HAAARCH!!! 2015

HAAARCH!!! is a yearly showcase of undergraduate research, creative work, and achievement. This forum provides students the opportunity to exhibit, present and promote their research and experiential learning activities.

HAAARCH!!! 2015 will take place in the Cloister and University Art Gallery of the Frick Fine Arts Building on March 23, from 4-6 pm.

HAAARCH!!! 2015

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    Sarah Horton

    Sarah Horton is a senior majoring in History of Art and Architecture, with a minor in Studio Arts and a certificate in Asian Studies. Her primary area of academic interest is modern and contemporary East Asian art, but she appreciates art from an eclectic range of locations and time periods. She spent two semesters as an intern in the Decorative Arts and Design Department at the Carnegie Museum of Art, and she is currently working in the Preservation Department of the University of Pittsburgh Library System on the Consol Energy Mine Map Preservation Project. In her free time, she enjoys collecting vintage cameras, attending musical performances, and improving her Korean. Sarah also has a love of travel that grew from her time studying abroad in London, and she hopes to travel to East Asia and continue her study of art in the future. 

    At HAAARCH 2015, she will be presenting on a paper entitled "Methodical Suffering: Chinese Buddhism as a Tool in Zhang Huan's Early Performance Art.

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    "The University Studio: Oiticica, Rhodislandia, and Peripheral Strategies in Art Making," by Grace Kelly

    The students hovered around the small man, his Portuguese accent lilting as he showed them the space they would be making art in. The room was divided into cubicles with flossy white cloth and a mellow orange light that pulsated, creating an embryonic space. Outside, the cold, damp winds of November breezed through the coastal town of Kingston, Rhode Island. Helio Oiticica, a native of Brazil, was out of his element, and not just because of the weather. It was 1971 and he was creating a collaborative exhibition with art students at the University of Rhode Island, then a backwater state school where potato farmers and Italian immigrants sent their kids. The exhibition was called Rhodislandia:contact, an exhibition that faded with time, its location and incomplete documentation diminishing its historical remembrance.

    Oiticica is now a household name in the world of art history. Recently rediscovered, much has been written on his works, often concerning color and kinetics. He is defined as a radical who was forced to leave Brazil to make his environmental art, and his greatest works are often cited as being Tropicalia and Parangoles—-flashy, Brazil-centric pieces that conjure up images of sweaty favelas and of mangoes rotting in the steaming air of Rio. These flashy works have overshadowed Rhodislandia, which has never more than briefly mentioned. It is thus evident that color, kinetics, and the usual context in which Oiticica is discussed do not do justice to Rhodislandia. Indeed, Rhodislandia begs a different set of questions and a different approach.

     Oiticica was, first and foremost, an artist in the time of radical art-making and art-pedagogy. Amidst his contemporaries were Guy Debord, John Latham, and Fluxus. He spent time in London, Paris and New York, places where radical ideas were being created and exchanged, much of them attempting to de-stabilize conventional art institutions such as the museum and the gallery. The ‘spectacle’, as defined by Debord, had seeped into the very walls of the museum that had for centuries been filled with an anesthetic, Kantian, autonomous-art.

     Oiticica was not oblivious to this dialectic, and became engaged in combatting the spectacle. A unique response to this was manifested in his University activities, particularly Rhodislandia. I will examine Rhodislandia in the context of Oiticica’s interactions in the United States and London, and specifically his work with the university as a place of art-making, pedagogy and anti-institutionalization. To do this, I will use photographs and Oiticica’s own essays and reflections on his other university works to contextualize this particular piece. Oiticica’s goals at URI were not to simply make art-for-arts-sake or to incarnate theories of color in physical form. Rather, I will argue, he was attempting to break art free of the spectacle by engaging students in a peripheral setting.

    For more information about Grace, click here

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    Grace Kelly

    Grace is graduating senior majoring in History of Art and Architecture with a minor in Spanish and a certificate in Latin American Studies.

