The Wolfsonian-Florida International University Fellowship program in 2010-2011 will highlight the great range of potential research opportunities offered by The Wolfsonian’s collection. For the first time, the program will have a thematic focus – research on the links between design and health in the modern era. Scholars were called upon to consider the ideas of design and health from a broad perspective: “Design” to include a range of practices, such as product design, graphic design, interior design, architecture, and urban planning; and “Health” to include such concerns as personal hygiene and fitness, public health, medicine, body image, and disability.
“We are very enthusiastic about this shift in the program, and what kinds of synergy may result from the research focusing on one area of inquiry,” says Sarah Schleuning, Wolfsonian curator and administrator of the Fellowship program. “We’re also pleased that one of the fellows selected by the external review panel, Monica Obniski, was a curatorial intern at The Wolfsonian during the summer of 2004.”
Since its inception in 1995, The Wolfsonian’s Fellowship program has hosted more than seventy scholars from colleges, universities, and museums in the United States and many foreign countries. Research conducted during the program has contributed to articles, book chapters, museum exhibitions, university courses, and more. With the help of a panel of distinguished external reviewers, The Wolfsonian has selected three fellows, each of whom will be in residence at the museum for three to four weeks.
This year’s fellows are Elizabeth Lee (Assistant Professor, Art & Art History at Dickinson College); Monica Obniski (Ph.D. Candidate, Art History, University of Illinois, Chicago) ; and Sarah Louise Schrank (Associate Professor, History, California State University, Long Beach).
Elizabeth Lee will visit The Wolfsonian to conduct research and contribute to the first chapter of a book-length study titled Therapeutic Culture: Health and Illness in Turn-of-the-Century American Art, which examines the relationship between health, disease, and illness in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century American art. Using The Wolfsonian’s varied resources related to health, hygiene, and fitness, as well as travel and health resorts, Lee will focus her time here on how health was defined in America at the turn of the twentieth century. She will explore the definition of health at the time, who was considered healthy, the health practices advocated by doctors, health reformers, and physical culture enthusiasts, and how these themes intersect with artistic practice.
Monica Obniski will utilize The Wolfsonian’s collections to study sunlight’s relationship to modernism, the body, and ideas of outdoor living, and how it played a critical role in notions of health in early twentieth century designed spaces. Her research will concentrate on the intersection between sunlight and architecture and on the physical culture approach to the consumption of sunlight and its effect on health.
Sarah Louise Schrank will conduct research on nudist suburban home design from 1920 to 1960. The theme is one component of a more comprehensive project on alternative health practices, body cultism, and modern urban living in twentieth century America. She has previously spent time at the museum working with the library’s Robert J. Young collection of periodicals, and plans to continue that work to include the collection’s holdings of Bernarr Macfadden’s Physical Culture magazine and other library items.
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