John T. Paoletti Travel Research Fellowships
in Art History

Funds are available to support student research and travel in the summer following the junior year that will result in a senior thesis project. Only current juniors who are working with art history faculty and who will complete a senior thesis are eligible. These funds are made available through a gift from Judith Gurewich P’05, P’10 to the Art History Program at Wesleyan University in honor of John T. Paoletti, Kenan Professor of the Humanities, Emeritus and Professor of Art History, Emeritus. Paoletti Research Travel Fellowships are intended for advanced students who have demonstrated a commitment to art historical study and a strong aptitude for writing and research. In addition to a solid background in art history and knowledge of relevant foreign languages, students must have formulated an original, coherent, and methodologically informed research project related to the study of art objects, material culture, cultural sites, and/or architecture. Applicants must demonstrate that travel to archives and to specific collections and/or sites is necessary in order to complete successfully the proposed project. 

Application information and procedures for academic year 2024-25 will be posted in Fall 2024. 

The 2024 John T. Paoletti Travel Research Fellowship Recipients: 

Valerie Gottridge '25
‘Jane in Peepland’ : Jane Dickson, Times Square, and Guerilla Art

 As Laurence Senelick details in Inventing Times Square: Commerce and Culture at the Crossroads of the World (1991), the Times Square of the 1980s proffers a particular collection of microcosms worth responding to: the sex industry, with its peep shows and adult movie theaters; public displays of so-called sexual deviancy; housing crises; drug use; consumerism and commercialism; policing; and the promise of destruction and recreation with the 42nd Street Development Project. Working in this environment of visual and sensory overload, Jane Dickson acted as artist-witness to Times Square. Toeing the line between the representational and the conceptual, Dickson produced work independently and with Colab, Fashion Moda, the Public Art Fund, and other New York artist collectives. Despite the fact that much work has been published on the aforementioned “art gangs” and their groundbreaking shows (i.e. Colab’s Real Estate Show and the Times Square Show in 1980), the specific contributions of Jane Dickson to these groups and works have not yet been discussed in a scholarly text. In my thesis project, I will address the interventions that Dickson’s solo and collaborative works make into the politics of public space, urbanity, and desire. Using Dickson’s archives, I hope to simultaneously track the trajectory of her career, the influences on and processes of key works, and her experimentation with medium and subject matter  — to ultimately situate her œuvre as part of the world of guerilla artmaking in New York and as a critical response to the shifting psychogeography of the city at the end of the twentieth century.

Emily Petersdorf '25
"Dorothy Liebes: Textiles in Architecture and Interior Design"

Dorothy Liebes was one of the most prominent textile designers of the 20th century, with her work redefining American interior design in addition to being integral to the projects of many well-established architects. Known for her colorful and geometric designs, Liebes’s work spanned the realm of furniture design, interior decor, and fashion. Her style developed alongside American modernist visions and the introduction of numerous technologies that revolutionized the textile industry. Through this project, I aim to demonstrate the role of interior design and fiber arts in the development of modernist architecture in America. Not only is Liebes’s work significant to the history of fiber arts, but it was also influential for architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, resulting in multiple collaborations. I will be visiting Cooper Hewitt and using their exhibit “A Dark, a Light, a Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes” as a reference for my research, with it being the first retrospective exhibition on Liebes in over 50 years. I will also be conducting research at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, as they have biographical material, writings and correspondences, and her artwork and samples. Through these archives, I will be able to contextualize Liebes and Wright's relationship and better understand her textiles.

Sophie Raiskin-Wood '25
"Centering the Body; Simone Leigh’s Artistic and Social Practice"

For my senior thesis I will research the contemporary artwork and social practice of Simone Leigh. Leigh is a multimedia sculpture artist, who has received worldwide attention after receiving the first artist commission for the New York High Line, representing the U.S. at the 2022 Venice Biennale, and having an on-going touring exhibition of her work at ICA Boston, the Smithsonian’s Hirshorn, and LACMA. Simone Leigh is best known for her large-scale sculptures of Black female figures, yet she also engages in a more hands-on activist practice by creating public health clinics inside of private cultural institutions. Her works Free People’s Medical Clinic at the Brooklyn Stuyvesant Mansion and Waiting Room at the New Museum provided free holistic health care. Both Simone Leigh’s artistic and social practices are focused on the body, women’s labor, and performance. I will explore the connections between Leigh’s social and artistic practice, specifically in the realm of reproductive health. Supported by John T. Paoletti Travel Research Fellowship, I will travel to Los Angeles, California this summer to visit the Simone Leigh survey exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the California African American Museum. 


