An Outstanding Fulbright Specialist Project in Ghent, Belgium

In April 2017, Dr. Karen Shelby, Assistant Professor of Art History at Baruch College, City College of New York, carried out a Fulbright specialist project with a focus on Art History at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK), School of Arts of University College Ghent. In this post, she answers a couple of questions on her activities and the outcome of her project.

What specific project activities did you complete during your grant?
Dr. Shelby: I taught a series of Master Class lectures for KASK (The School of Arts of University College Ghent) in Ghent, Belgium. The students and I (from Flanders, Spain, Italy, Iran, and Serbia – all M.A. students at KASK) discussed art in the service of the Great War. We examined realist works, abstract reactions, dada, propaganda, commemorative monuments (including cemetery design), and the museums dedicated to the war. We traveled to the In Flanders Fields Museum to analyze how art is utilized as both a document and as a traditional art object in a history museum and were able to speak with the curator on the museum’s program to sponsor a contemporary artist each year in order to assert a contemporary reaction to the war. An underlying theme was nationalism and how that plays into war and art in a contemporary context.

What do you believe were the most important outcomes of your project (i.e. what results did you achieve)?
Dr. Shelby: It was fabulous to experience the different reactions to the art work we discussed in relation to each students’ own art making practice as well as their own national backgrounds. Some our discussions, particularly on the train from Ghent to Ieper to visit the In Flanders Fields Museum, focused on similarities and differences in each or our undergraduate experiences with art history.

Do you intend to continue to collaborate with your host institution in the future?
Dr. Shelby: Yes. I hope so! KASK is currently lacking courses in art of the United States and a course in this subject, with a particular focus on New York City, where many of the art students are likely to, if they have not already, visit at some point in their careers.

Do you intend to establish a linkage (formal or informal) between your Baruch College and KASK?
Dr. Shelby: Yes. My institution already has a Bi-Lateral agreement with UGent. While it may not be possible to create a formal agreement with KASK (I do not teach at a traditional art school), I was working on expanding the current Bi-lateral agreement between Baruch College and UGent, which currently includes the faculties of Management to include the Faculties of Arts and philosophy (UGent) and the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences (Baruch). Many of the UGent students take courses at KASK (I had two this past session) and some KASK students do the same at UGent.

Learn more on about the specialist program and how to request a Fulbright specialist for your institution here. If you are a U.S. academic or professional and want to become a Fulbright specialist, check out this website.