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Trio of Art History Graduate Alumni Make Impact Internationally

Betony Latham, Caitlin Overton and Scott Gleason Practicing in Brazil, Ireland

Scott Gleeson (M.A. 2009) represents a new generation of “hybrids,” creative minds who work simultaneously as artists, art historians, and curators. Gleeson thrived as a Master’s student in SMU’s Art History department: “it enabled me to identify new areas/modes of practice and prepared me for the rigors of curatorial work and criticism.” Following his graduation in 2009 he published two articles based on his thesis, and was invited to present the talk “Viewing Belfast: Community Practice in a Divided City” at the 2010 College Art Association Meetings in Chicago. Scott also was awarded an Oklahoma Art Writing and Curatorial Fellowship in 2010 and was a finalist for Houston’s Hunting Art Prize this year as well. Currently he is working in Washington, DC developing collaborative projects for combat veterans on the trials of homecoming.

Betony Latham (M.A. 2010) joined a distinguished group of scholars invited to present their research in July at the Tenth International Conference of the Brazilian Studies Association in Brasília. Her talk, “The Politics of Space: Landscapes in Eckhout's Large Figure Paintings,” derives from a chapter of her M.A. thesis. Betony is working closely with Art History Professor Amy Buono on a study of the 17th century Dutch artist Albert Eckhout, one of the first European artists to spend time in coastal Brazil and generate paintings of its landscape and inhabitants. To be competitive for participation in the arena of international conferences, a graduate student must have access to funds for travel to the sites/archives, collections/and libraries central to their research. Betony received a Rigsbee Grant to travel to collections and libraries in Copenhagen (where most of Eckhout’s work now resides) during Winter Break 2010. That research experience was invaluable to her successful application to the conference in Brasilia. Travel to the conference in July was made possible by one of our very generous alums-- a former M.A. student who understands what it takes to make a contribution and a career.

Caitlin Overton (M.A. 2010) was also the beneficiary of a Rigsbee Grant in 2009/10. The Rigsbee made it possible for her to travel to Northern Ireland to complete research on the artist Willie Doherty and his 2008 video installation titled “Ghost Story,” a thesis project on which she is working with Professor Eric Stryker. Caitlin had a paper accepted for a conference based on her thesis, “Returning to the Haunted Road: Willie Doherty, Memory, and the Scarred Landscape of Northern Ireland.” Funding from the Art History Department made possible travel to the conference “Continuity and Change” that was organized by the Pennsylvania State University Graduate Student Association in Visual Culture.

All three students attribute their success to the strong culture of mentorship in the department and generous funding that made it possible to produce research at a high level.

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