Previous recipients since the fellowship's founding in 2012:

2023: Olivia Andrews, Art History Major
Project Title: "The Emergence of Cape Verdean Visual Culture Post-Independence"

2023: Bailey Chapin, Art History and French Double Major
Project Title: "Joan Mitchell in Paris and Vétheuil"

2023: Emma Flaherty, Art History Major
Project Title: "The Artist as Cultural and Religious Pilgrim: Dutch Artists in Renaissance Italy"

2023: Sabrina Tian, Art Hisyory and Double Major
Project Title: "Between Japan and America: On Kawara's Personal Conceptualism"

2022: Gabby Farina, Art History and English Double Major
Project title: "The Aesthetic of the Feminine: Female Spaces in the Art and Architecture of Al-Andalus"

2022: Sarah Hale, Art History and Italian Studies Double Major
Project Title: "Engravings of Dante's Commedia in Wesleyan’s 1481 Incunable"

2022: Mim Pomerantz, Art History and Art Studio Double Major
Project title: "Surrealism, Ethnography, and Photography" 

2021: Josh Merkin, Art History Major and Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate 
Project title: "The Body and the Archive: Contemporary Performance Art as Institutional Critique"

2021: Ann Zhang, Art History, Psychology, Science in Society Triple Major
Project title: "1920’s Shanghai, Reimagined & Recreated in 2020: Preservation & Gentrification of Wukang Mansion and the Surrounding Area in Former French Concession"

2020 Maya Hayda, Art History and English Double Major
Project title: "Reshaped and Reframed: Art, Industry, and the Changing American Landscape"

2020 Riley Richards, Art History Major and History Minor
Project title: "Newcomb Pottery: Women and Enterprise in the American Arts and Crafts Movement"

2019 Emma Frohardt, Art History Major, Hispanic Literatures and Cultures Major
Project title: "Art as Cultural Critic: Surveillance, Authorship and Collectivism in the Oeuvre of Equipo Crónica, 1964-81"

2019 Olivia Samios, Art History Major, French Studies Major
Project title: "The Nordic Home as a Total Work of Art: Codifications of Nationalism in Norwegian Home Design, 1880-1905"

2018 Sara Kim, Art History Major, College of East Asian Studies Minor and Data Analysis Minor
Project title: "The Impact of Jesuit Missionaries on the New Visual Culture in Japan: Namban Byōbu in the 16th and 17th Centuries"

2018 Rachel Rosin, Art History and English Double Major
Project title: "Mary Cassatt & the Impressionist Exhibitions: Defining 19th Century 'Girlhood'"

2017 Nicole Boyd, Art History and Italian Studies Double Major with a Writing Certificate
Project title: "Compositional Cross-Dressing: The Figures of Guido Cagnacci, the Pursuit of Invention, and the Construction of Artistic Identity in 17th Century Italy"

2017 Emily Furnival, College of Letters Major
Project title: "Fictitious Friars, Reconstructed Romans: The Architecture and Experience of the Getty Villa and Met Cloisters"

2017 Juntai Shen, Art History and College of Social Studies Double Major
Project title: "Modern vs. Rural: The Chinese Rural Architecture & Modernization since 1978--Three Case Studies"

2016 Nathan Johnson, Art History and College of Letters Double Major
Project title: "Purvis Young, Lonnie Holley, and Thornton Dial: When Outsider Artists Become Insiders"

2016 Sharifa Lookman, Art History and College of Letters Double Major
Project title: "Non finito: Botticelli and the Status of Drawing in the Italian Renaissance 'Here It Behoves Us, Use A Little Art'"

2015 Bryan Schiavone, Art History Major
Project title: "The Tree as Cultural Pillar Throughout Indian Art History"

2014 Rachel Hirsch, Art History and French Studies Double Major
Project title: "Mughal Illustrations of Hindu Epics: Tracing Iconographic Sources of the Razmnama and the Ramayana to the Indic Visual Landscape"

2013 Grace Kuipers, Art History Major
Project title: "The Philosophy Behind the Wall: Modernism, Industrialism, Primitivism and Albert Barnes' Wall Ensembles"

2012 Zoe Mueller, University Major with a Concentration in Urban Studies
Project title: "Highway Adaptation and Appropriation: Grassroots Transformation of Visual Culture in the American Rust Belt"