We are pleased to announce that Dr. Ana Fernández Miranda Texidor has been awarded the 2023 IDSVA Ted Coons Dissertation Prize, for the dissertation: ‘Vegetal Soul’: Plant Ontology, The Amazonian Yachag And The Artist In Trance, directed by Dr. Dejan Lukic. The award was conferred at the IDSVA Commencement ceremony in Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte, on January 14, 2023.
Ana Fernández (aka Miranda Texidor) was born in 1963 and raised in Quito, Ecuador. She graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute with a BFA in Painting and received an MFA in Painting and Drawing from California College of the Arts. She holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Art Theory from Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts IDSVA. In her work and research Ana explores the possibilities of art practice as connected to speculative fabulations about plant ontology, spirituality of the Earth, and the artist in trance. She is a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award in 2005, was an Artist in Residence at Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale New York, in 2004, and received an Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Award in 2022. She has been Studio Arts faculty at Universidad Central- Ecuador, Universidad de Cuenca-Ecuador, California College of the Arts-San Francisco, and Foothill College-San Mateo, California. She has conducted various art-based social practice collaborations in Ecuador and California. She is part of The Plant Contingent, a collective of artist-philosophers who explore plant ontology and the notion of becoming-with-plants. Her work has been shown throughout Latin America, Europe, and the US.
In her dissertation, Dr. Fernández argues that plants constitute a “world” on their own terms, informed by a kind of protolanguage and haptic non-vocalized communications. In this world, it is the shaman or yachag, as this figure is called in the Andes, who can translate and communicate this language from the house of plants to his community. In relation to this figure, she puts forward the notion of the artist-in-trance, a hybrid of Walter Benjamin’s “ecstatic trance” and Nietzsche’s tragic artist, as the one who develops awareness of her moment and can shed light for others to see it. To understand this continuum, Dr. Fernandez proposes the figure of “metonymic contiguity,” in Viveiros de Castro’s parlance, to address the connectedness enacted by plants, the yachag, and the artist-in-trance.
The being of plants or plants as Being, understood as Michael Marder’s vegetal democracy, with its rare generosity and energetic renewal, can only be understood if an interconnectedness between species is set in motion. Through multiple examples derived from contemporary art, anthropology, and the study of indigenous cultural traditions, Dr. Fernandez effectively demonstrates how the plant, the yachag and the artist operate as the enablers of such a paradigmatic shift in the coming community.
About the Ted Coons Dissertation Prize
The Ted Coons Dissertation Prize is awarded to one IDSVA graduate each year. The Prize was established in 2015 to acknowledge outstanding IDSVA dissertations – dissertations that distinguish themselves for their original philosophical approach, scholarly quality, and contribution to new knowledge. It was made possible thanks to a generous donation by Dr. Ted Coons, Professor of Psychology, Cognition & Perception at the Center for Neural Science at New York University. Professor Ted Coons is a pioneer in the field of neuroscience and a major contributor to early studies in neuroaesthetics.
You can view a full list of our dissertation abstracts and prize winners here.
The IDSVA PhD in Visual Arts: Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Art Theory is a non-studio PhD for artists and creative thinkers. With no campus, IDSVA is a truly nomadic institution, existing everywhere our students and faculty are. The program fuses interactive online education with intensive global residencies.
Apply to IDSVA’s pioneering PhD program by April 3, 2023 for September 2023.