MA Students to Present at American University/George Washington University Art History Symposium



AU/GW 2018 Symposium audience, photo courtesy Hannah Southern

The presentation of new research plays an integral role in the field of art history. Symposiums allow art historians to network, exchange ideas, and receive valuable feedback. Participating in graduate level symposiums offers emerging art historians the opportunity to practice their public speaking in a constructive environment. American University’s MA program provides two opportunities for graduate research presentations each school year: the college-wide Mathais Student Research Conference; and the intercollegiate American University and George Washington University Art History Symposium. This year’s AU/GW symposium will be hosted by GW’s Art History program on Saturday, October 5th.


Rotating between AU and GW campuses, the annual AU/GW symposium takes place in the fall semester. Four students from each university present new research to their peers in a day-long exchange. Second year MA students Sarah Froonjian, Mike Quituisaca, Alaina Hendrickson, and Carolyn Russo were chosen to represent American University in this year’s symposium. The chosen students work tirelessly with the AU art history department professors to perfect their presentations before the event. 


Sarah Froonjian, photo courtesy of Sarah Froonjian

Froojian and Quituisaca, busy preparing for their presentations on Saturday, generously took the time to chat about their experience thus far. Froonjian conveyed her gratitude for the opportunity to present: “It’s a great platform to share my research with a larger audience and get feedback,” she said. Quituisaca agreed: “I was honored to be chosen! When I attended last year, I saw the quality of the papers being presented by my peers and it set the standard for my writing. I knew then that I wanted to be up there the following year.”

Froonjian and Quituisaca’s research embodies the range of art historical study presented at the symposium. Froonjian, an Italian Renaissance specialist, will present her talk “St. Catherine as Preacher in Masolino’s Castiglione Chapel.” “My research focuses on the unusual depiction of St. Catherine of Alexandria as a preacher, and uses the frescos to explore the relationship between female saints and male patrons in the early Renaissance.” 



Mike Quituisaca presenting at the 2019 Mathais Student Research Conference. Photo courtesy of Dr. Nika Elder

On the opposite end of the art history spectrum, Quituisaca, an Americanist, will give his talkIn the Shadow of Superman: Roger Shimomura and Japanese-American Redress.” “I’m presenting on Roger Shimomura’s Diary: December 12, 1941 and analyze his use of Superman. I argue that Shimomura explicitly evokes Superman’s iconography to challenge the idea of American magnanimity and justice that is attached with it. I connect the painting and its message to the social-history of its moment, with issues of Japanese-American redress making its way through congress in the 1980’s and the premiere of Superman: The Movie touting Superman as an icon for a pre-Vietnam war and Watergate American government that can do no wrong.”

This learning experience gave Froonjian and Quituisaca new skills that will benefit their future careers. “It’s been great public speaking practice,” said Froonjian. “Plus, I’ve definitely learned the value of constructive criticism and its importance for growing as an art historian.” Quituisaca says his writing skills have improved with “A LOT OF EDITING. Professor Elder [Quituisaca’s thesis advisor] has been great throughout this whole process. We have been emailing back and forth over the last few weeks with draft after draft. I feel the paper is finally ready to be presented.”

Thank you to Sarah, Mike, and the AU and GW professors who make the symposium possible. Congratulations and good luck to our AU and GW participants!


AU/GW Symposium, October 5th, 2019

Smith Hall of Art, Rm 414 (GW campus)


Schedule of Events:

9:30-10am: Breakfast and welcome

10-10:30am: Sarah Froonjian, AU, St. Catherine of Alexandria as Preacher in Masolino’s Castiglione Chapel

10:30-11am: Alaina Hendrickson, AU, The Pajong Bearer: Colonialism and Social Hierarchy in Aelbert Cuyp’s VOC Senior Merchant

11-11:15am: Break

11:15-11:45:Caroline Willauer, GWU, The Sublime in Winslow Homer’s Maine Seascape

11:45-12:15pm: Megan Culler, GWU, Conceptions of the Navagraha in South Asia: Functions and Iconography in Astrological Worship through a Set of Twenty Paintings

12:30-1:30pm: Lunch

1:30-2:00pm: Carolyn Russo, AU, Stieglitz’s Equivalents: Landscape for the Aviation Age

2:00-2:30: Corrine Helman, GWU, Méret Oppenheim: From Object to Creator 

2:30-2:45: Break

2:45-3:15: Mike Quituisaca, AU, In the Shadow of Superman: Roger Shimomura and Japanese-American Redress

3:15-3:45: Vyta Baselice, GWU, The Architecture of Cruel Optimism 

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