In November 2022, Dr. Ashley Lindeman defended her dissertation, “L’Arte Murale: Modern Italian Muralism in the Age of Fascism, 1932-1945,” under the supervision of Dr. Adam Jolles. Dr. Lindeman’s research focuses on the terminology and materiality related to murals that were commissioned by the Italian fascist government. She considers the public murals made for schools, post offices, train stations, fascist administrative buildings, and temporary exhibition spaces as complicating our understanding of Italian modernisms. Focusing on such artists as Massimo Campigli, Enrico Prampolini, Gino Severini, and Mario Sironi, her dissertation demonstrates how modern muralism shifts throughout the 1930s and 1940s in Italy and how those alterations relate to political, social, imperialistic, and artistic issues and debates.
Ashley was first inspired to write about modern Italian muralism because of her discovery of Benedetta Cappa Marinetti’s Futurist murals for the Palermo Post Office. In 2016 she wrote her MA thesis on those murals entitled Sintesi delle comunicazioni (Synthesis of Communications) at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Since coming to FSU and working with Dr. Jolles, her research expanded, and she discovered that the terminology surrounding modern muralism was a gap in the existing scholarship and allowed her to make a major contribution to the field.
Dr. Jolles writes:
“The resurgence of muralism has long been an important, but understudied arena within late modernism, and art historians have struggled to reconcile the starkly different ways in which they have been used. On the one hand, especially recently, murals have functioned as focal points for community protest and collective memory. On the other, they have served as a principal platform for the modern, corporate state’s programmatic projection of political ideology. Ashley’s dissertation makes a significant contribution to this latter body of research by examining how murals came to be understood as an effective vehicle for galvanizing the public in Italy under Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime.
What makes Ashley’s research so noteworthy is the way she has systematically reconstructed how artists and bureaucrats reconceptualized muralism during the roughly two decades Mussolini was in power. She has uncovered how some of the best-known artists of the era—Campigli, Prampolini, Severini, and Sironi—endeavored not just to serve the new regime and its ambitions. She shows how these figures—sometimes in concert, but often at odds with one another—deliberated about the ways in which novel imaging technologies and a highly politicized iconography might be integrated into commissioned decorations for public venues. In so doing, she uncovers the sudden appearance of a dynamic terminology that infused both new media and archaic practices like fresco and mosaic with contemporary political and social relevance. As Ashley also reveals, a significant aspect of this development was how the corpus of largescale decorative, public works produced during this period telegraphed the nation’s imperial aspirations.”
Dr. Lindeman’s dissertation research was funded by the Penelope Mason Dissertation Research Award and the Friends of Art History Research Award. She was a Patricia Rose Teaching Fellow, teaching survey classes for the department, and she was the inaugural recipient of the Art History International Programs Teaching Appointment at the FSU Florence Study Center in 2017. She taught in Italy in summers 2017 and 2018, and in fall 2019 during her major research trip. Dr. Lindeman has presented at several national and international conferences including Modernist Studies Association, College Art Association, Midwest Art History Society, American Association for Italian Studies, the KU History of Art Graduate Student Symposium, and the FSU Art History Graduate Student Symposium.
In 2022, Dr. Lindeman taught classes at several local colleges and universities in the greater Kansas City area. She was selected to be the Emerging Curator at PLUG Gallery in Kansas City, for which she curated Muralism: Inside Out, an exhibition that merged the worlds of public art and the private gallery by focusing on contemporary Kansas City muralists. She also accepted a position at Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts as the Arts Program Resource Leader. In that position she builds community partnerships in the Kansas City arts, researches grant and internship opportunities for students, and organizes master classes and field trips to art museums, theatrical performances, and concerts. She is also working on a chapter for the forthcoming book The Visual is Political: Gender, Art and Power, in collaboration with college and fellow FSU alumna Dr. Rachel Fesperman.
Ashley writes that her favorite experiences as a graduate student were teaching and researching in Italy:
“I have such fond memories of teaching and researching in Italy during my graduate studies. Sharing my knowledge and passion for art history in Florence and other Italian cities to undergraduates was life changing. One day I was lecturing three feet away from Michelangelo’s David and the next day I had taken a train to La Spezia to hunt down a post office mural at the top of a secluded stairwell. On the third day I was digging through the archives of my favorite modern artists. In Italy it always feels like the possibilities are endless, and this is the reason that I became an art historian in the first place.”