Research Overview

Faculty Research in Art and Art History

The faculty of the Department of Art and Art History specialize in research and creative activity in a variety of fields. This page provides brief overviews of our faculty’s creative activity and research interests, with links to their profile pages for more information.

a faculty member seated in front of full bookshelves
Dr. Lucy Curzon, Associate Professor of Art History, and Director of Education and Outreach for the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art.

Art History

Dr. Wendy Castenell’s research focuses on African American art, portraiture, gender studies, representations of race and ethnicity in American visual culture, film history and theory, and cross-cultural contact. Her current book project is “Creole Identity in the Art of the American South: Louisiana from the Colonial Era to Reconstruction.”

Dr. Lucy Curzon’s research focuses on national identity and visual culture, particularly relating to the interwar, wartime and early postwar periods in Great Britain. She has also published on contemporary portrait painting. In 2018, she received the Historians of British Artist Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period after 1800 for her book, Mass-Observation and Visual Culture: Depicting Everyday Lives in Britain (Routledge).

Dr. Jennifer Feltman’s research focuses on the ways in which works of medieval art, whether architecture, sculpture, or manuscripts, intersect with aspects of culture, such as intellectual history, religious practice and political discourse. Her research interests include the reuse and adaptation of sculpture, medieval eschatology in visual art, the education of the clergy in the thirteenth century, and the relation of practices of memory and visual exegesis in the creation of sculptural programs. Her forthcoming book is Moral Theology and the Cathedral: Sculptural Programs of the Last Judgment in France, c.1200-1240 (Brepols).

Dr. Tanja L. Jones’ research focuses on the fifteenth-century courts of northern Italy, particularly the Gonzaga court in Mantua, innovations in personal commemoration, and objects demonstrating intersections between the courts of Italy, France, and Byzantium. Her current book-length project addresses the emergence of the cast bronze portrait medal in the 1430s and the political, religious, and ideological value the small-scale sculpted form conveyed. She is co-principal investigator of the digital humanities project

Dr. Mina Kim’s research focuses on Korean art, modern and contemporary Korean art, East Asian visual and material culture, East Asian modern and contemporary art, multimedia and digital art, global modern and contemporary art, transdisciplinarity in art and science/mathematics/physics, cross- or intercommunication between art and science, East Asian/Asian art and religion, cross-communications: art and society in East Asia/global world, and mapping east and west: art, society and politics.

Dr. Rachel Stephens’ research focuses on nineteenth-century American art, specifically antebellum southern art; race, representation and slavery; and Jacksonian-era portraiture. Her book, Selling Andrew Jackson: Ralph E. W. Earl and the Politics of Portraiture (University of South Carolina Press, 2018) explores the critical role of Earl and his dozens of portraits of Jackson within the circle and career of Old Hickory. Her current book project investigates the implications of abolitionism and pro-slavery justification on antebellum visual culture.

Dr. Doris Sung’s research focuses on modern and contemporary art of East Asia, cultural interactions between Asia and Europe, and gender and visual culture. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled “Redefining Female Talent: Chinese Women Artists in the National and Global Art Worlds of the Early Twentieth Century.” The book examines the contribution of three generations of Chinese women artists to the art reform and shifting gender positioning in early-twentieth-century China. It enriches and challenges existing narratives of nationalism, global interactions and gender relations of the era. Dr. Sung is also a visual artist, and an independent curator. She has curated exhibitions on the works of Chinese-Canadian women artists, new art of the Asian diasporas and experimental calligraphy.

Studio Art

Professor Jonathan Cumberland has an active practice in design and illustration, with clients such as Women’s Wear Daily, Scholastic Magazine, Mississippi Tourism Association and Charleston Magazine. He currently focuses on creating digital posters that employ visual metaphors to address issues surrounding the environment, human rights and cultural events. Recently, his work has been selected for international poster exhibitions, including in China, Poland, Belarus and Mexico. Cumberland has garnered awards and recognition from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Creative Quarterly and the Tuscaloosa American Advertising Federation.

faculty member, seated, has his photo taken by students
Students practice portrait photos on Professor Bill Dooley in his Woods Hall studio.

Professor William Dooley’s studio research in painting and drawing explores the effects of compression and concentration, of pigment, line, form, and other elements, including the visual assertiveness wielded by a small artwork, a force often many times larger than its object reality. As director of the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art and longtime consultant for Rural Studio, an outreach architectural program for Auburn University located in Hale County, Ala., he brings expertise in curatorial, artistic and museum practices to his teaching.

