Jacky O’Connor and Stephanie Bacon
Stephanie Bacon and Jacky O’Connor both have been awarded stipends from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to participate in an NEH summer institute for college and university educators, “American Material Culture: 19th Century New York.” The institute will be held for four weeks this summer at New York City’s Bard Graduate Center, which is devoted to the study of decorative arts, design history and material culture. The duo will be part of a cohort of 18 scholars visiting collections and meeting with curators and scholars who incorporate material culture in their research and teaching.
Bacon, a professor of art, and O’Connor, a professor of English, submitted separate applications outlining individual projects that align with the work of the summer institute. One of Bacon’s goals is to make use of Bard Library’s museum studies collection and the shared knowledge of the institute community to revise a special topics interdisciplinary course on exhibition design she taught last spring, and to reposition the course as a regular curricular offering. O’Connor will use the opportunity to develop specific expertise in material culture studies with a focus on domestic and institutional spaces in her next book project, “Mental States: Asylums and American Drama.”
But the two saw the crossover of their interests in object study as an opportunity to further their collaborative work for the Arts and Humanities Institute, where they effectively bridge the arts and humanities disciplines, and foster innovative interdisciplinary projects and collaborations.
“We hope to use our experience in the institute to accelerate the advancement of AHI, its gallery and its related projects,” Bacon said.
NEH summer institutes are competitive and it is extraordinary to have two people from the same institution accepted out of a national field. O’Connor has participated in two previous summer programs sponsored by the NEH, and she describes them as high points of her professional life. The synergy of the interdisciplinary cohort and subject matter, she says, “pushes you creatively and productively to reimagine your place in your field and at your institution.”
BY: CIENNA MADRID