Ph.D. candidate in Art History
- Doctoral student in Art History, University of Washington
- Master’s degree in Art History, Richmond, the American International University in London
- Study program at l’Universite Paul Valery III, Montpellier, France
- Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and French, Montana State University
- Intern at Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.
- Archivist and researcher at Morris Graves Foundation in California
- Teacher in Seoul, South Korea
- Project assistant at Victoria and Albert Museum in London
- Collections assistant and copyright specialist at Henry Art Gallery in Seattle
- Collections manager at Jacob Lawrence Gallery in Seattle
- Assistant to the Director, Department of Antique Prints, Davidson Galleries in Seattle
You’ve seen their names memorialized on campus buildings, but have you ever wondered how Suzzallo, Meany, Denny, Padelford and many others made their mark on the UW—or, for that matter, what they looked like? Now you can find out through an exhibit curated by Jennifer, on view until June 1 in the 2nd and 3rd floor gallery spaces at Odegaard Undergraduate Library.
The elegant portraits that compose “Who’s Who: Founding Faces of the UW” recall the turn of the 20th century, when the UW’s campus, newly relocated from downtown Seattle, was just one building amid thick forest, muddy swamps, and farmland.
All of the former faculty members on display were visionaries in their own right. Most arrived in then-fledgling Seattle—some from as far away as the East Coast, which was no small feat in that era—with accomplished scholarly backgrounds. They went on to found many of the key departments that anchor the UW today and launched what became a long-term campus commitment to research, leadership, and scholarly excellence. Two of the portrait artists also have UW connections: Morgan Padelford, son of former Graduate School dean and English professor Frederick Padelford, painted a few, as did Walter Isaacs, the first head of the UW art department.
Several of the works had been living in the basement of the UW library’s special collections for years. In collaboration with Kris Anderson, director of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery on campus, and Christopher Landman, director of advancement for humanities at the College of Arts and Sciences, Jennifer brought the large, ornately framed canvases out of hiding and also chose specific portraits from other departments on campus.
Along the way, Jennifer relished the chance to delve deeply into sometimes-forgotten memories of the campus and its pioneers. “It was fascinating to go back to its roots,” she said, and her enthusiasm for both art and history is evident to those lucky enough to tour the gallery with her.
Graduate school focus
Jennifer specializes in 19th and 20th century art from Britain, the United States, and the European continent. She is especially interested in the Victorian era (1837-1901) and how the development of photography affected the art world and changed the way people communicate.
“My dissertation analyzes the intersection of photography and celebrity in the 1860s, when photographic images became cheaper and more reproducible and were assumed to represent a scientific ‘truth’ that gave photography a tremendous authority,” Jennifer said. “I analyze how people utilized this authority in their favor to transcend social class and create constructed international personas.”
Jennifer hopes to teach, work in museum administration and leadership, and act as a freelance curator and researcher. “My career possibilities are actually quite varied because of my education and work experience, and I don’t see any of these opportunities being mutually exclusive,” she said.
The UW’s advantage
After completing her master’s degree in London, Jennifer lived and worked abroad for three years in the art realm. “I realized that a Ph.D. would make me much more competitive in my field,” she said. She chose the UW because she wanted to study with Dr. Susan Casteras, a renowned scholar of 19th and 20th century art. She also knew that Seattle would provide a quality of life that she valued.
On the challenges of graduate education
Jennifer admits that funding her studies “is a continuous challenge.” She has worked multiple jobs during her UW graduate school career, which has taken time away from her research but provided insight, experience and new professional opportunities.
“Balancing the need to work and support myself through school with the requirements of a competitive degree is always a challenge,” Jennifer said.
“I grew up on a ranch in Montana, a fairly adventurous way to begin a life!” Jennifer said. Since then, her educational pursuits have taken her on adventures around the world. As a student she moved from Montana to France, where she realized she could make a career in art history. Her international travels then took her to England, back to the United States, to Asia, and back to England again before, finally, ending up in Seattle and the UW.
Advice for prospective graduate students
“Take time to work and find out what you are really interested in,” Jennifer said. “It will make your graduate degree more valuable to you personally and will also elucidate the opportunities available outside of the classroom.”
Photo by Anne Broache