23rd Annual Robyn Rafferty Mathias Student Research Conference


The Art History Program was well represented—and, according to a recent announcement, even received awards and honors—at the 23rd Annual Robyn Rafferty Mathias Student Research Conference. Several students from our MA program (Kari Allegretto, Rachael Pullin, and J. Rachel Gustafson) gave their papers during a lively session, “Art, Violence, and Nationalism,” chaired by Dr. Juliet Bellow.

Kari Allegretto received “Honorable Mention” for her paper “On Joseph and Family Ties: Seeing Themes of Family and Patriarchy in the Borgherini Joseph Series.” Ms. Allegretto argued that the Borgherini Joseph Series, a group of paintings that adorned the walls of a Renaissance bedroom, should be read as a complete work, rather than analyzed as individual paintings. Further, she illustrated how the sequence is unified by the themes of family and patriarchy.

Rachael Pullin’s paper “Contested Boundaries: Rashid Rana and the Body Politic in South Asia” was awarded “Best Oral Presentation in the Humanities by a Graduate Student.” Ms. Pullin’s paper considered how nationalist rhetoric has structured the way Pakistani artist, Rashid Rana, has been received by the art world internationally. Using a photographic self-portrait by the artist as a basis for her analysis, she examined Rana’s deconstruction of national and art-historical discourse as it bears on his individual identity as an artist from Pakistan.  

J. Rachel Gustafson’s paper, “Running Alongside Them: Shomei Tomatsu’s Nagasaki: Wristwatch and Representation of a Nation in Postwar Japan” examined a photograph by the Japanese photographer, Shomei Tomatsu, as a commentary on the atomic bomb in the postwar period. Ms. Gustafson’s vivid visual analysis considered the multiple valences of this iconic photo in the realms of devastation, remembrance, nostalgia, and modernity as they relate to artistic nationalism.

In addition to the Art History graduate students, Arts Management grad, Camille Kashaka, also presented in this panel. Her paper “Healing through Exposure: The Potential Benefits of Dramatherapy in East African Refugee Camps” proposed that a union of the practices of drama and therapy could heal deep community conflicts in the refugee camps. By implementing dramatherapy in these camps, Ms. Kashaka suggests, the safe space of theater would facilitate a productive forum for communication.

And Art History undergrad Annie Baldauf delivered her paper “Contrasting Images of Eve and Mary” in the “Images Actions and Sounds” panel, that considered the impact of social attitudes and norms in the northern European renaissance on artistic representations of the Christian paragons Eve and Mary. The first woman, of course, represented as the bad woman, and the second was venerated as a model of feminine virtue.

Congratulations to the presenters on their hard work and achievements. We’d like to extend our thanks to the audience members for their engaging questions and comments after each presentation. And thank you, also, to Robyn Rafferty Mathias for her generous sponsorship that makes this conference possible.

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