We are pleased to announce that Kristen Eckrich, second year master’s student of art history, is the recipient of the 2013 Patricia Moore Segnan Award. This fund was created by Dr. Romeo A. Segnan in honor of his late wife, Patricia Segnan, to support art or art history students studying abroad. Ms. Eckrich’s thesis focuses on one specific work by contemporary photographer Lorna Simpson, titled 9 Props. The work is comprised of nine photographic panels, each of which features a single glass element that Simpson gleaned from nine portraits by Harlem Renaissance photographer James Van Der Zee. Simpson worked with the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle to recreate these elements in glass before photographing them. This project is significant as 9 Props has largely been ignored by scholarship, and moreover, the literature often discusses Simpson’s œuvre as a whole rather than focusing on specific artworks in depth. Such generalization occludes the individual importance of any one artwork, ignoring key distinctions that exist from one to the next. In order to rectify this generalization, a key strategy of Ms. Eckrich’s thesis is to narrowly focus her inquiry.
Ms. Eckrich will utilize the funds from the Patricia Segnan award to travel to Paris, France to attend the first European retrospective of Lorna Simpson’s work, which will be held at the Jeu de Paume. From May to September 2013, the renowned museum of contemporary art, in collaboration with Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, will exhibit about 150 of Simpson’s works, including 9 Props. Ms. Eckrich is eagerly anticipating the show, stating: “This retrospective will provide unique opportunities not afforded elsewhere, the simplest and most critical for my project, is being able to examine 9 Props personally. Viewing art firsthand, of course, is vital to art historians, as details such as texture, color, and even size are lost in reproductions of the work. Furthermore, the Jeu de Paume retrospective provides the prospect of situating 9 Props within the thirty-year context of Simpson’s œuvre, an important component of my research. Simpson’s early documentary photographs, never before displayed, will be exhibited, allowing the possibility to trace the artistic shift from documentary to conceptual photography. Also, I plan to include in my thesis a response to what will be the most recent scholarship of her work, from curator Joan Simon and others, that will appear in the exhibition catalogue.”
Congratulations, Ms. Eckrich! We look forward to hearing about your research upon its completion.