visual culture, Korean studies, and East Asian studies.”

“Not only does this book provide a framework for photo historians focusing on the region, but it also contributes to the decolonization and diversification of the history of photography,” Chang said.

Named an Early Career Scholar by the University of Arizona last spring, Kim is helping the Center for Creative Photography organize an exhibition on Korean contemporary photography in collaboration with the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. It will open on Nov. 17, followed by a one-day symposium on Nov. 18 and a talk with four Korean photographers on Nov. 19.

In 2022, Kim created a three-part symposia centered on the history and practice of photography in KoreaTaiwan  and Southeast Asia.

Kim received a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Art History from the City University of New York Graduate Center, and a B.A. in English Literature from Duksung Women’s University in Seoul, South Korea.

Since coming to the University of Arizona in 2019, Kim has established nine art history classes, one of which was created in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. She also taught at universities in New York, New Jersey, and Korea and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago.

• Reaktion books web page
• University of Chicago Press web page

School welcomes 4 new faculty members

From accomplished artists to cutting-edge educators, the University of Arizona School of Art welcomes two full-time faculty members and two visiting professors as the 2023-24 school year begins.

Yana Payusova has rejoined the school as an assistant professor of practice in First Year Experience, while Jenn Liv has been hired as an assistant professor in Illustration, Design & Animation.

Meanwhile, Kate Collins (visiting associate professor) and Shivani Bhalla (visiting assistant professor) have joined the school’s Art and Visual Culture Education program.

Here’s a closer look at the four new faculty members:

Yana Payusova

Yana Payusova: Received her MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder and worked full time in the Student Services area of the School of Art here before becoming an assistant professor of painting, area coordinator of painting and assistant chair of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Arlington three years ago. She has had recent solo exhibitions at Epperson Gallery in Crockett, California, and Conduit Gallery in Dallas. She is also in the permanent collection at the Crocker Art Museum and was recently commissioned to create work for the new Meow Wolf location in Grapevine, Texas. Website

Jenn Liv

Jenn Liv: Is an award-winning Chinese Canadian American illustrator who had been based in Toronto. Among her prestigious clients include The New York Times, Washington Post, Google, Microsoft, All Nippon Airways, AirBNB and NPR. Liv received her Bachelor of Design and Master of Design from OCAD University in Toronto and has taught at both OCAD and Sheridan College. Her personal research interests focus on investigating the intersections between gender studies, feminism, decolonization, and Asian diasporic identity. Jenn also has a keen interest in emerging technology, particularly in mixed reality, searching for new and innovative ways to expand upon her artistic practice through interdisciplinary methodologies. Website

Kate Collins

Kate Collins: Received her Ph.D. from Ohio State University and spent eight years as assistant and then tenured associate professor at Towson University before joining the Baltimore Museum of Art as director of Learning Communities in July 2022. As a community arts scholar/practitioner/leader, she has been published in the Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education, The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance and Public: A Journal of Imagining America. Her most recent project, YAAS (Youth Artists and Allies taking Action in Society) provides arts programing to resettled refugee youth in partnership with the BCCC Refugee Youth Project and Patterson High School in Baltimore. Bio

Shivani Bhalla

Shivani Bhalla is completing her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Dissertation title: “Visual Autoethnography: Exploring my Disability Experience Through Art Works, Written Narratives, and Conversations”). Prior to that, she received her MFA in Painting from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Vadodara in India. During her Ph.D. program, she has been teaching at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as well as SUNY New Paltz. Her research exploring art and disability in art education spaces has been published in Art Education and presented at a long list of conferences and professional gatherings, including the Art Education Research Institute (AERI) and National Alternative Education Association (NAEA).

The four professors recently reflected on joining the School of Art:

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN YOUR FIRST SEMESTER?

Payusova: I am looking forward to welcoming all the incoming BA and BFA art students in my First Year Experience classes. I love the energy of the new academic year and the usual excitement of seeing both familiar and new faces. I am also quite looking forward to studio time. In June I finished a big project (“The Real Unreal” exhibition in Grapevine, Texas) that monopolized all my time last year and then took a short break to develop new ideas. I am now fully rested and eager to get back to work. I am looking forward to experimenting and working on a few projects that have been sitting on the backburner.

“Kunstkamera,” by Yana Payusova, part of “The Real Unreal” exhibition

Liv: I’m looking forward to making new meaningful connections and sharing my knowledge about the illustration field with the students. My goals are to help demystify the inner workings of the industry and to help the students to develop their own visual stylistic identity.