    Last summer, the University Honor’s College awarded her an off-campus research award, which Grace used to travel to Houston and Austin, Texas. There, she investigated an exhibition, Rhodislandia, by Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica, a project done under the guidance of Professor Jennifer Josten.

    She is an aspiring journalist and has written for The Pitt News for the past four years. She especially enjoys writing about art, culture, food and travel and her long term goal is to become a narrative journalist. 

    For HAAARCH 2015, Grace will be presenting a paper entitled "The University Studio: Oiticica, Rhodislandia, and Peripheral Strategies in Art Making."

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    "Creation and Contemplation: The Flight 93 Memorial and The National September 11 Museum," by Alice Gallagher

    On September 11, 2001 at 8:42 am, United Flight 93 departed from Newark Liberty International Airport heading to San Francisco International Airport. Forty-six minutes into the flight, the route was redirected toward Washington D.C. as the four hijackers on board overtook the cockpit. The thirty-three passengers and seven crew members valiantly attempted to regain control of the plane before the aircraft crashed into an open field in rural Somerset County, Pennsylvania at 10:03 am. All of the individuals on board perished, but their efforts to divert the plane’s target, the U.S. Capitol, avoided hundreds of possible fatalities.

    Memorials attempt to catalog the past to keep the spirit and the identity of the victims relevant as time progresses and the memory of their legacy fades. To honor the forty victims of United Flight 93, a memorial was erected in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and a room was dedicated in the 9/11 Museum in New York City. The curators and architects were challenged to honor the victims, while emphasizing their courageous actions. The modest Flight 93 Memorial subtly highlights the natural landscape of the crash site in an attempt to commemorate, reflect, and confront the emotions elicited from the story of the passengers and crew members. The room dedicated to United Flight 93 within the vast 9/11 Museum utilizes multiple immersive media, such as artifacts, photographs, and audio recordings to recreate the heroism, anguish, and chaos of the tragic event.

    My research analyzes the physical designs, the artifacts, the rhetoric, as well as personal interviews with curators, park rangers, and visitors to examine the relationship between the memorial production and the audience consumption. The Flight 93 Memorial and the 9/11 Museum are national sites dedicated to interpreting the story of United Flight 93, but the locations of the two sites and the presentation of the materials evoke drastically different responses from viewers. The secluded onsite memorial in Shanksville serves as a pensive homage to the event, while commemorating the life of each victim. In New York City, the offsite room attempts to place the crash within the larger context of the historic event through high-tech resources and factual information. The comparison of the two unique sites, my personal observations, and the audiences’ perceptions will reveal the curators’ and architects’ interpretations and objectives in commemorating United Flight 93 and the reaction these sites elicit from visitors. 

    For more information about Alice, go here

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    Alice Gallagher

    Alice Gallagher is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, pursuing a major in History of Art & Architecture and Communications with minor in French. She is originally from Princeton, New Jersey, but has had the opportunity to live in larger cities, such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Paris. She is aspiring towards a Public Relations career in a museum or gallery, a desire which began after interning in the press room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2013. In the 2015 fall semester, Alice served as a Teaching Assistant for Professor Gretchen Bender’s Introduction to World Art. While working on a project with the National Flight 93 Memorial, under the supervision of Dr. Mary Margaret Kerr, Professor and Chair of Administrative and Policy Studies, and Professor of Psychiatry, she developed an interest in memorial design and the interaction of visitors within these sites. This initial project inspired her senior thesis, which she will research further when she travels to New York City as a member of Office of Undergraduate Research Field Studies program. In her spare time, Alice enjoys painting, running, traveling, and unsuccessful culinary attempts. 

    Alice will give a presentation on her senior thesis at HAAARCH 2015, entitled "Creation and Contemplation: The Flight 93 Memorial and The National September 11 Museum." 

