Connecticut College art history professor receives New Directions fellowship from the Mellon Foundation
Connecticut College has been awarded a $258,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation to support a New Directions Fellowship for Associate Professor of Art History Karen Gonzalez Rice. With this prestigious fellowship, she will pursue her innovative project, “Visualizing Deafness: Art History in Dialogue with Deaf Studies.”
New Directions Fellowships are designed to support interdisciplinary research by helping early-career humanities scholars pursue systematic training in a new field. Gonzalez Rice is the third Connecticut College faculty member to win this highly competitive fellowship—historians James Downs and Eileen Kane received the honor in 2015 and 2017, respectively.
“Since joining Connecticut College in 2011, Professor Gonzalez Rice has established herself as one of our most outstanding young humanities researchers and a scholar of great range and imagination,” said Dean of the Faculty Danielle Egan.
The award will allow Gonzalez Rice to develop a new research agenda that encompasses Deaf American contemporary artists such as Christine Sun Kim and their work’s reception, Deaf visual culture and the potential of Deaf studies to inform art history.
“Despite the great potential for interdisciplinary dialogue, art historians only rarely have used subjects from Deaf studies, much less its rich theories and methods,” said Gonzalez Rice. “As a discipline, art history has embraced post-colonial theory and critical race theory while neglecting contemporary discourses around disability.”
Gonzalez Rice received her Ph.D. in art, art history and visual studies in 2010 from Duke University. Her first book, Long Suffering: American Endurance Art as Prophetic Witness, published in 2016, examines the work of three pioneering American performance artists —Linda Montano, Ron Athey and John Duncan.
With the support of the fellowship, Gonzalez Rice will pursue formal training in Deaf studies at Gallaudet University, the premier U.S. institution of higher education for Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as well as advanced training in American Sign Language.
“With the Mellon New Directions fellowship, I seek to address this gap in scholarship and to intervene in ableist art historical narratives of American art and visual culture by exploring the expansive possibilities of Deaf studies for the discipline of art history,” Gonzalez Rice said. “Training with Deaf scholars of Deaf studies at Gallaudet University will situate my work at the intersection of art history and visual culture, Deaf studies, performance studies, cultural studies and disability studies, enabling me to contribute to and expand this emerging body of literature on art history and disability.”