Collins: I get to teach TWO community arts courses — one for grads and one for undergrads and both in my very first semester. What a dream! I’m just thrilled that the AVCE program has an emphasis on community and museums. Looking nationally at art education programs, it’s a unique focus and one of the things that made this opportunity so appealing. I’ve been cultivating a passion for community arts since I finished my MFA at Arizona State in 2002, so coming back to Arizona to teach and engage in community arts research is deeply gratifying. One of my initial goals is to become familiar and build relationships with the various community art organizations in Tucson so we can hopefully find some fruitful opportunities to collaborate.

Bhalla: To connect with students, learning from and growing with them. I see teaching as a form of collaboration, and classrooms as community spaces to support, nurture and help each other grow.

CAN YOU RELATE ONE OF YOUR MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCES?

Liv: What I find the most rewarding about being an educator is seeing all the wonderful work that comes out of my classes. It brings me great joy to see students demonstrate growth and development under my mentorship and guidance.  A recent experience as an artist that has been rewarding for me was finally being accepted into the American Illustration 42 Book this year. This is an achievement I’ve been working toward for nearly a decade now, therefore having this recognition means a lot to me.

Payusova: There are so many rewarding experiences in both teaching and doing my creative research that it’s difficult to think of one. The most rewarding experience for me always in teaching is seeing the students’ “light” go on, so to speak. I love helping the students discover their voice, the direction, their passion. It never gets old. In my creative research, I just finished a large sculptural installation for Meow Wolf (which was the big projects I was referring to earlier). The experience has been the most rewarding and challenging (in all the right ways).

Kate Collins has directed the YAAAS! (Youth Artists and Allies taking Action in Society) at Towson University.

Collins: Building and leading an interdisciplinary arts graduate program over the course of eight years at Towson University in Maryland was incredibly rewarding. During that time though, I was able to design and lead a program called YAAAS (Youth Artists and Allies taking Action in Society) and out of that has evolved a highly impactful pedagogical framework that simultaneously supports learning and wellbeing. Creating YAAAS and the research and publications that have followed have made it a truly a transformative experience that I hope to reinvent here in Tucson. The project embraced collaborative artmaking as a vehicle to build a dynamic partnership between working educators and newly resettled refugee youth in high school. It was beautiful in that it evolved into something that was mutually beneficial and valued by all. Partnering teachers expanded their global competency and gained confidence with employing arts-based strategies to support the growing population of English learners in their classrooms in a manner that is culturally sustaining, and trauma informed. Meanwhile our young partners gained a sense of agency and belonging, built critical relationships, expanded their facility with English, and through artmaking, enjoyed a critical outlet for self-expression that isn’t always possible when you don’t speak the language. It’s incredibly rewarding work that I can’t wait to dive into here in Tucson.

Bhalla: While I taught a disability studies course to preservice art education teachers, it was most rewarding when I realized students were already applying the theory that we were studying to the real-life classroom’s settings.  They had become self-critical and reflective of how they were perceiving disability and responding to students with disabilities.

WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO STUDENTS? 

Payusova: Get off social media! No, really. It’s a great tool for networking and showing your work but it can also feel very intimidating to see so much good work. It can feel as if everything has already been done by someone else. It’s important to take breaks from hearing other people’s voices out there so that you can hear your own. Be patient and kind with yourself. It takes time to develop both techniques and ideas. And finally enjoy this time at the university. It’s a fantastic experience to be a part of this great institution; to learn and grow with faculty and students from all over the country and the world.

Jenn Liv, “All Nippon Airways,” Advertising illustration series

Liv: My advice for students learning illustration is to identify what are the values that are most important to you as a person. This will be fundamental in helping you to develop your own visual identity as an artist. Illustration is a challenging career that rewards persistence over artistic talent alone. It is more important to strive for continuous growth and self-improvement rather than perfection.

Collins: Get to know Tucson. Go hiking and get out in nature. Got to the local farmer’s markets. See the local art shows and support the local artists. Find every cool mural in the city. Tucson as a city has SO much to offer. Go be a part of it! Bring a friend, bring a group, or go solo. Having been a college student for ELEVEN years of my life, I realize how insular we can be on campuses, often barely ever leaving the immediate vicinity. I know now I missed out by not spending more time getting to know the spaces and places and people around me. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I’d work much harder to get out there, especially here in the Southwest when there’s so much beauty and richness all around us.