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    "The Politics of Display: Transnational Convergence in the Chinese Nationality Room," by Karen Lue

    The Chinese Nationality Room (CNR) in the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning was one of the first nationality rooms to be built, dedicated in October 1939. These rooms were meant to represent minority groups in Pittsburgh, celebrating their cultures through the creation of a classroom that would embody aspects of each heritage through furniture and décor. However, the CNR presents a special case, as its planning and erection—organized by a committee of Chinese students, alumni, and community members—occurred in the midst of the Chinese Exclusion Acts and racial discrimination in the U.S., and rising nationalist sentiment and political turbulence in China, providing a complex, transnational context for its creation.

    This exhibition will demonstrate that the CNR stands as a memorial to not only Chinese cultural achievement, but also to Chinese-U.S. relations in the 1920s and 30s. Using materials from the CNR Archives, photographs, and other visual and textual sources contemporary to the Room’s creation, this exhibition will construct a narrative revealing the Room’s cross-cultural history of Chinese exclusion in the U.S., political turbulence in China, and their impacts on the Chinese population—particularly Chinese students—in the U.S. These students constituted an important subdivision of the Chinese immigrant population, representing the Chinese government’s efforts to modernize and acting as facilitators between American and Chinese culture. Seen within its historical context, the CNR can be viewed as an intervention to combat racial discrimination by endorsing China’s cultural and political significance, as well as an illustration of acculturation and cross-cultural acceptance. The exposition of the Room cannot be dissociated from the discrimination faced by the Chinese population and its efforts to mediate between two cultures. The Chinese Nationality Room is a testament beyond a celebration of Chinese culture, signifying a transnational history of the Chinese in America.

    For more information about Karen, go here

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    Karen Lue

    Currently a senior, Karen will graduate in April 2015 with double majors in History of Art & Architecture and Economics and a minor in French. Her long-term career goals include working as a curator or director of education or public programming in a museum, gallery, or another arts institution. She has had experience as an undergraduate teaching assistant for three semesters and a research assistant in the Visual Media Workshop. In Summer 2014, she was awarded the Milton Fine Museum Profession Fellowship to work as a curatorial assistant at the Andy Warhol Museum. She currently holds a position as gallery manager at Revision Space, a contemporary art gallery in Lawrenceville. Karen will present her HA&A honors thesis project on the Chinese Nationality Room and its historical context, focused on the transnational and cross-cultural issues concerning Chinese immigrants during the 1920s and ‘30s. Her thesis will produce an online exhibition featuring objects from the Chinese Nationality Room archives, newspapers contemporary to the time period of the Room’s creation, and present day photographs of the Room. This project is an exploration in both research and curatorial practice combined with her interest in Chinese immigrant and Chinese-American issues of identity and nationality.

    Karen's presentation at HAAARCH 2015 is entitled "The Politics of Display: Transnational Convergence in the Chinese Nationality Room."

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    "Radical Muralism in Three Dimensions: A Close Look at Siqueiros' May Day Political Float," by Abbey O'Brien

    On May 1, 1936, the streets of Manhattan’s garment district were flooded with over forty thousand Leftist sympathizers in observance of the annual May Day Parade for workers. Many of those involved in the procession carried banners or created ephemeral performance pieces to advocate for worker’s rights. None of these projects, however, were quite as dramatic as the piece that radical Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros and his Experimental Workshop designed for the parade. Siqueiros’ May Day Political Float violently attacks American capitalism and European fascism through its depiction of both a Wall Street tickertape machine and a Nazi swastika symbol on the head of a capitalist figure that holds a donkey and elephant in each of his hands. The three-dimensional Float advocates Communism through the form of a moving hammer that repeatedly smashes the tickertape machine and sprays blood-colored streamers all over the face of the capitalist figure. This piece was theatrical, revolutionary, violent, and a feat for a group of painters at Siqueiros’ Experimental Workshop.

