La Salle art history students featured at virtual symposium

April 12, 2021

Liana Salazar, ’22, and Alyssa Vogel, ’23, presented research that examines social, cultural, and historical issues of gender in art.

Two La Salle University art history majors were selected to present research projects examining social, cultural, and historical issues of gender in art at the State University of New York at New Paltz Undergraduate Art History Symposium, a virtual event held April 9-11.

A presentation by Liana Salazar, ’22, centered on 17th-century Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Alyssa Vogel, ’23, presented research on Spanish Surrealist artist Remedios Varo.

The SUNY conference, in its third year, is a multi-day event that has quickly established a reputation as one of the nation’s premier conferences for undergraduate art history research.

The La Salle students wrote their research papers for a course titled “Women and Art,” led by Mey-Yen Moriuchi, Ph.D. By highlighting the efforts of important female artists, Moriuchi said her students’ research is helping to advance the Lasallian mission of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Both Liana and Alyssa are encouraging us to think about the contributions of understudied women artists and to reconsider what constitutes the canon of art history,” said Moriuchi, an associate professor of art history. “As universities and disciplines seek to decolonize their curricula to create more equitable and inclusive content, it is important to involve students and acknowledge their contributions to this process.”

Salazar, who was born in Alaska and raised in South Jersey, was drawn to the work of Gentileschi, recognized as one of the most progressive painters of her generation, because of the proto-feminist message she incorporated into her works. Salazar pointed to perhaps Gentileschi’s most famous painting, Judith Beheading Holofernes, as an example of work that symbolizes the Lasallian mission.

“Judith was a popular Old Testament figure for Baroque artists because her tale was used to teach young girls of the time about civic virtue, the intolerance of tyranny, and justice,” said Salazar, who also presented research on the art of Japanese Americans detained in internment camps during World War II at the Hunter Museum of American Art’s Undergraduate Symposium, a virtual event held April 10. “Gentileschi portrayed Judith as actively fighting back against tyranny because she believed it was for the greater good. And the Lasallian philosophy calls us to stand with people who face injustice and societal discrimination with courage.”

Vogel, a native of South Philadelphia, said Varo’s work, which often focused on themes of female empowerment, is similarly representative of the Lasallian mission.

“When I think of the Lasallian philosophy, I am reminded of the importance of inclusivity and the awareness of injustice,” said Vogel. “Injustice should be confronted through determination, creativity, and solicitude. And because of this, Remedios Varo’s artwork and her legacy align with the Lasallian philosophy.”

—Patrick Berkery