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. For application information and procedures, please click on the following link: John T. Paoletti Travel Research Fellowships in Art History

Josh Merkin ‘22

The Body and the Archive: Contemporary Performance Art as Institutional Critique 

My project will explore the relationship between the body and museums in American performance art since the 1960s. As a means of enacting institutional critique, the body—specifically that of the artist themselves, acting within the architectural mass of the museum—generates a poignant and physically urgent interrogation of the institution, framing it critically as archive, cultural authority, and economic monolith. Focusing on the history of performance artists in the United States, I will utilize the work of the radical 1960s collective the Guerilla Art Action Group, the Indigenous artist James Luna, and the conceptual performer Andrea Fraser to explore the significance and correlation of artists using their bodies as instruments of institutional critique. My thesis seeks to explore how, in the mode of institutional critique, the use of the body through performative actions derives particular potency as a human being interacts with the metaphysical, ideological, and architectural spaces of the institution at large.

Ann Zhang ‘22

1920’s Shanghai, Reimagined & Recreated in 2020:

Preservation & Gentrification of Wukang Mansion and the Surrounding Area in Former French Concession

Designed by a Slovakian architect Laszlo Hudec in 1924, Wukang Mansion (previously known as Normandie Apartment) in Shanghai’s former French concession underwent a series of recent renovations that were completed in 2019, while its surrounding area experienced preservation, gentrification, and transformation. Partially influenced by its precedent, Xintiandi, one of the earliest gentrifications and historical preservation projects in Shanghai, the projects at Wukang Mansion and surrounding area mark a new generation of preservation and gentrification in China with up-to-date solutions. The projects along Wukang Rd. reflect a collective choice, made by both the government and the public, to reimagine and recreate the 1920’s Shanghai––a “golden age” when the city was called “the Paris of the East.” The mansion resembles the Flatiron Building in Manhattan that was built around the same time, and the former concessions are often portrayed in novels and movies as a crucial part of the city of Shanghai. This thesis will come in two parts exploring the “reimagination” (i.e., what, when, and where does the architecture or walkways remind the visitors of) and “recreation” (i.e., how are those imaginations realized or recreated in physical forms).


Previous recipients since the fellowship's founding in 2012:

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"