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Students present research at Larry W. Forrest Writing Symposium

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by Tilleen Meitzler, image courtesy SCAD

May 8 at 6 p.m. an audience gathered in the Arnold Hall Theater to witness exceptional research presentations. The Larry W. Forrest Writing Symposium, an art history-based competition, recognized four papers for thorough work and erudite achievements.

To have made it onstage, students from any major were encouraged to prepare original, independently explored papers to be judged by the department’s faculty. It was a blind competition, and scholarships were awarded to the honored students.

“There were so many strong papers this year,” said Dr. Lisa Jaye Young, competition coordinator and art history professor. “The decision process was difficult.” Young was accompanied by professors Dr. Gabriela Jasin and Dr. Rebecca Turner to organize the event. After witnessing each well-grounded, fluent presentation, this difficulty became understandable.

Students worked with a faculty mentor to prepare submissions. The paper could focus on any topic within the art history realm. However, honored work showed a deeper meaning than the regurgitation of dates and media; researchers discerned topics and shaped arguments about their chosen focuses and went so far as to fill in holes about their artists left empty by other researchers.

So, there, in the theater, after the house lights dimmed, the speakers illuminated their compelling discoveries. They stood and spoke with clarity and poise, and the receptive audience absorbed.

The first presentation was by the Undergraduate Honorable Mention, Corey Householder. Householder’s paper, “‘Hello Dolly!’ Perversion as Masquerade in Hans Bellmer’s Doll Series,” elucidated Bellmer’s work tied with gender dysphoria and repressed homosexuality. The images of disfigured papier-mâché dolls projected onto a gigantic screen, though stifling to see so large, did not jar his presentation. Householder spoke with eloquence and made claims solid with confidence.

Undergraduate Winner, Katie Ulmer, presented “The Metamorphosis of Mother Artist: Louise Bourgeois’s ‘Spider.’” Ulmer drew connections between Bourgeois’s arachnid sculptures and the literary narrative of Ovid’s Arachnae. Ulmer’s independent discovery replaced holes other scholars failed to fill. 

Graduate Honorable Mention, Olivia Tiberio, expounded “Genre and Portraiture; Hals and Leyster.” Tiberio covered the differences and convergences of genre and portrait paintings, and as a painting major herself, was the only student not pursuing a degree in art history.

Last was the Graduate Winner, Clarissa Chevalier. “How the Deconstruction of Binary Opposition Has Shaped the Writing, Work, and Reception of Agnes Denes” brought us into the world of Ecological Art and Earth Art. Chevalier discussed a tension of opposites between the Anthropocene and nature. Despite the paradox of her topic, Chevalier remained stable speaking about relationships between Earth, art and humans.

It remains a proud night for the art history department. The annual event is dedicated to Larry W. Forrest, a beloved professor who passed away within the last decade. “Larry was always willing to go the extra mile for his students,” said Dr. Arthur DiFuria, art history department chair. “He was a professor of the highest order.” And by excellence, the highest order was honored. 

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