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Letter from the Chair - 2023/24

Karl in Hildesheim

Warmest greetings to our history of art community: current students, faculty, and staff; graduate and undergraduate alumni; emeritus colleagues; and friends and supporters. In our third annual department newsletter, I am excited to share some of what we have been up to over the past year. It has been a time of great transition for the department, and we are thrilled to share where we are heading. Now in my third year as chair, I could not be more proud of the work that my colleagues and our students are doing as we work to move our field and our department in new directions.


The greatest changes this year were to our faculty. After successful searches over the winter of 2023, we were thrilled to welcome FOUR (!) new members of our faculty. Though they have only been on campus for a few months, our new colleagues are already bringing their energy, expertise, and new ideas to our students and department. Further on in the newsletter you’ll have a chance to read about all four of the new faculty members, but I will briefly introduce them here. Sampada Aranke joins the department as Associate Professor of History of Art and Comparative Studies; she studies modern and contemporary Black American art, visual culture, performance, and curatorial studies. Ujaan Ghosh joins the department as Assistant Professor of History of Art, focusing on architecture, religion, and visual culture in 19th and 20th century South Asia. Benjamin Jones joins the department as a Provost’s Fellow, and will be Assistant Professor beginning in Autumn 2025; he studies 19th and 20th century African Diaspora and African American Art, with current research projects focusing on the role of pedagogy in Black art. Finally, Carlos Rivas joins our department as Assistant Professor of History of Art and Ethnic Studies, researching and teaching Latin American and Latinx Art and Visual Culture from the 17th century to the present, with a particular focus on Central America and its diasporas. It has been a joy to welcome them to our department this year, to see courses being taught in new areas, and to work with them on new departmental initiatives.


The other significant change to our faculty this year was the retirement of Distinguished University Professor Julia Andrews. Prof. Andrews taught at Ohio State for 36 years and retired as one of the most distinguished faculty members at the entire university. Acknowledged as one of the world’s leading scholars of modern and contemporary Chinese art, Prof. Andrews published key texts in the field, trained a vast cohort of graduate students who now work in the field, and curated significant exhibitions at institutions such as the Guggenheim Museum and the Wexner Center for the Arts. While we hope to hire a new faculty member in the area of Chinese Art in the coming years, it will be impossible to replace Prof. Andrews, who has been instrumental to so many of the department’s successes over the past three decades. Thank you for your many contributions, Judy! All of us wish you the best as you transition away from full-time teaching and continue your research and writing.


Our graduate students have had another banner year for their research. Later in the newsletter you can read about their publications and conference presentations this year, but I want to highlight just a few of their accomplishments in 2023. Alanna Radlo-Dzur defended her PhD this spring and has begun a postdoctoral position at Princeton University in Indigenous and Native

North American Studies. Two of our PhD students, Yifan Li and Lauren Caskey, received OSU’s most prestigious dissertation fellowship, the Presidential, in order to bring their degrees to completion. Christy Sher won a year-long FLAS fellowship to support her research and language study. Asia Adomanis was a predoctoral summer fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, working on her dissertation on midcentury Asian American artists. And April Riddle was recently granted a full scholarship to attend the CIHA (Comite International d’Histoire de l’Art) Conference in Lyon in June 2024.


Our graduate students also contributed to another major departmental initiative in 2023: the planning and realization of a major show of the artist Sarah Rosalena at the Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, which opened in September. The show was curated by Prof. Kris Paulsen along with a group of graduate students from the departments of History of Art, Art, and Arts Administration, Education, and Policy. Students helped design the exhibition’s scope and texts and wrote for its catalogue, all as part of a curatorial seminar led by Prof. Paulsen. You can read more about the show later in the newsletter, but we hope that it becomes a model for the continued collaboration between our department and the Columbus Museum of Art, and a way for our graduate students to gain valuable professional experience working on museum exhibitions.


We have continued to put an emphasis in our department on both graduate and undergraduate student travel, focusing departmental resources on primary research. Funded primarily by the incredibly generous scholarship founded in honor of Cathleen Murnane, nearly every one of our graduate students received departmental funding this year for their research, traveling all over the US as well as to Japan, China, Hong Kong, Ghana, England, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, and Puerto Rico. One of our undergraduate majors, Madelyn Thompson, won an undergraduate research grant from the Honors and Scholars program to fund a trip over spring break to Austria and Hungary in order to complete research for her thesis project (advised by Visiting Assistant Professor Ravinder Binning) on the Esztergom Staurotheke. And, as you can read about further in the newsletter, our senior art history majors once again traveled to New York City over fall break, this time with Prof. Andrew Shelton, to view museum collections and meet departmental alumni.


I’ve included a few photos from my own research travel this year; I traveled to Germany in May and to England in October for research on my new book project. It was great to spend time with my research objects, and also see monuments that I have long taught in classes but never visited in person.


As I said at the beginning of my letter, this is a time of transition and change for our department, but it has also been a time of change for the broader university and arts community; in the past year both the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Columbus Museum of Art hired new directors, and we await the arrival of Ohio State’s new president and the appointment of a new provost. We will also be hosting a team of external reviewers this spring as we continue to seek new paths forward for our goal of becoming an international leader in building a more just, intersectional, and diverse field. I am eager for feedback and ideas from all

of you as we move forward. What do you want to see our department do in the coming years? Where should we be heading? As always, I love to hear from you, so stop by Pomerene Hall, drop me an email, or send me a letter. Here’s to another great year in 2024.


Karl Whittington

Associate Professor and Department Chair