Assistant Professor of Art Heidi Cook completed her Ph.D. this year in the history of art and architecture at the University of Pittsburgh with advisor Barbara McCloskey. Her dissertation was titled “Picturing Peasants: Maksimilijan Vanka’s Folkloric Paintings and the ‘Croatian Question’ from Habsburg Empire to Croatian Nation-State.” Using the work of Croatian-American artist Vanka as a linking thread, her project explored how the production, circulation, and reception of objects and images related to Croatian folk culture played an active role in imagining a spectrum of competing national and imperial identities in early twentieth-century Yugoslavia. She received an American Councils Title VIII Fellowship, Foreign Language and Area Studies Academic-year Fellowships, and a Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship from the University of Pittsburgh among other grants to fund her research and writing. Her research will continue to focus on visual constructions of nationalisms and other competing political identities in the modern art, architecture, design, and cultural history of Central and Eastern Europe.
While Professor of Art Aaron Fine is on sabbatical this year, researching and writing about color theory, 2007 Truman graduate Professor Heidi Cook is filling in as Visiting Director of the University Art Gallery and teaching Art History courses as well – Non-Western Art, Contemporary Art, and Introduction to the Visual Arts. She writes:
I am a Truman alumna (German and Art History, ’07) and I am truly excited to be back on campus and working alongside the Art Historians who introduced me to the history of art and made me want to pursue it further. Teaching Art History is one of the coolest jobs. I get to spend my time reading, thinking, and talking about how artworks visualize important and changing social, historical and religious ideas across the globe and throughout history. My hope is always that I can begin to open students’ eyes to the power of their visual surroundings.
I am currently a PhD candidate (All But Dissertation) in the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. My research focuses on the modern art and design of Central and Eastern Europe. Using a body of folkloric works created by Croatian-American artist Maksimilijan Vanka as a guiding thread, my dissertation explores how objects and images related to Croatian folk culture were used to imagine a variety of competing Central European identities. In February, I am chairing a panel at the College Art Association Conference in Washington, D.C., about the relationship between European folk culture and American immigrant identity titled “Old Country in the New Country: Exhibitions, Museums, and Early Twentieth-Century American Immigration.”
If you ever want to talk about modern art in Central Europe or about applying or attending graduate school, feel free to stop by my office OP 1231 or email me at email@example.com.
We are very pleased to have Prof. Cook on campus this year, and know that students in her classes are benefiting from her knowledge and enthusiasm.