Smithsonian American Art Museum Names Janine DeFeo a Predoctoral Fellow

Graduate Center Ph.D. candidate Janine DeFeo (Art History) was appointed as a predoctoral fellow of the Smithsonian American Art Museum for the 2020–2021 academic year. The prestigious fellowship program, now its 50th year, supports undergraduate, doctoral, and postdoctoral students as they pursue research at the museum. DeFeo will conduct research connected to her dissertation, “Food and the Social Body in U.S. Art, 1962–1983.”

The one-year fellowship includes a $36,000 stipend and a research allowance of nearly $3,000. With it, DeFeo will gain access to the Smithsonian’s material and intellectual resources. 

“I am excited to be part of the Smithsonian’s community of scholars and deepen my research under the guidance and advisement of two Smithsonian curators, Saisha Grayson [Ph.D. ’18, Art History] and Paula Johnson,” said DeFeo. 

In her dissertation, DeFeo explores the intertwined histories of performance and food culture in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. 

“In the midst of a national reckoning over the quality, health, and ethics of the American diet, food suddenly begins to appear as a literal material in American art, instead of just as an image,” DeFeo said. “I argue artists in this period identified a special relationship between food, the body, and society, and used food in performance to ask: Where does the body end and the rest of the world begin?” 

She focuses on works where food appears as a material and analyzes them in the context of a changing U.S. food culture. She is studying works by David Hammons, Alison Knowles, Suzanne Lacy, Adrian Piper, and collaborators Gordon Matta-Clark and Carol Goodden.

DeFeo is currently a Joan Tisch Teaching Fellow at the Whitney. She served as a teaching fellow and adjunct lecturer at Baruch College and as a Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow at Hostos Community College. She previously received an Early Research Initiative Knickerbocker Award for Archival Research in American Studies from The Graduate Center. 

DeFeo is one of 21 fellows selected for 2020–2021. Since 1970, 694 scholars have participated in the fellowship program, and former fellows hold positions in leading academic and cultural institutions around the world. 

Submitted on: JUL 30, 2020

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