Meg’s Art + Architecture Tour de Spain
ArtsÉtoile is delighted to introduce summer intern Meg Emmitt, an art history M.A. candidate, who will be reporting from Spain this summer while she researches Catalan identity in Spanish art and architecture. If you liked Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona, you will surely enjoy Meg’s scholarly contributions and photo-blogging – stay tuned for weekly updates!
Graduate Summer Research Project Statement
By Meg Emmitt
My initial fascination with the art world began in high school in rural New Jersey, about 40 miles west of New York City, where I grew up. I attended a progressive private school in which exploration of one’s artistic potential as well as local community outreach were strongly encouraged. I was particularly interested in painting murals, helping create two large scale works for local charity auctions. My decision to study art in college, and in fact my current research, were inspired by my extensive travels in Spain during high school. I travelled to Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, San Sebastian and Zaragoza and became enamored by the people and unique cultures of these locations.
Following high school, I attended Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania where I majored in Studio Art/Art History and Spanish. I was also a division one athlete, playing soccer all four years of college. After college, I moved to NYC where I worked as a personal trainer for a year, before taking a job at my high school alma mater coaching soccer and working in the development office. I furthered my knowledge of the Spanish language through classes at NYU’s school of continuing and professional studies. My yearning to continue my education in art led me to apply to graduate school and, after visiting San Francisco and meeting with Richard Mann, I knew that the small, intimate learning environment of this program would be a perfect fit for me.
My research during the first semester involved an in depth analysis of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and was inspired by my first trip to the city in the summer of 1998, just after the museum had opened to the public. My main interest was the museum’s relevance to the city of Bilbao, a relatively unknown territory to many travelers outside of Spain and characterized by a distinct, regional identity. I sought out to answer a series of questions: Does the architecture overwhelm the art inside? Does the concept of the museum fit into the local landscape? Do the exhibitions and art programs engage the local population?
My second semester research dealt with another province of Spain characterized by a history of struggle for autonomous status. I explored the way in which Catalan artists used the female image during the Spanish Civil War to express private feelings of anguish, as well as to garner public support for the Republic’s cause. Specifically, I looked at the work of Joan Miro and his images of monstrous, distorted women in comparison to the female images created by Picasso, Dali, and Gonzalez, during the war. I argued that Miro’s women, seen specifically in his pastels from 1934, do not fit in with the typical representation of the female as either a helpless victim of war or a heroic defender of her country. Miro’s female images must be recognized as not simply a regurgitation of surrealist symbolism, but must be understood in their own unique, light.
After exploring an individual artist using traditional iconography as a methodology, I hope to return to my study of museum practices next year and in my final thesis paper. I would like to expand my research of the Guggenheim in Bilbao by including possibly two other institutions located in autonomous, Spanish regions. I am fascinated by the people I have encountered in both Bilbao and Barcelona and their intense pride in their provincial heritage. Therefore, I would like to explore how the Joan Miro Foundation, a museum founded by an artist with a fierce commitment to his Catalan roots and dedicated to the support of contemporary art, interacts with the local community. I also hope to explore the same issue at a third institution, possibly the Valencia Institute of Modern Art, and compare and contrast my findings. This research will be more narrowly defined following my month long visit to Spain this summer and I will return to campus next semester hopefully invigorated by this firsthand experience.
Filed under: education, modern art, museums, travel, Uncategorized | 10 Comments
Tags: architecture, Barcelona, Bilbao, Catalan, Dali, Gonzalez, Guggenheim, Joan Miro, Madrid, Meg Emmit, museum, Picasso, San Sebastien, Spain, Valencia Institute of Modern Art, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Zaragoza