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News from alumna Megan Masana (MFA 2003)

February 15, 2010

Megan Masana (MFA 2003) sent us an update of her recent activities as a Ph.D. student at the University of Iowa in art and architectural history.

“I really miss Savannah and the program.  Was really just the most fun I have had academically.  I am still loving the process of writing my dissertation though.  I am working on a PhD in Art History at the University of Iowa.  My three areas of focus are American Art, Architectural History and African Art, although, I have enough course work in Modern Art to minor in that as well.   As usual, I am IN LOVE with my artist, Winold Reiss.  He is known for a number of reasons:  (1)  his work with Alain Locke and W.E.B. Dubois on the art for The New Negro, (2) the mosaics for the Cincinnati Union Terminal (several of which are now on display permanently at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport, (3) importing the Art Deco style from Europe (he did Longchamp’s Restaurant in New York (at the Empire State Building) and well as the Crillon, etc.).  You can see some of his work/biography at a site maintained by his daughter-in-law, Renate, at www.winold-reiss.org.

I am using him as a sort of case study.  My interest lies in the creation of an American identity (visually) at the turn of the last century — what was at stake, what was promoted, what was rejected, etc.  Wanda Corn’s The Great American Thing was a real starting point for me.  I had the great opportunity to meet her while she was on a visit to Iowa a few years ago, and we spoke then of my interests.  Like Corn, I believe that transatlantic exchange was of extreme importance/influence at the time, and impacted not only images, but the writing of history.  As a white, German, immigrant artist who worked both in a figurative and abstract style, and who worked in such a range of media/places in the United States, he is truly interesting.

I have had the opportunity to teach the History of Western Art (both before and after the Renaissance), Art and Visual Culture, African Art, etc.  I have also worked as a research assistant helping to catalog and maintain our collection of works by Eve Drewelowe.  I also took inspiration from our Symposium at SCAD, and worked twice as symposium chair at Iowa.  When I arrived, there were typically 12 students from Iowa in attendance, and almost all of the papers presented were from Iowa students.  By the time of my second symposium, there were over 400 people in attendance, our keynote was Margaretta Lovell, we had over 10 presenters (1 of whom was a professor) all from outside of Iowa, etc.  I also helped to develop an online journal (no longer in production, however, sadly) in conjunction with the event, and helped to create an exhibit in conjunction with the event as well (this allowed for a lot of interaction with the studio artists, and helped to satiate my inner curator for a bit!).   I hope that doesn’t sound like bragging, but really did want to tell you a bit about what I am doing/have done.  I always think of SCAD and how constantly inspiring/diverse it was.  How you, as a department, attempted to stimulate a wide-range of interests, and it is what I hoped to bring with me to Iowa.”

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