Completed Honors Projects 2009 - Present

  • Anticipating Works Unknown: The Foundations of the Contemporary Art Museum
    Samuel Colin Usdan
    Thu, 06 Aug 2015

    Relative to older museum types, the contemporary art museum is unique as it has yet to reach maturity. In the 1960s, the relation between artist and medium began to change, resulting in an expansion beyond the traditional media of painting and sculpture. Works in non-traditional media such as large-scale installations, performances, conceptual pieces, or audiovisual presentations were rejected by Modern art museums, prompting the creation of alternative exhibition venues. In the 1980s, curators began to recognize the cultural value of these works, and started to design museum programs to accommodate them. This essay will examine the development of the contemporary art museum through a rigorous analysis of the history, design, planning, execution, and curatorial life of two built examples; the Wexner Center for the Arts (Peter Eisenman, Columbus, 1989) and the Institute of Contemporary Art (Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Boston, 2006). The Wexner Center was built on the campus of Ohio State University and was intended to inspire the creation of new art while facilitating the exhibition of existing works. Its architecture is inspired by the site’s history as an armory building, expressed by the fractured brick turrets that compose its southern elevation, as well as an urban planning error between the campus and city, articulated by two sets of grids that structure its volumes and permeate its spaces. The ICA, constructed as a new museum facility for an existing institution, is cantilevered over the Boston Harbor. Intended for exhibition, its transparent glass fa’ade frames views of the harbor, allowing the museum to enter into a dialogue with its environment rather than isolating its visitors from its surroundings. Its gallery spaces, however, are shielded from distraction and aesthetically mimic those of Modern art museums. Contemporary art looks outwards by relying on content derived from societal conditions. To create an appropriate environment for contemporary art exhibition, contemporary art museums must look outwards as well. The architecture of both the Wexner and the ICA instill an awareness of architectural and historical context in the visitor as they circulate through the museum spaces. My objective is to examine how art, architecture, culture, and curatorship influenced the creation of the contemporary museum for contemporary art.

  • "Time is Now" Paul Thek in the 1960s
    Brandon Philip Eng
    Thu, 06 Aug 2015

    Although recent years have seen an increase in scholarly attention to the work of American artist Paul Thek (1933-1988), these efforts remain concentrated on a limited number of his works. In particular European scholars have focused on his installations from the early to mid 1970s, while American scholars remain fixated on his participation in the New York art scene of the 1960s and his "meat pieces" from that period. By taking the latter as a starting point I analyze themes that run throughout Thek's work from the middle to late 1960s, with three distinct series or works as case studies. This period is a critical junction in Thek's career as he began to experiment with new material and theoretical vantage points. Each chapter also considers to various degrees, Thek's thematic interest in time in relation to various contemporary genres including Pop, Minimalism, Post-Minimalism, Performance, and others.

  • Postmodern Topography: A New Reading of Ed Ruscha's Twentysix Gasoline Stations and Every Building on the Sunset Strip
    Alexa Marie Burzinski
    Thu, 06 Aug 2015