    Siqueiros’ Float would certainly have caused a stir in the United States, for at the time, the CPUSA was advocating for less violent artistic imagery in an attempt to make their cause more palatable to a wider audience. Clearly, the Float is the antithesis of the subtle, peaceful imagery that was being advocated for, yet there remains little to no record of the reception of this object. Even in texts that survey Siqueiros’ career and his time in the United States, the Float is merely glazed over in discussion of the artist’s stylistic evolution. It becomes of interest, then, why so little attention has been paid to this dramatic and controversial work of art.

    Focusing primarily on Siqueiros’ writings from the 1930s and the trajectory of his career, this study will demonstrate the importance of the May Day Political Float to both Siqueiros’ oeuvre and to American art history. The Float undoubtedly encapsulated Siqueiros’ artistic goals of collective work, experimentation with innovative materials, and reaching a mass audience, but it also marks a moment in history in which American (U.S., Mexican, and Latin American) artists creatively collaborated on a public, ephemeral, and revolutionary work of art. Under the belief that the significance of this endeavor cannot be overlooked any longer, this study will give the May Day Political Float the second look that it very much deserves.

    For more information about Abbey, go here

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    Abbey O'Brien

    Abbey O’Brien is a senior majoring in History and Art & Architecture. Originally studying Art Education with a minor in Art History at the University of Vermont, Abbey transferred to the University of Pittsburgh in 2013 where her passion for art history flourished. She is interested in a broad scope of modern topics that range from Austrian art during the fin-de-siècle and interwar periods to the impact of the Mexican mural movement. Deeply interested in how radical political art has served as vehicle to elicit change, Abbey hopes to continue on this research path post-graduation. 

    Abbey will present a paper entitled "Radical Muralism in Three Dimensions: A Close Look at Siqueiros’ May Day Political Float," at HAAARCH 2015.

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    "Women and Empore: The Issue of Gendered Space in Ottonian Architecture," by Matthew Sova

    Saint Cyriakus is a small convent located in the rural town of Gernrode, Germany. It was constructed in the tenth century under the direct patronage of Margrave Gero, an aristocrat with close ties to the Ottonian dynasty of Holy Roman Emperors. Although Saint Cyriakus exemplifies early Ottonian architectural style, it introduces an innovative architectural element: the Empore, a raised gallery space located in the western end of some basilica-plan churches. Scholars have considered the Empore at Saint Cyriakus to be the first constructed north of the Alps, promoting Gernrode to a prominent position among architectural monuments of medieval Germany.

    Architectural historians have assumed that the Empore is an imperial space, functioning as a way to separate the rulers and their court from the common laity. However, the issue with this assumption lies in the lack of conclusive evidence for this phenomenon; there is no explicit link between imperial sites and the presence of an Empore. Also, there is little clear evidence that tenth-century convents were concerned with imperial authority. The connection between empire and Empore was advanced by German scholarship of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was strengthened by the nationalist ideas circulating within the new German Empire. Imperial connotations greatly excited the intellectual and political leaders of Germany in this period, as it connected their own expansionist aims to an ancient ‘German’ past. However, the purpose of the Empore is more complicated.

    This paper asserts that the Empore at Saint Cyriakus is a result of interactions between gender roles, religion, and aesthetics. Gernrode is a useful case study that challenges the assumption that the Empore is an inherent signifier of imperial status. Although the Ottonians were active in the region, the site was not constructed under direct imperial patronage. Rather, Saint Cyriakus was built by a local ruler and used by secular canonesses, noble-born women that did not take permanent vows. A comparison of Gernrode to the Ottonian abbey churches of Quedlinburg, Essen, and Groeningen, each of which contains an Empore, will be central to this paper. This comparison will highlight the diverse reasons for the construction of an Empore, including the housing of altars, security of canonesses, cross-cultural exchange with Byzantine artists, and an interest in verticality in architecture. This paper illuminates how modern collectivities have re-contextualized the past to legitimize their authority, but utilizes historical text, cultural studies, and archaeology to challenge these nationalist assertions.

    More information about Matthew Sova can be found here

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