The Art History Symposium is an annual event hosted by the Chapman University Department of Art in collaboration with the Chapman Art History Club. The symposium aims to promote the sharing of academic ingenuity and creativity in the art history discipline. It is the only art historical symposium on the west coast where undergraduates are given the opportunity to present their research to a scholarly audience of students and professionals in the field.
Each year the students on the Art History Symposium Committee, along with the art history professors, select six undergraduate students to present their research at the symposium. The selection panel receives submissions from many top colleges and universities that undergo a rigorous vetting process and blind review before being accepted. The research must express an original idea, or re-contextualize objects, ideas, or theories. Over the past seven years, the Art History Symposium has become an international event with presenters and applicants from across North and South America. Around 50 people attended the symposium this year, making it one of the largest symposiums in Chapman’s history. The symposium is an opportunity for Chapman students to gain experience evaluating the research of their peers, and presenting their own research in an organized and professional manner. The symposium is a also a wonderful opportunity for Chapman students and the Orange community to learn about developing areas of study in the art historical field.
When asked about the research process, Annie Bergeron, one of the presenters from the University of North Texas, discussed how the paper she presented was written as part of a semester long art history senior project. Annie discussed how she has been interested in her topic Action and Reaction: Understanding the Impact of Buddhism on the Work of Kazuo Shiraga for some time and has continually researched it throughout her undergraduate career. While studying Kazuo Shiraga, a Japanese artist, Annie had to work her way around the language barriers she encountered. At one point, Annie stated, “research never ends,” demonstrating her approach to research as a process with unlimited paths and no single solution.
Chapman also showcased the talent within their own art department with two student presenters. Jessica Bocinski is a junior art history major, a student art ambassador, and a student art collection assistant at Chapman University. Jessica’s presentation was titled The Invisible Artist: Reframing William Holman Hunt’s Work Through 15th Century Netherlandish Art.
When interviewed on her experience preparing for the symposium, Jessica stated that she had to edit her research paper down to just 10 pages out of the original 20 she had written as part of her Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. In order to prepare, Jessica focused on matching images to her spoken text, intending to engage the audience in her presentation and give them the much needed understanding of Hunt’s body of work. Jessica focused on rehearsing and editing her presentation in order to make the delivery flawless and the presentation captivating.
The Art History Symposium inspires undergraduates to preform research that pushes the intellectual boundaries of art history. The symposium engages the Chapman community and provides an opportunity to learn more about the field of art history. In the future, The Art History Symposium will continue to expand and engage undergraduates across the globe.
Featured Image at top (from left to right): Adrian Butler (University of Colorado at Denver), Jessica Bocinski (Chapman University), McKenna Robbie (Chapman University), Annie Bergeron (University of North Texas), Taylor Hosford (University of North Texas), Dr. Heather Badamo (Assistant Professor at University of California, Santa Barbara). Not pictured: Freya Martinson (University of Tulsa in Oklahoma). Image: Garret Hill, 2017.
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