Abigail Susik, associate professor of art history, has won the Arnold L. Graves and Lois S. Graves Award in the Humanities. The $10,000 award will fund her project, “South American Surrealism: Expanding Modernism’s Canon through Teaching and Research.”
Administered by Pomona College under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies, the Graves Award is granted biannually to faculty in the first decade of their careers to “encourage and reward outstanding accomplishment in actual teaching in the humanities.” The funding will enable Susik to conduct six weeks of research in South America, where she will visit museums, collections and historical sites during the local summer months. The results will be a new seminar course and a book chapter devoted to surrealists working in Peru, Chile and Argentina between the 1920s and the 1970s.
“Surrealism is often presented in university courses and scholarly literature as an exclusively European phenomenon,” Susik argues. Yet, while Surrealism did originate in Paris in the 1920s, it rapidly developed into a diverse international trend with representative groups in Asia, North Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, the United States, South America, and other geographic centers. She contends that international surrealism sought not only to change life through the power of the imagination, but also by fighting against racism, colonialism and fascism.
“This award reflects my commitment to serving Willamette’s students to the best of my ability by expanding my curriculum to include subjects that extend beyond my discipline’s traditionally Eurocentric viewpoint,” she says.