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2014 Art History Majors

Meghan Gieseker

“Mapping Identity: Analyzing the ‘Body Worlds’ of Opicinus de Canistris”

 Maps are subjective and ideological representations of the world that construct a specific worldview. The 14th century medieval monk, Opicinus de Canistris, presents an extraordinary and compelling example of how maps can frame identity.  At stake in his conceptualization of identity was an understanding of his relationship with Christ and his place in the world, which were defined by complex connections to the divine truth and what this truth meant for humanity at large. Opicinus created experimental maps termed “body-worlds” because of their blending of human bodies and physical geography. These maps raise issues of race, gender, sexuality, and spirituality, which in turn affected Opicinus’ perception of himself and the world at large.  


Tianyi Han

“Self-Expression, Identity and Antiquity: What did the Literati Say and What did They Mean?”

 Literati painting in China was claimed by the literati to be a unique genre whose main purpose was expressing the self. However, such a notion, for the literati art critics in the Song-Yuan transition, had to do with more than just aesthetics.  By analyzing one of the works by the monk painter Fa Chang, Returning Sail off Distant Shore, this paper will show how non-literati painting could also fulfill the “exclusive” literati criterion of self-expression. Yet Fa Chang was dismissed by the literati critics as “lacking ancient method”, which has more to do with the painter’s identity as non-literati than it has to do with his painting style. The literati’s emphasis on an exclusive identity, as argued in this paper, was part of a power negotiation that occurred when their elite social status was challenged in a time of social change.


Lizzie Hineman

“Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp Chapel: Creating a Sacred Space in a Secular World”

In an effort to regain relevancy with the rational, post-World War II audience, the Catholic Church, aided by the Sacred Art Movement, began commissioning modern artists to create ecclesiastical art and architecture.  In 1950 the modern architect Le Corbusier was commissioned to create what is one of the most revered churches of the twentieth century, Notre-Dame-du-Haut at Ronchamp.  Although Le Corbusier identified himself as an atheist, he had developed a strong sense of the sacred through his earlier travels to Constantinople, Mount Athos and the Parthenon.  He borrows from these spaces to invent a modern idiom and a new way to create a spiritual space in a secular world.


Madeleine Lee

“Capturing Wonder: Art and Geology from a Scientific and Aesthetic Perspective”

A sense of wonder is what drew geologists and Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, nineteenth century landscape artist, Thomas Moran, and contemporary sculptor Steven Siegel into their passion to learn about the earth. As did geologists, these three artists explored hard questions about where the earth comes from, where it is going, and how God fits into the picture. Working similarly to scientists, they fully immersed themselves in intensive study of the processes of the earth and projected their understanding in the form of drawings, paintings, or sculptures that combined aesthetics and scientific inquiry with the goal of understanding and preserving our earth.


Linyao Kiki Liu 

“Cultural Blinders: Chinese and Western Critics on the Work of Cai Guonqiang”

 I have found that, when Western critics and Chinese critics discuss the same American-based Chinese artists and artworks, each uses a very different rhetoric and lens through which they approach the subject.  For instance, Chinese critics, often question the validity of these artists’ works by arguing whether or not they are using Chinese cultural symbolism to create visually exotic artworks designed to attract Western audiences. On the other hand, Western critics have a strong obsession with the biographies of these Chinese-born, yet American-based artists. Westerners tend to over emphasize the impact of the artists’ biographies on their works.  I use the artist Cai Guoquiang as a case study to reflect on how rhetoric and framing have resulted in different “Cais” among Chinese versus Western critics and how cultural blinders have constrained their critical judgments.


Sunny Strader 

“When Weird Goes Mainstream: Surrealism and Pop Culture”

 This paper explores what happens when an avant-garde art movement becomes accessible to a broader audience. Advertising firms and commercial photographers have borrowed Surrealist motifs and imagery since the 1920s, and references to Surrealism’s visual tropes are still made today. Using Surrealist and fashion photographer Man Ray as a vehicle, along with Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” I explain the implications of bringing a radical art movement to the mainstream.