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Home » News » 40 years of symposia: FSU art history celebrates original graduate student research

40 years of symposia: FSU art history celebrates original graduate student research

Published February 28, 2024


A group of smiling graduate students pose on a staircase

(Clockwise from top left) Symposium committee members Tanya Pattison, Maddie Gilmore-Duffey, Brooke Belcher, Emma Huston, Jessica Salaun, Hudson Kauffman and Serena D’Alessandro.

Florida State University’s Department of Art History will celebrate 40 years of symposia featuring graduate students’ original research within all areas of study, from art and architectural history to visual and material culture.

The 40th Annual Art History Graduate Student Symposium will take place from 1:30-6 p.m. Friday, March 1, and from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2, in the William Johnston Building, room 2005. The event is part of the College of Fine Arts anniversary celebration.

“For four decades, the Department of Art History has fostered the future of the discipline by hosting this student-focused conference and bringing internationally acclaimed scholars to our campus as keynote speakers,” said James Frazier, dean of the College of Fine Arts. “We look forward to many more years of celebrating and supporting these emerging scholars.”

Inaugurated in 1981, the annual event brings together students, professors and members of the community to share ideas and expertise. Students from around the country are invited to present their research in 20-minute talks followed by a Q&A with the audience, with opportunities for further discussion in social gatherings throughout the event.

Since 2020, the event has been organized by the Graduate Student Symposium Committee, a rotating elected group of art history master’s and doctoral students, three of whom serve as session chairs.

“The student committee has really taken the lead in planning the symposium,” said Jean Hudson, assistant chair of the Department of Art History. “This is a completely student-centered conference. We’re proud of the long tradition and the way the event has evolved and especially proud of our students who work so hard to bring it together.”

As an aspiring professional in art history, doctoral student Emma Huston emphasized the importance of the themes and subjects covered in the symposium.

An auditorium full of people listen to a speaker giving a presentation

Claire Farago from the University of Colorado Boulder speaks during the 36th Annual Graduate Student Symposium to attendees, March 2019.

“Research and innovation in terms of art history is overlooked sometimes,” Huston said. “As art historians, we study the ways in which humanity understands their existence through material and visual culture. The more we can understand each other’s existence, the more we can work together for a better future.”

This year’s keynote speaker is Richard J. Powell, the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History at Duke University. His presentation “Blackbeats: Cubism Reimagined” will be held at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 1 in the William Johnston Building, room 2005.

A man in a suit poses for a photo in front of a fountain

Richard J. Powell, the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History at Duke University, will present “Blackbeats: Cubism Reimagined” at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 1 in WJB, room 2005.

Powell is a leading scholar in African American art and culture. His research focuses on American art, the arts of the African diaspora and contemporary visual studies. He was recently awarded the National Humanities Center Spring 2024 Fellowship for his presentation in the A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts series “Colorstruck! Painting, Pigment, Affect.”

“When students are exposed to great scholars, it opens their eyes to the greater network of universities and academics that they’re a part of,” Huston said. “Someone like Dr. Powell, who addresses such pertinent themes, is an excellent connection for them.”

Three paper sessions — Community Spaces in Focus, Meaning and Materiality, and Navigating Identity — will take place on Friday and Saturday, with a discussion after each speaker. Papers presented will be considered for inclusion in Athanor, the department’s internationally distributed, peer-reviewed journal.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit

The Art History Graduate Symposium is generously sponsored by the Dean of the College of Fine Arts and by a grant from the Congress of Graduate Students.