Student Work

Undergraduate Research is self-directed or -designed academic work by an individual student or team of students that addresses a research question with the expectation of a scholarly or creative product intended for publication or presentation on or off campus. Students undertake this work with a faculty mentor for at least one academic term or intensive summer, through which students learn and assume their roles as researchers and creators.

Recent undergraduate research in Art History has included:

Curating Community
by Hannah Wiepke

Society often regards those with disabilities to be less capable of having creative capacities and social relationships. Open Hearts Art Center (OHAC) a non-profit organization in Asheville, North Carolina seeks to change that perception and empower individuals with intellectual disabilities to create works of art. Established in 2005, OHAC serves forty-five artists in the Western North Carolina region. OHAC is a place where artistic expression blends with habilitative care. The artists of OHAC work primarily in a group setting, which not only aids in the development of social skills, but also helps to support an artistic community. Artists attend classes ranging from painting, music, dance, songwriting, and sculpture. They also have the option to sell their work in the community through a variety of venues and in turn receive a paycheck. Through analysis of internship experience, scholarly interviews, and interviews with OHAC artists, this inquiry discusses the challenges that come with creating an exhibition centered around the disabled community, which is typically marginalized by society. The exhibition is informed by scholarship in the areas of both art history and disability studies as well as other contemporary exhibitions of art created by intellectually disabled artists. By presenting the artists of OHAC as members of an artistic community rather than patients attending a daytime medical facility, the way in which the viewer interprets the exhibition is drastically different. At the core of the exhibition is the representation of these individuals as artists to engender a more inclusive notion of our contemporary definition of what it means to be an artist.

The Socio-Political Climate and the Evolution of Techniques in War Photography: Are Photographic Reproductions Reliable Historic Documents?
by Dorothe Santistevan

Focusing on the American Civil War (1861-1865), World War II (1939-1945), and the Vietnam War (1955-1975), this paper will investigate the ways in which war photography has evolved not only in regards to technical advances, but also in response to the ever changing socio-political climate of the country. Since, in many cases, specific resources about selected photographs are sparse, any conclusions drawn heavily depend on analysis of the images within the context of the socio-political situation. By using primary source material (including access to quality photographic reproductions and historical documents and film) as well as scholarly research into the history of photography as it is situated in times of war, this study will draw conclusions through analysis of iconic photographs from each time period. The inherent reliability of photographs in conjunction with their function in times of war is a connection that is rarely drawn in scholarly research, although the two ideas are drawn separately. This paper joins the two ideas, pulling together the relationship between war, each artist’s truth, the public’s perception of their truth, and how that collective cultural interpretation can move people. Through staging of dead soldiers to create an emotionally heightened image, manipulating the German people into supporting a despotic leader, or negating support of the Vietnam War within the United States, these photographs of conflict have had the power to sway the public into believing and supporting a cause, thereby making photographic reproduction the most influential form of accessible visual culture.

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