Art History students train in original research and examine ‘mystery objects’ from Leo Steinberg print collection

Monday, October 11, 2021
By Cami Yates

Photo by Lauren Macknight

Art History students come into the major hoping and expecting to learn more about, well, art and its history. But what does it mean to actually get your hands on different works of art, conduct research and make your own judgements?

Art History Assistant Professor Adele Nelson worked with Holly Borham, the Blanton Museum of Art’s associate curator of prints and drawings, during the spring semester to give Nelson’s students access to cultivate skills in original research and created a final project assignment that asked students to examine “mystery objects” from the Leo Steinberg print collection.

Nasim Abdi, a fourth-year Biochemistry and Art History major, worked on a print by an unknown creator that depicts a bust of a woman with wind-blown hair. She persuasively identified it as based on a Sir Joshua Reynolds painting titled Ariadne, and she considered several possible creators, ultimately concluding the print was made by the painter’s son. Abdi said this project gave her insight on what it would be like to have a career as an art historian and helped her better understand art historical methods.

“This project made me feel a lot more confident in the work I was doing. I think at times original research can feel discouraging because you sift through thousands of images and pages of text only to often come out empty handed, but to hear that it is normal and part of the process really helped me develop a sense of patience and appreciation for the work.”

Photo by Lauren Macknight

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