Bhalla: Be yourself, and value your experiences. Grad school can be tough, but the fact the fact that you made it here is a proof that you are wonderful and your experiences matter. So never doubt that!

As honors flow, Macias hopes to expand border discourse

For years, Alejandro Macias shied away from using his experience growing up on the Texas-Mexico border as the subject of his figure paintings. “I felt everyone around me knew this experience,” he said, “so why speak on it?”

But during his first residency at the Vermont Studio Center in 2016, Macias witnessed other young contemporary artists drawing inspiration from their life journeys. “This gave me the confidence and validation to speak on the bicultural experience, assimilation, acculturation, and use sociopolitical subject matter to exercise my voice,” he said.

Now, the University of Arizona School of Art assistant professor is being honored for embracing that voice.

Not only did Macias land a prestigious three-month CALA Alliance residency this summer for Latinx artists, but he also received the Lehmann Emerging Artist Award from the Phoenix Art Museum and saw his “Man on Fire” painting acquired by the University of Arizona Museum of Art for its permanent collection.

Alex Macias, School of Art Assistant Professor

Macias will focus his residency work on the U.S.-Mexico border, including systems of repression, oppression, erasure, disappearances and stories of migration.

“It’s content that I’ve been wanting to investigate using multimedia approaches, such as painting, drawing, printmaking and video,” said Macias, who plans to interview people across the borderlands, collaborate with local organizations and research statistical data.

“I’d like to explore this content with sincerity, and I’m hoping that my work can do these experiences justice and expand the U.S.-Mexico border discourse,” added Macias, who said the project will exhibit in yet-to-be-determined spaces in Phoenix and New York.

Macias is sharing the Lehmann Emerging Artist Award with Yaritza Flores Bustos, who migrated from Mexico to Phoenix at a young age. The two will be part of a joint exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum, starting July 19, along with Fronterizx Collective, the Scult Artist Award recipient.

“These artists each explore identity in distinct ways but through a shared lens of life on the borderlands, defined by varying migration patterns and transnational identity,” said Christian Ramírez, the museum’s assistant curator of contemporary and community art initiatives.

For Macias, “I couldn’t be more excited to exhibit within such an incredible museum and alongside such esteemed and accomplished artists,” he said.

Macias is also excited about the residency program at the CALA Alliance (Celebración Artística de las Américas), which provides artists with housing, studio space, a generous stipend and future exhibition opportunities. The group’s executive director and curator is Alana Hernandez.

“I truly respect Alana’s mission on making this opportunity a reality for so many emerging and established Latinx artists,” Macias said. “Her goal to uplift Arizona Latinx artists is beyond admirable because southern Arizona is a unique experience within the United States socio-political climate. … I feel it’s a place where many artists are tucked away and go unnoticed, due to the magnitude of the East Coast and West Coast art scenes. Alana is uncovering and contributing to the contemporary Latinx art canon in a regional, national and international way. I’m happy to even be a small fragment of CALA Alliance’s history.”

“Nepal en la Frente” (“Father as a Child)” / 2022 Alex Macias painting

Born and raised in Brownsville, Texas, Macias received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Brownsville in 2008 and a Master of Fine Arts in 2-D Studio Art from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2012.

“Brownsville is full of rich history and is a safe haven for many Mexican migrants and families struggling to survive,” Macias said. “It was an atmosphere and experience that I felt truly enveloped by, especially as a child, because I traversed between Brownsville and Matamoros in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Brownsville has an approximately 94% Hispanic population, and I’m second-generation Mexican American myself.”

One of Macias’ mentors was Carlos G. Gomez, his painting professor at UT Brownsville and a friend who migrated to the U.S. from Mexico City as a young child. Gomez died from brain cancer in early 2016, and Macias said, “the culmination of his teachings and guidance still affect my artistic practice today.”

Macias was a lecturer at UT Brownsville, which later became the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, before accepting a position at University of Arizona School of Art in 2019 as a painting and drawing assistant professor.

“We spent two years actively looking for a faculty member who could make positive contributions to our Painting program while also speaking to the unique experiences of the region in which we reside,” School of Art Director Colin Blakely said. “When we came in contact with Alex, we knew we had found exactly what we were looking for. He brings an important perspective and voice to our programs, and it’s exciting to watch the well-deserved success his work has garnered.”

