2020 Letter from the Chair

Thu, 02/06/2020

Greetings from Cornell’s Department of History of Art and Visual Studies!  We are delighted to share with our alumni news of initiatives, events and programs over the past year.

In Fall 2020 we will welcome a new faulty member, Kelly Presutti, in modern Western art.  We chose Kelly last spring from a very strong field of 101 applicants for the position.  Her degree is from MIT in 2017, with a dissertation titled “Terroir after the Terror: Landscape and Representation in Nineteeth-Century France.”  This year she is finishing her second year as Mellon Postdoc at Columbia University before she joins us in the fall.  We look forward to filling out our modern offerings with Kelly onboard.

We continue to revise old courses and introduce new ones.  The Introductory 1100, now in its fourth year, has a new theme this time—Ornament.  Faculty and museum curators all participated, looking at ornament through times and places as a window onto culture and artistic production.  Another window is language:  Jolene Rickard participated in new course on Cayuga Language and Culture, a unique offering at Cornell.  A revised curatorial practicum with the Johnson Museum, is being taught this spring by Kaja McGowan.  My print seminar this spring, with the participation of curator Andy Weislogel, meets in the museum Study Gallery and is based on prints in the collection.  We are excited about continued collaboration with the Johnson Museum under the leadership of the new museum director, Jessica Martinez, who visited our department and met with faculty and graduate students in January at the start of classes.

We added a new prize for graduating seniors at Commencement last spring, using funds donated by alumni, which we designated the Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award, presented to Alessandra Basler for outstanding leadership and commitment to the field.  We also awarded the long-standing Frances Sampson Fine Arts Prize to Ryan Stommel, for academic excellence, commitment, and achievement.

Our bi-annual Career Symposium will take place in Fall 2020.  We invite several undergraduate alumni who have taken various career paths to make short presentations to current students and field questions from them.

Faculty have been active not only with publications, but also teaching and advising, and have won numerous awards.  Their work advising students, both formally and informally, has been recognized with two awards – Jolene Rickard by the Graduate and Professional Study Assembly (GPSA), and Ananda Cohen-Aponte with the College of Arts and Sciences Paul Award for advising.  Please see Faculty Updates for many other book awards and accomplishments.

In addition to the Findley History of Art Lecture and Visual Culture Colloquium we have added a new lecture series, The Pulse of Art History, to bring distinguished visiting scholars to the Cornell campus to give a presentation on current art history issues and to interact with faculty and students.  Our first two this academic year are Aden Kumler (University of Chicago) and Julia Bryan-Wilson (Berkeley) in March.

As always, we acknowledge our staff, Vladimir Mcic, Department Manager and Graduate Field Assistant, and Sarah Blitz, Undergraduate/Graduate Coordinator.


Claudia Lazzaro