    Ed Ruscha’s photo books are among some of the most puzzling art objects produced in America during the 1960s and 70s. Each title reads like a set of instructions, usually consisting of a quantity (whether an exact number or a quantitative adjective) followed by a tangible, countable subject, which, in Ruscha’s case, ranges from gas stations to crackers to artificial plants. Though they appear to conform to the standard conventions of bound paperback volumes, and are nearly indistinguishable from any other one might find on a bookshelf, Ruscha's book projects of the 60s and 70s have come to be recognized as crucial to photography's development, encouraging new conceptual approaches to the medium and heightening interest in analyzing the built landscape. Ruscha produced sixteen photo books between 1963 and 1978 in large editions of several hundred or thousand using high-speed professional presses, all of which were available for a relatively nominal price. Six of them incorporate the topography of Los Angeles, the artist’s adopted city including his first, Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963), and his third, Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966), both arguably the artist’s most well known, as well as the most frequently addressed in the literature on Ruscha. Since their appearance in the mid-1960s, both have been situated into traditions ascribed to Pop, photo-documentary and conceptual art practices, but uncomfortably so in each case. Despite the wealth of scholarship on these books, they make fruitful case studies for addressing what has been, more or less, an overlooked question: what reading of 1960s greater Los Angeles do Ruscha’s photo books actually perform? In my project I propose a new reading of Twentysix Gasoline Stations and Every Building on the Sunset Strip, one that investigates them in the context of theories on postmodern architecture and the urban experience. I offer a new term to describe them: postmodern topography. Using this definition and the writings of Fredric Jameson, Jean Baudrillard , Reyner Banham and Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations and Every Building on the Sunset Strip theorize his term I have proposed. Considering their inability to fit within existing terminology, Ruscha’s books are defined by contradiction, embodying a sort of “both/and” quality that both embraces and rejects the postmodern urban experience. In the case of postmodern topography: Twentysix Gasoline Stations and Every Building on the Sunset Strip appear to celebrate Los Angeles’s freeway system, as does Banham, yet Ruscha withholds the visual representation of roads and cars from his readers. While they seem to anticipate Venturi and Scott Brown’s conception of sign culture, the absence of cars and highways seems to void this, as well. While they seem to confirm Baudrillard and Jameson’s dystopic views of postmodern society, they also pose formal qualities that do not solely adhere to their grammar of flatness and surface. While the photographs contained within them are flattened, as well, the books themselves assume an architectural character that challenges this conception. Postmodern topography embodies these books’ proclivity for tension and contradiction. Seeing that it is contradictory itself, it is only fitting that a curious term is used to define these equally curious publications. Taking this into account, Ruscha’s decision to publish books at the time at which he did seems to suggest that Twentysix Gasoline Stations and Every Building on the Sunset Strip comment on a particular time and place, that being Los Angeles in the 1960s.

  • Holding Up Govardhana: The Independent Harivamsha Manuscript
    Rachel Pei Hirsch
    Thu, 06 Aug 2015

    This study is an analysis of the independent Harivamsa manuscript produced for the Mughal Emperor Akbar in the 1580s. Although this was the second copy of the text commissioned by Akbar, the manuscript exhibits unique characteristics that distinguish it within the Mughal manuscript tradition. Notably, while the first copy was produced in 1582 as a mere appendix to a translation of the Mahabharata, this new version of the Harivamsha commissioned in the late 1580s was produced as a standalone manuscript of exceptionally high quality. Additionally, although the text of the Harivamsha had already been translated from Sanskrit into Persian for the earlier manuscript, a new translation was commissioned independently of the original translation for the later copy. Despite these distinctive qualities, the independent Harivamsha manuscript has been largely ignored and the little scholarship that refers to it is highly generalized or inaccurate. In order to rectify this oversight, this study pivots around the manuscript’s singular illustration of Krishna Holding Up Mount Govardhana. Through previously unutilized methodological approaches, such as analyzing the singular illustration of Krishna Holding Up Mount Govardhana within its codicological context, placing the manuscript within the multicultural geography of northern India, and situating it within a broader frame of cultural production, this study illuminates the independent Harivamsha manuscript’s relationship to political, religious, and cultural trends of late sixteenth century northern India.

  • Conscious Collaboration: The Contemporary Dialogue between Fashion and Architecture
    Gavriella Mara Wolf
    Thu, 06 Aug 2015

    Fashion and architecture are two design practices that today cross paths, overlap, work in dialogue, and are occasionally conflated as creative strategies dependent on branding, presentation, and emergent technologies. This thesis investigates the contemporary relationship between fashion and architecture, and how the relationship between the two media has become more fluid due to the work of certain designers in each field. I sought out to understand the enabling strategies and motivations behind this complex relationship. The first chapter returns to the mid-nineteenth and turn of the twentieth century to explore the historical relationship between fashion and architecture. Beginning with ideas of dress reform and anti-fashion, artists maintained diverse opinions as to what fashion was and, in contrast, what they imagined it could be. Architects so vehemently opposed mainstream fashion that they designed fashions of their own, translating an artistic aesthetic into the applied arts of both fashion and architecture. Vestiges of this early modern period persist in the architectural and fashion industries today. In this early modern period, fashion was a concept, not an industry, and certainly not an art form. The design and production of garments, however, offered opportunities of art and dress coalescing, delivering a new platform for aesthetic ideas to be carried into everyday life. The second chapter looks at the work of key architects who have expanded their brand to the design of more than architecture, and who have become icons in their own right, deemed “starchitects.” My choice example is Zaha Hadid, who has transformed from a successful architect known for her daring architectural style as well as her bold fashion sense, to a designer of fashions of her own. Comparisons can be drawn between her fashion designs and her buildings, demonstrating an awareness of the shared formal properties between fashion and architecture, and Hadid’s ability to translate her trademark style into different artistic media. Hadid’s expansion of her own brand from an architect to a starchitect designer of fashion conveys a keen awareness for marketing and self-presentation not ordinarily identified in the architecture industry. The third chapter delves into the fashion industry to examine the work of unconventional fashion designers, regarded as avant-garde artists, who strategically incorporate architectural properties and techniques into their garments. Fashion designers have credited architecture for inspiring their work and artistic processes, but have made no public attempts at becoming architects of anything other than their own clothing. Issey Miyake and Hussein Chalayan are two fashion designers with very different aesthetics and approaches, but both utilize technology to incorporate architectural forms and surface strategies into their designs. Technological practices have enabled the crossovers between these industries, as the artists explored in this thesis use digital fabrication to experiment with surface of building or garment, blurring the boundary between fashion and architecture. Zaha Hadid, Issey Miyake, and Hussein Chalayan are all standouts because they have forged this communication with other media. Each of these artists has different reasons for their personal interest in the opposite industries of architecture or fashion, but they have found this crossover dialogue to be paramount to the achievement of an avant-garde brand. As each seeks unique strategies of fabrication as well as presentation, they strive to make the conventions of their media unconventional, turning to the opposite practices of fashion or architecture to do so.