As an artist, educator and curator, Professor Allison Grant brings expertise in the fields of photography, curation and art criticism. She has exhibited at the DePaul Art Museum, Azimuth Projects, Packer Schopf Gallery and the Weston Art Gallery, among others. Her works are held in public collections at DePaul Art Museum (Chicago), Columbia College Chicago, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and 4-Culture (Seattle, Wash.). Her essays have appeared in Minding Nature Journal, Paradise Wavering by Alice Hargrave, as well as numerous exhibition catalogs.

As a sculptor, Professor Jamey Grimes explores the sometimes overwhelming and awe-inspiring relationship between viewer and nature in his larger-than-life sculptures, which often show the influence of his interest in biology. “The objects and environments that I create are fueled by encounters with natural forces, both real and imagined,” Grimes notes. With synthetic materials, often plastic, he manipulates them into forms that he hopes will “engulf the viewer in an experience that is simultaneously unsettling and serene. My intent is to remind one of their relationship and scale to the forces of nature.” Grimes uses synthetics materials because “they have been cleansed of nature’s direct influence and reset by human manufacturing processes. Through abstraction and re-interpretation, patterns emerge from the medium and quickly emulate more complex natural designs.”

Professor Jason Guynes works extensively in oil on canvas and with drawing media, and for the past twenty years, his primary focus has been murals. He has completed both private and public commissions throughout the United States with major commissions in Mesa, Ariz.; Joplin, Mo., Philadelphia, Pa., Livingston, Ala. and Mobile, Ala. A recent mural project was the Moulton Bell Tower Mural for the University of South Alabama. He is Past President of SECAC, the second largest arts organization of its kind in the US.

Professor Christopher Jordan creates imagery of both real and imaginary places in his landscape photography. Jordan specializes in both analog and digital processes, finding resonance in how creativity unfolds through technology. Jordan has exhibited nationally and internationally, and his work is held in numerous private collections. His recent book, Nowhere in Place, explores the way mindful meditation informs an artist’s vision.

As a ceramic sculptor, Professor Wade MacDonald explores the intersection of ceramics, digital fabrication, furniture design and architecture. He and his work have been profiled in American Craft Magazine (August/September 2018) and in 2018, he received the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Emerging Artist Award. He has exhibited nationally and has held artist residencies at Anderson Ranch Art Center, in Snowmass, Colo.; Banff Centre, in Banff, Alberta; and the Red Lodge Clay Center in Red Lodge, Mt.

Professor Sarah Marshall is interested in how everyday experiences are constructed and recorded in the human mind. Her work explores the links between direct sensory encounters and a rich history of belief, imagination, and memory. Plant forms, animal forms and the figure reference the physical world. Manipulated words and letterforms, and references to language and translation suggest the complexities of human thought, learning and behavior. She often works with appropriated source imagery, cutting apart and recombining elements, and abstracting them through simplification, repetition, and layering. Her attraction to the multiple comes from the possibility of infinite variation as much as infinite repeatability, and a family of related images often replaces the edition in her studio practice. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and is included in public and private collections.

Professor Pete Schulte’s studio practice is rooted in drawing and includes the integration of sculpture, site-specific wall drawings and installations. He has exhibited internationally and nationally. Schulte was artist in residence at the Chinati Foundation in 2019, and in 2017 was named the South Arts State Fellowship recipient for Alabama.

Professor Bryce Speed describes his approach to painting: “The natural world provides many visual analogies for the great depth and mysteries of the human mind. These paintings illustrate a boundless inner life, amplified by our senses, and its extension in to the world. Fluid topographies, discontinuous scale and color suggest the expansive and conflicting systems of nature as a metaphor for the evolving self. Language further helps us understand our interactions and place in the world, but is limited in scope to define our most unexplainable experiences and interactions. Painting can connect form and idea in a way that is unique to the medium and I try to embrace this possibility in my work.” Speed has exhibited nationally and internationally including at at the Royal Scottish Academy Open Exhibition in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the North Wall Arts Center in Oxford, UK, as well as HERE Art Center in New York, NY. He is represented by the Cole Pratt Gallery in New Orleans, LA.

Professor Craig Wedderspoon’s work focuses on the examination of the intrigue of process and the potential of material to communicate thought in the expression of visual philosophy. Originally trained as a glass and crystal carver, Wedderspoon now specializes in metal and wood fabrication and works in a variety of scales for both indoor and outdoor, permanent and temporary installations and exhibitions. His creative research interests include projects geared towards community service and outreach in the West Alabama area.