With the creation of two new endowed chair positions funded by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, Ohio State is poised to become an academic hub for the study and creation of American modernism.
Thanks to a $6 million gift from the foundation, two new positions have been created at the university: Jody Patterson has been named the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Endowed Chair of Art History, and Carmen Winant was chosen as the Roy Lichtenstein Endowed Chair of Studio Art.
Having dedicated chairs for both the theory and practice of American art at Ohio State creates “all kinds of potential” to position the university as an academic destination for both undergraduate and graduate students who want to study American modernism, Patterson said.
“The opportunity to design, develop and deliver a curriculum based in historical and modern American art means you can foster a whole new generation of scholars, from improving general literacy on often overlooked parts of the canon to generating the most sophisticated work coming out of grad school,” Patterson said. “We really can create a community that will be the future of the discipline and this particular area of study.”
Winant, a collage and installation artist entering her second year on the job this fall, has drawn on her own academic background in fine arts and critical studies to add writing and critical thinking classes for art students.
“I’ve been able to take my passions and my expertise and bring them into the department,” Winant said. “The questions have been, ‘What do you want to do? How can we strengthen the community together? How can we innovate in our classes?’ It really feels full of possibilities.”
The studio art chair position combines teaching with a dedicated research component, which makes it possible for Winant to travel to do research for her own art, to pay assistants and to afford materials that facilitate the production of her work, she said.
While Winant’s artwork is quite different from Lichtenstein’s in terms of medium and aesthetic, she considers herself “similar in spirit” to the artist. They share an experimental approach to practice, a tendency to borrow from kitsch culture and a dedication to depicting women in their environments.
Patterson cites Lichtenstein, who earned both his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Ohio State, as a pivotal figure within the development of American modernism, and said she’s fascinated by the “radical realism” of his art.
“His cartoon aesthetic both belies and enables a much more critical engagement with contemporary culture,” Patterson said. “Pop art wasn’t necessarily the collapse of a critical avant-garde but instead was very much sticking its finger in the wounds of postwar American society.”
Patterson comes to Columbus from Plymouth, England, where she headed the art history department at the University of Plymouth for seven years. Living in Columbus puts Patterson in closer proximity to the important American art collections, archives and libraries located in New York City and Washington, D.C., central to her research.
A key aspect of the endowment is it encourages Patterson and Winant to invite emerging and senior scholars and artists to visit the university, the chairs said, providing vital and dynamic opportunities in the study of American art.
“I’ve been able to use my resources to bring in people who can be in the same room as students,” Winant said, “so we’re not just showing slides of their work but providing face-to-face contact.”