History of Art and Architecture

Undergraduate Research Summer 2014

Kaley Kilpatrick (HAA, 2015) received the Mary Ellen Callahan Undergraduate Student Research Award from the University Honors College.  She spent the summer conducting community outreach to explore museum programming for elderly individuals with dementia.  This project, overseen by Gretchen Bender, stemmed from Kaley witnessing people with dementia connecting with others, reminiscing about their past, and demonstrating authentic self-esteem while she conducted conversations about works of art at her internship with Pittsburgh’s American Jewish Museum in the spring of 2014.  As the number of Pennsylvanians with dementia is soaring, Kaley sought to experientially carry out and revise her own specialized art program, arguing for the necessity to engage this audience.  She investigated whether museum educators are attentive to individuals in society struggling with dementia or if they are unintentionally creating barriers for this population. Kaley is particularly interested in understanding how museums can become significant cornerstones within communities by providing education and outreach programming.


Abbey O’Brien (HAA, 2015) received a Summer Brackenridge Fellowship from the University Honors College to research the media’s glorification of addiction through the lives and deaths of Jackson Pollock and Jean-Michel Basquiat, a project overseen by Gretchen Bender. This project was inspired by several questions, such as: why does the value of a work instantly appreciate once an artist dies a tragic death? And, how is the glamorization of an addictive lifestyle and addiction-related death dangerous for both the artist and the audience? Over the course of the summer, Abbey thoroughly examined the lives and deaths of Pollock and Basquiat through many different opinions from various written sources, and has found an abundance of rich material from which to continue her research. She is interested in many factors pertaining to how the media portrays addiction, such as the sexualization of the addicted body, the glorification of tragic death, and the societal enabling of dangerous behaviors. She is currently interested in expanding her research into an honors thesis paper, either focusing on the sexualization of addiction through photography or the commodification of these artists through their risqué lifestyles and behaviors.


Meghan Hipple received the Brackenridge Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship from the Honors College for the summer to continue her research begun in the course Configuring Disciplines, where she studied architectural treatises from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Over the summer Meghan studied the effects of the writing of Roman engineer and architect Vitruvius on the formation of the discipline of architecture. She specifically focused on his theories about temple building, symmetry, and proportion, which he expressed through his Vitruvian man ideal-- that man can fit harmoniously inside the square and circle. She studied this idea and its visual representation throughout architectural history in the rewriting of the Vitruvius’s text, The Ten Books of Architecture, during the Renaissance by many, many architects and architectural theorists. Meghan looked specifically at a version by Milanese engineer, Cesare Cesarino from 1512, and the visual images he used to illustrate Vitruvius’s written theory. She also studied the written work of French architect Le Corbusier and his use of the Vitruvian Man ideals in his visual oeuvre through his creation of The Modulor Man. Part of her project also involved assisting in the installation of the exhibition Configuring Disciplines: Fragments of an Encyclopedia, displaying the many different research projects of the students from the Configuring Discipline seminar.


Daniel Augenbraun received a Brackenridge Summer Research Fellowship from the University Honors College, which allowed him to begin work on his honors thesis project. During the semester prior, he enrolled in a service-learning course offered by the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Pittsburgh Assistance Center for Educators and Students (PACES, https://www.pittsburghaces.org/) entitled Encounters: Teaching Art History. This gave Daniel the unique opportunity to plan and implement lessons—both in class and site visits—at local magnet school Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy (SciTech). During this class, he was inspired by how the act of physically encountering and interacting with art can stimulate the minds of young students. He spent the summer evaluating Encounters, looking specifically at how he could create a similar course that can be offered yearly to the undergraduates in the department. Daniel’s time was spent brainstorming possible lesson plans and reading art education theory. At the end of the summer he decided on the theme of the class: Pittsburgh Community Art Projects. This fall semester, Daniel plans on reaching out to local artists and community leaders who may have an interest in becoming involved. Ultimately, he plans to graduate with a completed syllabus for the course.