Art History Doctoral Candidate, Cambra Sklarz, presented at the Getty Graduate Symposium on February 3, 2023

etty Graduate Symposium2023The Getty Research Institute hosted the fifth annual Getty Graduate Symposium, which showcased the work of emerging scholars from art history graduate programs across California. Organized into three sessions, the symposium included nine individual presentations, panel discussions moderated by faculty mentors, and Q&A sessions with the audience. 

Congratulations to Cambra Sklarz for being recognized for her outstanding work.

Cambra’s presentations, The Artist and the Ecosystem: Strategies for the Use and Reuse of Materials in Early America can be viewed online via the Getty Research Institute’s YouTube channel:

The full program can be found here.




It is our great pleasure to share that PhD candidate, Molly Bond, will present on her research at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022 at 5:30 am PDT (2:30 pm GMT+2)
In person at the Palazzo Grifoni (Florence) and online
Meeting-ID: 954 7537 4245

Spaces of Relief Sculpture: Embodied Spectatorship and the Late Cinquecento “Recanati School”

Recanto School, Molly Bond TalkIn 1564 Florentine monk and intellectual Vincenzo Borghini deemed basso rilievo the ‘dolce amaro’ of the arts: ‘sweet’ because sculptors might approach the capacity of painting to depict elements of an istoria, but also ‘bitter’ because relief could neither render a convincing painterly illusion of depth nor offer the multiple views of sculpture in the round.  Borghini’s opinion of relief as a kind of ‘imperfect hybrid’ (Ostrow 2004, 336) is far from unique: indeed, such ambivalence typifies most writings on relief—themselves very few and far between—from the early modern period.  Yet, as uneasy as art theoreticians were with this art form, relief permeated the built environment and daily lives of contemporary Italians, as it invested objects ranging from monumental architectural façades to miniature plaquettes.  A partial and ‘imperfect’ amalgamation of painting and sculpture perhaps, but such in-betweenness allowed reliefs to use the means of both in order to engage viewers across an incredibly broad array of socio-spatial contexts.  Foregrounding the idea of embodied spectatorship, my presentation will examine both textual accounts and artifacts that respond to particular aspects of such interaction, including that of a spectator’s mobility, tactile engagement, and the changeable environments that conditioned their encounters with relief sculpture.  While similar, phenomenologically-oriented approaches have been fruitfully applied to the study of Renaissance sculpture in the round and even painting, these concerns remain underexplored with respect to relief sculpture.  Here the production of the late 16th-century ‘Recanati School’ of bronze casters will form my primary case study: not only did these artists develop an unusually strong tradition of bronze relief, but their work spanned a wide variety of different socio-religious spaces—from doors, to chapel walls, to statue bases—in and around the Basilica della Santa Casa di Loreto.

THOMAS PELZEL, Professor of Art History – In Memoriam

Thomas Pelzel Meng Title PageThomas Pelzel, a professor of Art History during the early years of the university, died on July 3, 2022. Born in West Virginia in 1927, he completed his PhD at Princeton University in 1968 before coming to UCR. Tom served for many years – by special demand and vocal entreaties by colleagues and students – as Undergraduate Advisor but also for a period as Chair. His dissertation on the German painter Anton Raphael Mengs and Neo-Classicism became a book, and he published several important articles on the subject as well. The study of European art and theory of the neoclassical period remained his main field of scholarly work.

Intensive research on his dissertation brought him to Europe, especially to Germany and Italy, and his life there for an extended time deeply shaped his work and cultural affinities. Speaking German almost like a local, he acclimatized easily to the history, art, and mores of Southern Germany. His lectures and seminars on Bavarian and Austrian rococo churches and castles became a highlight of his teaching at UCR. Gifted with a rich language and a lively, often witty, style of performance he became one of the most popular undergraduate teachers at UCR, always commanding a full lecture hall. No one could walk young students, then mostly from California and before the digital age, so vividly through a Bavarian rococo church or the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. His lectures and seminars were always based upon meticulous research and a broad knowledge of culture and history. Whenever he appeared in the offices of the department, Tom was immediately surrounded by clusters of students. He gave his advice and guidance generously and far beyond the narrow restraints of office hours. When news came of his planned retirement, students organized a petition to ask him to continue teaching.

During his years at UCR Tom was not only a devoted teacher, but served tirelessly on various university committees. As he had studied the eighteenth-century culture of Europe he now turned with the same enthusiasm to the history of California and became an avid connoisseur and collector of Stickley furniture and the arts and crafts of the period. His collection of chairs hung, neatly organized, from the ceiling of his garage, but he would generously loan one or another to newly arrived colleagues to help furnish their empty apartments. In addition to furniture, he was an avid collector of European prints and art nouveau ceramics.

Tom and his wife Suzanne, who also had taught for several years at UCR, retired relatively early and moved to Ashland, Oregon. In retirement, he developed his collection and walked to local productions of Shakespeare plays every season, while also witnessing from afar the expansion of the department that he had helped to foster early on.


Please join us for the in-person return of the Brink Carrot Forster-Hahn Lecture Series
Tuesday, April 26 at 5:15pm
ARTS 333

BrinkCarrotForsterHahn2022 Lecture Series


Sao Paulo Rexistir

Camilla Querin, 2021 Barbara B. Brink Travel Award

Though It is Dark, Still I Sing: Brazilian Art from the Military Dictatorship to the 34th São Paulo Biennial and Back

“Though It Is Dark, Still I Sing” is the title of the 34th São Paulo Biennial. It is a sentence that encapsulates also the somber atmosphere and the defiant attitude that artists displayed  during the military dictatorship in Brazil, producing artworks to illuminate the socio-political situation and express dissent. In this presentation I will talk about my visit to the Biennial and the interviews I conducted with artists and curators in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, which allowed me to collect important information to conclude my dissertation that looks at artistic practices of resistance during the authoritarian regime.





