Prior to my Tinker Summer Field Research Travel Grant, I had never had the opportunity to visit Brazil. The objective of my visit to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro had four parts: (1) to conduct preliminary work of seeing original works of art by Mira Schendel and Anna Maria Maiolino that require careful in-person viewing, (2) to gain an understanding of archives for future research; (3) to gain access to important bibliographic materials on key artists to my project unavailable in the United States; and (4) to meet curators and scholars working in my (relatively small) field. My trip happily exceeded my expectations and goals: I not only gained preliminary access to many archives, I was able to conduct substantial primary research, so that I feel capable of beginning the process of writing my dissertation chapters earlier than anticipated. And through my visits to museums and other archives, I was able to see not only many works of Schendel and Maiolino, but also many important works by their contemporaries. At the same time, I gained an excellent sense of precisely which archives and institutions would merit further study, so that I am in a good position to apply for longer ( 4-12 month) grants for dissertation study to return for a longer visit. One of the most unexpected and gratifying aspects of my visit came from my interaction with scholars, intellectuals and curators working on the artists in my project---they all were tremendously helpful in organizing my visit and giving me access to often difficult-to-see works in private collections or institutions replete with bureaucracy. But more importantly, these thinkers provided rich conversational opportunities and useful critiques of my project and its framing questions.
September 25, 2013