Congratulations to doctoral candidate Emily Thames, who has received a fellowship appointment at the Smithsonian Institution for the coming academic year. The Joe and Wanda Corn Predoctoral fellowship is a joint appointment between the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) and the National Museum of American History (NMAH). This fellowship supports scholars whose research interests span American art and American history, allowing them to draw upon the rich collections of both museums for their research.
Thames will conduct research for the advancement of her dissertation project, “The Life and Art of José Campeche: Enlightenment, Reform, and Identity in Late Eighteenth-Century Puerto Rico,” which is developed under the supervision of Dr. Paul Niell. Thames’s project focuses on José Campeche (1751-1809), a prolific artist who lived and worked in Puerto Rico during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Thames examines Campeche as an individual intricately entangled within his specific historical milieu, a simultaneous product and agent of cultural change and transformation in Puerto Rico during his lifetime. Her work considers the under-investigated significance of the artist’s race, the Hispanic Enlightenment, the Bourbon Reforms, Spanish imperial agendas, creole and proto-national identity in Puerto Rico, and the role of images in Spanish colonial societies. Thames writes,
In my exploration of these themes, I examine how Campeche, a complex Afro-Caribbean figure, negotiated and acted upon his world through his artistic production. Research conducted at the Smithsonian Institution and at other institutions located in the Washington, D.C. area, such as the Library of Congress and the National Archives, will shape and inform my analyses of Campeche’s works and will result in a more well-informed and comprehensive study of the artist and his specific historical context in Puerto Rico at the turn of the nineteenth century.