Jesse Rocha, 2021 Richard G. Carrott Travel Award

Emotional Histories and Documentation in the ACT UP Archives

The Richard G. Carrott award allowed me to travel to New York City in September 2021, where I worked with materials in the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. These objects included posters, stickers, and video records from AIDS activist groups ACT UP and Gran Fury. In particular, the video objects sparked my interest, as they reflected the emotional histories, social textures, and documentary impulses of a generation of artists and activists. My presentation will discuss how this research trip has influenced my thesis work on gay male artists in 1980’s Brazil.



Ephemera from Gang of CarpHomer Charles Arnold,  2021 Françoise Forster-Hahn Travel Award

Popping up: How CARP Invented the Itinerant Gallery in Los Angeles

During the 1970s, the exhibition initiative Carp produced revolutionary pop-up exhibitions throughout California. Working in response to the decade’s pluralism, Carp’s directors Barbara Burden and Marilyn Nix jettisoned traditional exhibition practices utilizing singular gallery spaces in favor of multiple sites including television stations and Wilshire Boulevard. Their approach invented the postmodern curator by attending to both the artwork and its site. My project reveals how Burden and Nix generated an exhibition format that became standardized. Carp’s archive is currently held in Redding, California. Access to these materials, made possible by the Forster-Hahn award, revealed the scope of Carp’s projects. 


Hot off the Presses: “The Human Being in American Art: A Transatlantic Book Launch”

We are pleased to announce an unconventional book launch celebrating the publication of Humans, a book about the history and future of the idea of the human being in American Art and Culture.

Wednesday, April 20 from 9:00-10:30am
Register at:


Edited by Laura Bieger (University of Groningen), Joshua Shannon (University of Maryland), and Jason Weems (University of California Riverside)

Volume 5 of Terra Foundation Essays, Terra Foundation/University of Chicago Press, 2022


Humans are organisms, but “the human being” is a term referring to a complicated, self-contradictory, and historically evolving set of concepts and practices. Humans explores competing versions, constructs, and ideas of the human being that have figured prominently in the arts of the United States. These essays consider a range of artworks from the colonial period to the present, examining how they have reflected, shaped, and modeled ideas of the human in American culture and politics. The book addresses to what extent artworks have conferred more humanity on some human beings than others, how art has shaped ideas about the relationships between humans and other beings and things, and in what ways different artistic constructions of the human being evolved, clashed, and intermingled over the course of American history. Humans both tells the history of a concept foundational to US civilization and proposes new means for its urgently needed rethinking. Authors include Alan Braddock (William & Mary), Jessica Horton (University of Delaware), Michael Leja (University of Pennsylvania), Caroline Arscott (Courtauld Institute of Art), Larne Abse Gogarty (University College London), Jean-Phillipe Antoine (Paris 8 University), and Cherise Smith (University of Texas Austin).

Each of the volume’s authors will speak for five minutes in response to the questions below, before the event opens to audience discussion: What concepts of “the human” are needed now? What does it mean–and what does it take–to be human today? What role can art play in fostering the roles and understandings of the human being necessary now? What can we do now (as scholars, as members of society) to shape humanity for the future?

Wednesday, April 20 at 9:00 PDT (12:00 EDT, 17:00 BST, 18:00 CEST)
This is a VIRTUAL event

Sponsored by the Center for Ideas and Society, University of California, Riverside
Co-sponsored by the Research Center for the Study of Democratic Cultures and Politics, University of Groningen; and the Potomac Center for the Study of Modernity, University of Maryland


Join us for the in-person return of the Work in Progress lecture series
Wednesday, March 2, 2002 @ 11:00am
ARTS Seminar Room 333

Concrete and Steel: Artists in Industrial Brazil
Dr. Aleca Le Blanc, Professor of Art History

Work in Progress Series -- Aleca Le BlancAlthough urban dwellers would have had to contend with the inconveniences associated with large-scale municipal projects, they also would have witnessed the engineering of new landscapes and the speed with which steel beams, poured concrete and panes of glass were assembled into museums, apartment blocks, and recreational buildings. It was in this visual context that some began to question the ontological limits of the art object and conceptualize projects at the scale of the newly built environments. In Lygia Clark’s work from the mid-1950s, she proposed moving her geometric compositions from the easel to the interior walls of the modern buildings under construction, documenting her environmental compositions with architectural maquettes in 1956. She went so far as to renounce her career as an artist—temporarily — while campaigning for the integration of visual art and architecture. Similarly, Abraham Palatnik also wanted to visually activate these new interior spaces, although for him it happened with colored light. Utilizing his training as a mechanical engineer, he built mechanized light boxes that projected a sequence of chromatic compositions generated by a system of pulleys, gears, levers, and lightbulbs contained within. In São Paulo, Geraldo de Barros produced an enormous photographic series, Fotoformas (1946-1951). Like Palatnik in Rio, light was often his subject-matter, although for Barros it was the natural light refracting through different building materials and architectural features, like textured glass or open doors. Often the light and shadows are so stark that they create compositions of geometric abstraction, a phenomenon that would become increasingly common as the city became progressively vertical. This talk demonstrates some of the ways that artists reimagined the possibilities of architecture amid a building frenzy.