Newsletter Spring 2018

Editors' Message

by Katherine Melcher & Silvia Ruzanka

Welcome to the Spring 2018 IDSVA newsletter!

January was an exciting time for the IDSVA community.  Not only did it mark the winter New York Residency for cohorts ’16 and ’17, but we celebrated our newly minted PhD’s at the 2018 IDSVA Commencement Ceremony at the Morgan Library in New York City.

Dr. Curlee Holton, Executive Director of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at University of Maryland, College Park, gave the commencement speech and received an honorary degree from IDSVA.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree was awarded to Dr. Mary Anne Davis for her dissertation, The Ambiguous Object: Toward an Econo-Aesthetics through a History of Porcelain (director, Professor Simonetta Moro), and to Dr. Maria S. LaBarge for her dissertation: Recuperating Mimesis: Jackson Pollock and the Indigenous American Spirit, (director, Professor Christopher Yates). The Masters of Philosophy degree recipients for this academic year were Susan Johnson and Dawn Tritch.

The New York Residency is a special moment where the cohorts gather together to share our passion for the arts and philosophy. We get to hold conversations face to face, fortifying ourselves for our semester studies from different points on the globe. We immerse ourselves in the art world for a moment and begin to make connections that will lead us to new insights in our academic endeavors. I (Silvia) for one was inspired by the Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959–1989 show at the MoMA. The exhibition reminded me that women were always already a core component of the digital art movement, and the importance of re-asserting those who have been written out of the standard history. This was clearly also an important element of the exhibition at the New Museum, Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, which highlighted the multiplicity of voices surrounding the issue of gender. 

This newsletter not only highlights student experiences at the New York residency; it also shares IDSVA students’ philosophical reflections on art across the United States. Whether it is the Ted Coons Prize awardee, Mary Anne Davis, reflecting on the relationship between her art and the #metoo movement, Zoma Wallace presenting about Theaster Gates’ work at the Nasher Prize Graduate Symposium in Dallas, or Lisa Williamson and Jill O’Connor asking troubled questions about race relations through gallery reviews, IDSVA students are making connections between life, thought, and art – and back again.