In addition to Vermont, Macias also participated in residencies at Chateau d’Orquevaux in France, The Studios at MASS MoCA and the Wassaic Project in New York. He’s been a part of recent group exhibitions at the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas at Austin, Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, Amarillo (Texas) Museum of Art, Carlsbad (N.M.) Museum of Art, Las Cruces (N.M.) Museum of Art and Arizona State University Art Museum.

Macias held solo exhibitions at Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts in Lubbock, Texas; Presa House Gallery in San Antonio and Tucson Museum of Art, and was featured in the West Issue #156 of New American Paintings, juried by Lauren R. O’Connell, curator of contemporary art at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

“Man on Fire” / 2022 Alex Macias painting

Just recently, the University of Arizona Museum of Art acquired Macias’ 2022 “Man on Fire” painting — a work inspired by his first visit to the UAMA gallery in 2019 and seeing renowned artist Luis Jimenez’s sculpture with the same title.

Jimenez, who died in a studio accident in 2006, was a central figure in the Chicano art movement, known for his small drawings and prints to monumental sculptural works. Jimenez’s “Man on Fire” work, Macias said, speaks on the Spanish colonization of the Aztec empire and the torture of its ruler, Cuauhtémoc, the Buddhist monk who set himself ablaze to protest the Vietnam War, Thich Quang Duc, as well as Chicano identities along the Southwest.

“I felt inspired to … pay homage to such an iconic Chicano figure,” Macias said. “In this case, I am critiquing my own American assimilation through an image of myself burning. The serape Mexican textile, which reinforces my ethnic and cultural background, burns away in the shape of a flame over my head. … As a side note, I am also honoring Presa House Gallery within my T-shirt, a San Antonio art space that centralizes the voices of Latinx artists within central and south Texas.”

School of Art alumna Olivia Miller (BFA ’05), new director of UAMA, said she was “struck by Alex’s approach. … He was inspired by (Jimenez’s) sculpture, but he created a painting unique to his aesthetic and his personal experience.”

“While it’s exciting to see how Alex’s painting connects to existing works in the collection in provocative ways, it’s also important for the museum to support the perspectives of contemporary Latinx artists in our region,” Miller said.

Those words mean a lot, Macias said.

“I’m happy to hear that UAMA is investing in Latinx voices and continuing the legacy of Luis Jimenez through his influence,” he said. “I’m humbled and honored to be included in a such an important collection.”

UArizona honors Jeehey Kim with Early Career Scholar Award

Art History Assistant Professor Jeehey Kim, whose groundbreaking research in Asian photography has earned her international recognition, has been named a 2023 Early Career Scholar Award recipient by the University of Arizona.

Kim joins five other assistant professors being honored with the award, which recognizes outstanding early career faculty who are at the forefront of their disciplines and make valued contributions to the teaching, creative activity and service priorities.

Assistant Prof. Jeehey Kim

“Dr. Kim’s research, teaching and service intersect in important ways, and she has contributed to defining the University of Arizona as a center for the research and teaching of photography,” the School of Art’s nominating letter said, “complementing the international reputation of the Center for Creative Photography and the School of Art’s top-ranked studio art program in Photography, Video and Imaging.”

Kim earned her Ph.D. in Art History from the City University of New York Graduate Center in 2015. She taught at several universities in New York, New Jersey and Korea, then held a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for the Art of East Asia at the University of Chicago before coming to the University of Arizona in 2019.

Dr. Kim’s research and publications encompass the history of photography, visual culture and film studies in East Asia and Southeast Asia. They touch on issues of colonialism, images of “the other,” identity politics and international relations in the 19th to 21st centuries.

As a scholar of East Asian visual culture, Dr. Kim’s interest in the politics of memory has led to an exploration through the medium of photography of the ethics of representation and the ways in which colonial legacies have structured trans-Asian modernity. Her recent research on vernacular photographic practices, documentary films, and visual culture in relation to the Cold War and gender politics in East Asia, has been published in international journals.

“In summing up this incredible list of accomplishments (for someone in their third year at the university!), the word that comes to my mind — besides sheer industriousness — is generosity,” wrote Professor Larry Busbea, who chairs the school’s Art History program.

“There is something in Dr. Kim’s work and general demeanor,” he continued, “that gives a clear indication that she is as concerned about the success of our program, of our students, affiliated institutions like the Center (for Creative Photography), as well as an international network of photo professionals, as she about that of her own research program.”

