Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124, cchan[email protected]
CANYON, Texas — Two West Texas A&M University art history students are getting national and international attention for their work.
Tiffany Nall, a senior psychology student minoring in art history from Amarillo, has begun work on a national art internship, while a research project undertaken by Umbarger graduate student Michaela Wegman about art created by prisoners at POW camps around the state during World War II has brought attention to the artists in their home country, Italy.
Nall is one of 20 students from around the country — chosen from among 900 applicants — to take part in Association of Research Institutes in Art History’s first virtual internship program. She is working with four prestigious institutions and gaining practical and theoretical training in a variety of professional practices that will be useful not only in the field of art history but transferable to other pursuits. Interns also learn about the different professional pathways available at art museums and research centers.
“I’m floored,” Nall said. “I’m in a cohort of 10, and we’re working daily for four weeks with experts in the field. This will help me discover the full range of careers available to me after graduate school, and I’m networking with people all over the country.”
Nall, 45, is a nontraditional student who went back to school after the birth of her daughter six years ago. Though she’s majoring in psychology, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in art history at WT, with her eye on working one day in a museum.
“Tiffany is one you might see as taking a big risk choosing a career in art history,” said Dr. Amy Von Lintel, associate professor of art history, director of gender studies and the Doris Alexander Endowed Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts. “But her drive and commitment, as well as her talent as a writer, assure me that she will be a huge success in the future.”
Wegman, meanwhile, is meeting her goal of bringing attention to Italian artists who worked in Texas while interred at prisoner of war camps during World War II, including at Camp Hereford, which put artists to work at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Umbarger.
“I tried to find as much information as I could about the ninemen who worked on the project because it bothered me that they were always lumped together and called prisoners. I wanted to be able to restore their identities not just as POWs, but as artistic men,” Wegman said.
While working on the project, funded in part by a Killgoreresearch grant from WT, Wegman met Italian student Sara De Giorgis, who helped put her in touch with families of the artists. That attracted the attention of Il Cittadino di Monza e Brianza, or The Citizen of Monza and Briznza, which wrote about woodcarver Carlo Sanvito in its Oct. 31 issue, mentioning Wegman’s research in the process.
Sanvito learned to carve wood at Camp Hereford and made it his career after the war. He died in 1969 and never told his family about his work in Umbarger, Wegman said.
“They only found out about his involvement five years ago, which I think is so sad. The Italian POWs meant so much to Umbarger,” Wegman said.
The article closes with “the news in the meantime is back in Barlassina thanks to a girl and her research, Michaela Wegman, who in Texas is writing an art thesis on the works of St. Mary’s Church.”
“Michaela’s thesis argues that the mural project created a lasting social connection between the German-American population of Umbarger and the Italian prisoners, where the two groups became friends and even family, rather than enemy combatants,” Von Lintel said. “It’s rewarding to see her efforts bringing attention to the works of these artists.”
Such research projects help the University reach its goal of becoming a regional research institution, as outlined in its long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.
About West Texas A&M University
WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. With enrollment of more than 10,000, WT offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 38 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 15 men’s and women’s athletics programs.