Student News

Feb 2017
“Canon Fodder,” a School of Visual Arts exhibition curated by Aaron Ziolkowski, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art History, grapples with the canon of art history and its impact on contemporary art and artists. The exhibition, which opened on Monday, January 30, in Zoller Gallery and runs through Monday, February 6, features works by Ziolkowski, SoVA students, and alumni. Some participants created work specifically for the show, prompted by Ziolkowski to think of a meaningful work of art and make a piece of art in response to it. “The exhibition title addresses how we can use the canon for material to create new art and makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to cannon fodder,” explains Ziolkowksi. “Some artists choose to be well informed about art history and others are not interested because it might foreclose their thinking. Some don’t agree with which artists are considered canonical. Others just want to do something different.” “Canon Fodder” is Ziolkowski’s third curated show in the Zoller Gallery, although he has worked on many others since coming to Penn State for his master’s degree in art history in 2011. His other Zoller exhibitions include Farima Fooladi’s M.F.A. exhibition in fall 2016 and “Odd Couples,” a spring 2016 show pairing SoVA M.F.A. students and Art Education graduate students in the process of making corresponding work based upon artists’ descriptions. This is the first exhibition in which Ziolkowski displays a suite of his own work. “My work is obsessed with art history,” he admits. “I’m trying to show that too much knowledge of art history is stifling—like I am producing a collage of the past instead of something new. I want to foreground the exhibition with that work and move into the group work to present a wider spectrum and nuanced way of dealing with art history.”   Before attending Penn State, Ziolkowski earned his bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in art history at UCLA and worked for a period as a gallery guard and museum guide at the Long Beach Museum of Art, and as a guard and intern for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where he wrote a blog post about the amount of time security guards spend around art compared to curators and guards’ insights about the art.  A native of Long Beach and an only child, Ziolkowski credits his parents, who both have backgrounds in the arts, for his initial interest in art. At Penn State, he attends as many arts-related events as possible, including plays and music concerts, explaining that he is making up for what he missed while an undergrad. “I didn’t take full advantage of the opportunities I had as an undergraduate. After working for three years and going back to school, I realize how privileged I am to be doing something I like,” Ziolkowski continued. “It could be easy to reduce Penn State to football, but there are all kinds of opportunities for students, and Penn State is very good about supporting that range of interests.” Ziolkowski is currently working on his dissertation on the origins of large-scale, abstract paintings as lobby art in semi-public, architectural spaces in mid-’50s to early ’60s in New York and other major metro areas. His advisor, Sarah K. Rich, associate professor of art history, has helped him think about art from different perspectives. “She has the most flexible thinking process,” said Ziolkowski. “I’ve never seen someone so good at all the different parts of being a professor—teaching, writing, and advising. She is also involved with visual artists in class and in critiques, which I admire.” Ziolkowski’s admiration extends to other members of the department, including Evan Pugh Professor Anthony Cutler, for whom he serves as a research assistant. “It has been rewarding to see his research,” said Ziolkowksi about Cutler. “It is helpful to witness the whole scholarly process first-hand from the way that Dr. Cutler collects and organizes his information to the writing and submitting of articles.” Ziolkowksi advises students to make connections with other students they admire. “Find and make opportunities to work with people you like. Most of the shows I have worked on happened because I liked and respected the artists as people first. The connections between SoVA and Art History are important, and I hope that people continue to build relationships between the two.” The closing reception for “Canon Fodder” is Monday, February 6, 5–7 p.m. For more information about “Canon Fodder,” visit the SoVA website:    
Jan 2017
Tess Kutasz, Ph.D. candidate in art history, received a Roth-Thomas Award To Supplement a Fulbright Grant, from The Lois Roth Endowment.  Tess spent the 2015-16 academic year on a Fulbright Grant research her dissertation on “Christina, Queen of Sweden, and the Politics of Antiquities Collection in Early Modern Rome.”  