Since coming to the University of Arizona, Kim has developed nine courses in Art History at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, challenging students with content that incorporates her deep knowledge of the history of photography and her specialized subject of Asian photography.

In response to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, in Fall 2020 Dr. Kim designed an innovative and timely 400/500 class, “History of Photography: Black Lives Matter,” examining images by Black photographers and about Black lives since the mid-19th century.

She has also created two other advanced courses that reflect on postcolonialism through contemporary art in East Asia and on global indigenous photography, “demonstrating her versatility and ability to engage with cutting-edge intellectual topics in the classroom,” according to her faculty colleagues — Martina M. Shenal, James Cook, Irene Bald Romano and Carissa DiCindio — who nominated Kim for the early career award along with Busbea.

“Singapore Sikh Police Officer, 1941,” part of Carl Mydans collection at the CCP, which was part of the Nov. 18, 2022, virtual symposium organized by Dr. Kim.

Kim’s first book, “Imagining Korea through Photography,” London: Reaktion Books/Chicago: University of Chicago Press,” is forthcoming in June 2023. Her second, “Photography and Death: Funerary Photo-Portraiture in East Asia,” Leiden: Brill, is currently under review. Her article on “Contagious disease and visual media in Colonial Korea” will appear in a forthcoming 2023 book to be published by the Hong Kong University Press.

In addition, Kim has organized eight scholarly panels or symposia and presented more than 10 papers between 2019 and 2022. On Nov. 18, 2022, she organized a day-long, virtual symposium on “Photography and Southeast Asia: History and Practice,” co-sponsored by the School of Art, Arizona Arts and the Center for Creative Photography. The event included presentations by colleagues in CCP, from other institutions in the U.S., as well as in Canada, Australia, Sweden, Singapore, and the Philippines.

Earlier in November 2022 she was the moderator of a panel jointly organized by Dartmouth College and Harvard University on “Korean Art since the 1980s: Dynamism and Expansion.” She was a discussant on a College Art Association panel in Chicago in February 2020 on “The Cold War in the North-South Axis: Asian Art Beyond the U.S.-Soviet Dichotomy.” And, in March 2019 she gave an invited lecture at the University of Chicago on “Commemorating the Dead through Photography in East Asia.”

“The many ways Dr. Kim shares her research with scholarly and public audiences are impressive,” her nominating letter said. “She has built bridges and networks across disciplines, within local communities, and across international boundaries, significantly increasing the impact of her work and bringing major attention to the University of Arizona’s School of Art.”

Kim also has been an active contributor to improving equity, diversity and inclusion at all levels through her affiliation with the Faculty of Color in the School of Art and with Faculty of Color in the College of Fine Arts.

She received an M.A. of Philosophy in Art History from the City University of New York Graduate Center in 2010, and a B.A. in English Literature from Duksung Women’s University in Seoul, South Korea.

“I really appreciate all the support from my program, the School of Art and the College of Fine Arts,” Kim said in a note to faculty. “This is the award for all of us.”

2023 UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA EARLY CAREER SCHOLAR AWARD RECIPIENTS

  • Alex Craig, Assistant Professor, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering
  • Andrew Curley, Assistant Professor, School of Geography, Development and Environment, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Yuanyuan (Kay) He, Assistant Professor, Fred Fox School of Music, College of Fine Arts
  • Anna Josephson, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Jeehey Kim, Assistant Professor, School of Art, College of Fine Arts
  • Andrew Paek, Assistant Professor, Molecular & Cellular Biology, College of Science

Prof Saracino receives fellowship from prestigious Huntington Library

Jennifer Saracino, an assistant professor of Art History at the University of Arizona School of Art, has received a Barbara Thom postdoctoral fellowship from the prestigious Huntington Library near Los Angeles for the 2023-24 school year.

The fellowship will allow Saracino to revise her dissertation on the Uppsala Map of Mexico-Tenochtitlan into her first book manuscript. Uppsala is the earliest known map of Mexico City, painted by indigenous Nahua artists after the Spanish Conquest (c. 1540).

Jennifer Saracino, assistant professor, School of Art

“I’m so honored that they’ve recognized the significance of my project,” Saracino said. “The Huntington Library has always been an institution of which I’m dreamed of becoming a fellow. The strengths of their collections include the Hispanic Americas, Maps & Manuscripts and the history of science. These are all avid research interests of mine, so it is an ideal setting in which to carry out my research and manuscript revision.

