HART Department Welcomes New Faculty This Fall

The fall semester always brings new faces and new courses into our midst, among them, two faculty members who recently joined Vanderbilt’s History of Art Department: Halle O’Neal, Mellon Assistant Professor of Asian Art, and Rebecca VanDiver, Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art History.

onealO’Neal (University of Georgia, B.A.; University of Kansas, M.A., Ph.D.) specializes in premodern Japanese Buddhist art, in particular the intersections of body, relics, and text in visual culture. She teaches classes on Japanese painting and sculpture, East Asian art and architecture, and Buddhist relics and reliquaries. This semester O’Neal will teach two courses: Arts of East Asia and The Arts of Japan.

Prior to arriving at Vanderbilt, O’Neal was a Reischauer Institute Japanese Studies Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. She is currently working on a book manuscript, A Puzzle of Word and Picture: Locating Meaning in the Japanese Jeweled Stūpa Mandalas. This project focuses on the connections between the manipulation and enshrinement of relics and the roles played by word and picture in the expression of meaning. The mandalas, whose central reliquary is constructed not from conventional line work but from the sacred characters of Buddhist scriptures, offer an intriguing vantage on Buddhist notions of body and relic as conveyed through complex negotiations of text and image.

RebeccaVanDiverPhotoVanDiver (Harvard College, A.B.; Duke University, M.A., Ph.D) teaches courses on modern/contemporary African American and African art and visual culture. Her research centers on articulations of blackness in twentieth century African American art, African American artistic engagements with Africa, and the history of display and collection of African culture in the West. This semester VanDiver will teach several sections of the History of Western Art II, Renaissance to Modern Art.

VanDiver had a pre-doctoral fellowship (2011-2013) at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, the University of Virginia, where she taught a course entitled Watching Blackness: the African American Image in 20th Century Film. She specialized in African American Art and the Art of the African Diaspora, and her dissertation was entitled “Loïs Mailou Jones, Diasporic Art Practice and Africa in the 20th Century.”

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