Jan 2017
New Exhibit Reveals How Penn State Research Influenced Widely Used Solar Design Technique Post Date:  Monday, January 9, 2017 A new Penn State exhibit will show how research at the University in the 1950s influenced a passive solar design technique widely used today. “Research Wrapped in Aesthetics: The Air Wall” will be on display in the Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library in the Stuckeman Family Building, January 16–May 5. The exhibit will include images and documents from Penn State’s libraries and archives, as well as a newly built model, all showing how Penn State faculty were among the first to explore solar design techniques intended to make the new glass buildings more comfortable and efficient. In the 1950s, architecture professor A. William Hajjar worked with faculty and students in architecture and engineering on what seems to have been one of the first projects to build and test a double-skin glass façade. In 1959, they created the Air Wall Test Building, a temporary structure on the University Park campus with exterior walls composed of two layers of glass forming a ventilated airspace used to remove or store heat. The current exhibit is the result of research by an interdisciplinary team of Penn State faculty and graduate students who, in 2015, rediscovered the story of the Air Wall when California architect Mark Hajjar, William Hajjar’s son, gifted his father’s architectural records to Penn State’s Special Collections Library. The research team has constructed a ½”=1’ model of the Air Wall Test Building, as well as several computational models, all of which help the researchers analyze the different set-ups proposed by Hajjar in 1959 and better understand how this early technology compares to the technology of today. Hajjar’s project in the 1950s was sparked with funding from the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (now PPG), which allowed for the construction of the Air Wall Test Building, including equipment inside the structure to monitor its performance. While from a distance it looked like a typical mid-century “glass box,” it featured double-skin glass walls. That type of wall was discussed by architects as early as the 1920s, but had never been rigorously tested. It did not reappear in architectural practice until the 1980s and has become a common feature of glass buildings in the past two decades. “Placing the Air Wall in the historical context of the 20th century leaves no doubt that Hajjar’s ideas were far ahead of his time,” said Ute Poerschke, associate professor of architecture and leader of this project. The Raymond A. Bowers Program for Excellence in Design and Construction of the Built Environment has funded the research into the history of the Air Wall and development of computer simulations. In addition to Poerschke, other members of the research team are Henry Pisciotta, arts and architecture librarian; Moses Ling, associate professor of architectural engineering; David Goldberg, practitioner instructor in landscape architecture; Laurin Goad, Ph.D. candidate in art history; Mahyar Hadighi and Mina Rahimian, Ph.D. candidates in architecture; and Anthony Vischansky and Marie McKenna, both 2016 M.Arch. graduates.  
Dec 2016
Helena Collazo (Art History Major) and Artur Sharifullin (Art History & Risk Management/Real Estate Majors) have been awarded $500 from the Arts & Architecture Opportunity Fund for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, by the College of Arts & Architecture and the Department of Art History.  Their Faculty Supervisor is Dr. Sarah K. Rich, Associate Professor of Art History.  These funds will help support research by the students on the effects that language has on a person’s perceptions of the monetary value of art. 
Nov 2016
Tess Kutasz Christensen presents "Alexandra the Great: Power, Sexuality and the Evolution of Queen Christina of Sweden's Use of Antique Imagery" one of three short, image-focused talks as part of the IAH's series of lunch talks Tuesday, November 29, 2016.  
Nov 2016
Aaron Ziolkowski Ph.D. Candidate in Art History “Going Up: Mobilization of Abstract Art in Cold War Manhattan” {Faculty Sponsor:  Dr. Sarah K. Rich}   Ann Walton Ph.D. Candidate in Art History “From Donjon to Dungeon: The Urban Castle as Prison” {Faculty Sponsor:  Dr. Elizabeth B. Smith}   Claire Heidenreich Ph.D. Candidate in Art History “Beneath the Breton Bonnet: Émile Bernard’s Depictions of Cranial Modification” {Faculty Sponsor:  Dr. Nancy Locke}   Theresa Kutasz Christensen Ph.D. Candidate in Art History “Muses, Marbles, and the Making of a Museum: The Forgotten Legacy of Queen Christina in the Swedish Royal Antiquities Collection” {Faculty Sponsor:  Dr. Brian A. Curran}   Laura Almeida Ph.D. Candidate in Art History “Forgetting the Best of Life: Vic Muniz’s Memory Renderings” {Faculty Sponsor:  Dr. Sarah K. Rich}