“Not to mention, it’s absolutely stunning,” she said. “I’m really drawn to the fact that it has a research library, art museum and botanical gardens. It’s the perfect fit for an interdisciplinary art historian like myself.”

Saracino grew up in Western Pennsylvania but received her B.A. in Art History from the University of Southern California, not that far from the Huntington Library.

“I’m very excited to go back to my old stomping grounds and spend some time by the coast,” Saracino said. “Much of my Filipino family also lives in Los Angeles, so I’m excited to be able to spend more time with them.”

The Huntington complex, in San Marino, Caliornia, is one of the world’s top independent research libraries, with over 11 million items from the 11th to the 21st centuries. The Thom fellowships, lasting nine to 12 months, include a $50,000 stipend and are intended to support non-tenured faculty who are revising their dissertation for publication as their first monograph.

In the past, Saracino said art historical scholarship regarded the Uppsala Map of Mexico-Tenochtitlan as having a pronounced European influence compared to other Indigenous-made manuscripts of the same time period.

“I felt that a deeper analysis of the map was missing because of this,” she said. “These artists were extraordinary cultural brokers between the local European and Indigenous populations. They were fluent not only in multiple spoken and written languages but also visual languages.

Jennifer Saracino at the Newberry Library in Chicago

“As the daughter of an immigrant and someone with my own multicultural identity, I felt that these artists were owed more recognition in the scholarship as the extraordinary individuals that they were,” Saracino said. “I wanted to explore what it meant to hold multiple identities and how that is reflected in their representation of the dynamically changing world in which they were living.”

Last fall, Saracino presented a paper, “The Ayer Map of Teotihuacan as Embodied Action & Performance,” after being invited to the 21st Kenneth Nebenzahl, Jr. Lectures in the History of Cartography at the Newberry Library in Chicago.

She also enjoyed participating in an interdisciplinary exhibition that saw University of Arizona professors across departments imagine how a Charles Dickens tale, “David Copperfield,” might find a homeland in the Sonoran Borderlands. From digital installation to performance, sonic experiments to film, cartography to micro-publication, the exhibition explored questions about the relationship between arts and public-engagement, literature and everyday places, and authors and readers.

“Art History is important because it allows us all to learn about different people, cultures, values and worldviews through the things they made,” Saracino said.

After earning her undergrad degree from USC, she received her master’s and Ph.D. in Art History from Tulane University in New Orleans. She was a junior fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies at Harvard’s Dumbarton Oaks Research Library & Collection in Washington, D.C., then taught at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, before coming to the University of Arizona in August 2021.

Saracino co-organized a panel, “Ecocritical Art Histories of Indigenous Latin America” on Feb. 18 at the College Art Association (CAA) conference in New York City.

“Art History has broadened my worldview and afforded me the opportunity and privilege to travel the world and meet so many different people,” she said. “I think that to learn about others and their artistic and cultural traditions instills in you a greater empathy and appreciation for difference and diversity.”

Alshaibi earns praise from Regents, has solo show in UAE

Just weeks after Sama Alshaibi was formally inducted as a Regents Professor, a mid-career solo exhibition of the Iraqi-born artist began in the United Arab Emirates.

The Arizona Board of Regents honored the School of Art professor during the University of Arizona’s Outstanding Faculty Awards Ceremony on Feb. 15 at Crowder Hall.

Regents Professor Sama Alshaibi

In large part to Alshaibi’s contributions, the school’s Photography, Video and Imaging program has grown substantially and is ranked No. 3 in the U.S. News & World Report’s list of best photography schools.

“We are in awe of your impact,” said John Milbauer, associate dean for Faculty Affairs for the College of Fine Arts, who introduced Alshaibi at the ceremony.

Tell it to the River,” a mid-career survey of Alshaibi’s work, started Feb. 27 at the Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah, UAE. The solo exhibition, which runs through June 30, 2023, brings together significant parts of her practice over the last two decades.

The exhibition debuts two commissions, one of them inaugurating Alshaibi’s 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship and the other marking the closing chapter of an eight-year long photographic series. The two new projects mark the return of Alshaibi to her homeland of southern Iraq following a 40-year displacement.

Alshaibi’s work “explores the notion of aftermath — the fragmentation and dispossession that violates the individual and a community following the destruction of their social, natural and built environments,” Milbauer told the audience on Feb. 15.