  • Progressive Arrangements: Citizenship and the Modernist Museum at the Barnes Foundation
    Grace L. Kuipers
    Fri, 04 Jul 2014


  • NEOCLASTICS: Defining Architectures of Flux
    Isadora Simone Dannin
    Fri, 04 Jul 2014
  • The Fabric of the Bel Composto: Bernini's Draperies and the Redefinition of the Arts
    Katherine Jane Wolf
    Tue, 19 Jun 2012
  • The Manipulation of Sacred Places: The Role of Jerusalem's Temple Mount in the Construction of Identity
    Natasha Thomas Camhi
    Tue, 19 Jun 2012
  • In a Borrowed Garden: A Rhizomatic Theory of Transnational Tibetan Art
    Yongneng Conan Cheong
    Tue, 19 Jun 2012

    According to standard interpretations of the Tibetan diaspora, with the incorporation of Tibet into the People’s Republic of China in the 1950s, all art in Tibet itself is degenerate, and the Tibetans in exile are framed as the sole custodians of their imperiled traditions. However, is it accurate to portray the 5.4 million Tibetans who still live in Chinese-occupied Tibet as having utterly repudiated their “culture”? This study seeks to answer this question through a comparative study of the parallel developments in diaspora of Tibetan Buddhist sculpture, based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in workshops in exilic Dharamsala, India and in Chengdu, the major Chinese city closest to geographic Tibet.

  • Frederick Law Olmsted: Reimagining the U.S Capitol Grounds
    Erika Aya Siegel
    Tue, 19 Jun 2012
  • Norman Foster and Water Conservation: A Comprehensive Analysis of Sustainable Design
    Anne Elizabeth deBoer
    Tue, 19 Jun 2012

    A critical analysis of the literature on sustainable architecture through Sir Norman Foster's use of water technologies.

  • Invisible Women : The Re-presentation of African-American Women in the Photography of Lorna Simpson and Carrie Mae Weems
    Obidimma O. Okobi
    Wed, 13 Jun 2012
  • MATERIAL IMMEDIATE: Lawrence Weiner, Anticonceptualist
    Sayre Catherine Sears Sundberg
    Thu, 02 Jun 2011
  • Private Passage: Service Planning in the Ladies' Home Journal, 1895-1919
    Carlo Prescott Urmy
    Thu, 02 Jun 2011
  • Framing the Dilettante: The Art of Martin Kippenberger
    William Lawrence Krieger
    Thu, 02 Jun 2011
  • Corporeal Identities: The Poured Works of Lynda Benglis
    Anna Zaida Szapiro
    Thu, 02 Jun 2011
  • Of Screens and Stones: Technological Innovations in Lithography and Screenprinting developed in the New York City Graphic Arts Workshop Under the Works Progress Administration
    Margaret Anne Aldredge
    Thu, 02 Jun 2011
  • Women in the Omnibus and Modes of Printmaking: The Iconography and Marketing of Cassatt's 1891 Series
    Margaret Waldo Bowers
    Thu, 02 Jun 2011
  • Sacrality & Modernity At Villa Giustiniani-Cambiaso
    Whitten Robert Overby
    Thu, 17 Jun 2010