CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Three University of Illinois faculty in the College of Fine and Applied Arts have been awarded prestigious academic fellowships in their fields.
Anne Burkus-Chasson and Prita Meier, both art history professors in the School of Art and Design, have been appointed senior fellows at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., for 2017-18. The fellowships are for full-time research in the history, theory and criticism of the visual arts. Fellows have access to the art collections, library and image collections of the National Gallery of Art, as well as the Library of Congress and other research libraries and collections in the Washington area.
Burkus-Chasson, who is also a professor of East Asian languages and cultures, studies painting and woodblock-printed books of the late Ming dynasty. Her project, “Engaging Artifice: Chen Hongshou (1598/99-1652) and the Illustrated Book,” rethinks how the innovative Chinese painter Chen Hongshou responded to and shaped the print revolution of his time. Chen, noted for his inclination to distort the human figure, yet more profoundly unsettled the perception of his pictures by juxtaposing incongruent genres and manners of drawing. She argues that his interaction with printmakers, whose framed narratives were distinguished by radical artifice, created the conditions for his pictorial assemblies, which reconceived what an image was and how it was viewed.
Meier specializes in African and Indian Ocean visual culture. Her project, “The Surface of Things: A History of Photography from the Swahili Coast, 1860 to the Present,” will be the first major transregional study of Swahili coast popular vernacular photography. Based on her fieldwork and archival research in Kenya and Tanzania, it focuses on albums, cartes de visites, postcards and personal familial keepsakes from public and private archives in Africa, Europe and North America. She foregrounds the aesthetic and cultural politics of photography, revealing how photos accrued value as they circulated from one context to another, or from one port to another. In representing an alternate genealogy of the beginnings of photography in the Global South, she challenges readers to ask larger questions about what it means to do global, comparative art history.
Architecture professor Paul Hardin Kapp has been awarded the 2017 James Marston Fitch Mid-Career Fellowship, named for the historic preservation educator and pioneer. The James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation awards one or two fellowships each year to midcareer professionals who have the academic background, professional experience and an established reputation in historic preservation, architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, environmental planning, architectural history or the decorative arts.
Kapp’s fellowship will support his latest book project, “Heritage and the Great Depression: How Historic Preservation Created the Old South,” which will be published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2019. It will be the first book that tells the surprising story of how Natchez, Mississippi, was transformed from a backwater river town into a cultural tourism destination during the 1930s, and how Natchez continues to shape our shared understanding of the Old South and its complicated legacy. Through extensive documentary and archival research, such as drawings made by architects of the New Deal’s Historic American Building Survey, Kapp engages with what the study of historic preservation tells us about the cultural and economic history and heritage of the Old South.