In her photographs and videos, Alshaibi often uses her own body as both subject and medium.

“Your work is exemplary, as your professional accolades demonstrate: an extensive list of fellowships, exhibitions, publications and awards on both national and international levels,” Milbauer said.

Among those accolades, in addition to the Guggenheim Fellowship, are an exhibition at the 2014 Venice Biennale, a monograph published by Aperture (“Sand Rushes In”), a 2014 Fulbright research fellowship to the West Bank city of Ramallah and a 2019 Artpace International Artist Residency in San Antonio.

Regent Larry Edward Penley formally inducted Alshaibi as a Regents Professor on Feb. 15.

Earlier Provost Liesel Folks, senior vice president for Academic Affairs, told the audience that the Regents Professor is “the highest honor the university system can bestow on a faculty member.” The honor is “reserved for faculty scholars with exceptional ability who have achieved national and international distinction while maintaining a robust portfolio of student-facing work,” Folks said.

Alshaibi joined the School of Art in 2006. In her field, she is among the most sought-after presenters, having given nearly 100 presentations, and among the most frequently cited visual artists, with more than 200 citations. Her work has also been featured in recent exhibitions such as “Women in the Face of History and Migration(s)” and “Meaning in Art.”

Four other University of Arizona faculty members were formally named 2022 Regents Professors: Jean-Luc Brédas (Chemistry and Biochemistry), Juanita L. Merchant (Gastroenterology and Hepatology), David Pietz (History) and Donata Vercelli (Cellular and Molecular Medicine).

Prof Taylor helps launch archive sharing stories of detained immigrants

A group of University of Arizona faculty members and their community partners have launched a public archive containing the stories of asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants incarcerated in Arizona.

The DETAINED: Voices from the Migrant Incarceration System project is a collaborative effort involving UArizona, the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project and Salvavision. The Florence Project provides free legal and social services to individuals in immigration detention in Arizona. Salvavision is a Tucson-based organization that provides aid and support to asylum-seekers and migrants displaced in the remote town of Sasabe, in Sonora, Mexico.

Professor David Taylor

The DETAINED archive is available online.

The archive grew out of School of Art Professor David Taylor’s decades-long focus on the nature and changing circumstances of the borderlands – an interest he developed after moving from the East Coast and thinking about the tropes that make up society’s conception of Western history. A photographer, Taylor said any story he told would not be that of a person who personally crossed the border or someone seeking asylum or work. Instead, he strives to let those people tell their own stories.

“My goal in all of this is to ensure that people’s experiences do not disappear. These are people who don’t get to write history. They don’t usually have their say,” Taylor said.

Taylor worked alongside professor of English Susan Briante, author and translator Francisco Cantú, School of Information graduate student Aems EmswilerCollege of Law alumnus David Blanco, former UArizona associate professor Anita Huizar Hernández and staff from the Florence Project to interview a dozen former detainees of the detention centers in Florence and Eloy. Those interviews were recorded, transcribed and translated for the archive. The team also collected images of artwork and memorabilia provided by detainees.

Cantú, who works alongside Briante as co-coordinator of the Southwest Field Studies in Writing Program for the UArizona Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, said detention facilities are the most underreported and least understood facet of border enforcement. A general lack of public awareness creates a need to tell the stories of directly impacted individuals, Cantú said.

“These are places that are very rarely infiltrated and seen, and it’s very hard for stories to come out of these spaces,” he said. “We want people to realize this is happening right now on the scale that it is. The archive has a real pulse, a heartbeat.”

A Digital Borderlands Grant of nearly $60,000 was awarded for the establishment of the DETAINED archive. The three-year, $750,000 Digital Borderlands project was funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. University of Arizona Libraries disburses those funds to projects that “support the integration of library services into data-intensive, humanities-focused research on the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands.”

“The Mellon grant has been really enormous just to get this project going, and our partnership with the Florence Project is fundamental to this work,” Briante said. “Now, we are committed to seeing it continue.”

I fell down some stairs

I fell down some stairs

Lyle Emmerson Jr.
What Do You See?

What Do You See?

Utvista Galiante
Half Off Special

Half Off Special

Wilbur Dallas Fremont
Tailgate Party

Tailgate Party

Roger Masterson
Floral Arrangement

Floral Arrangement

Janessa Southerland