OTT Wins 2nd Award For Research In The History Of Art


October 28, 2015

Southeastern College Art Conference

For Immediate Release

In 2013, William R. Levin, Professor Emeritus at Centre College, Danville, KY, generously endowed an annual award of $5000 to encourage and recognize research in art history. Dr. Levin has been a member of SECAC since 1987; served on the Board of Directors; published in the scholarly journal The Southeastern College Art Conference Review; and been recognized with three of the organization’s highest honors, the Excellence in Research and Scholarly Publication Award in 2004, the Excellence in Teaching Award and the Exemplary Achievement Award.

The selection committee for the William R. Levin Award for Research in the History of Art was comprised of Betsy Fahlman (Arizona State University, Chair), Debra Murphy (University of North Florida), and Janet Snyder (West Virginia University).

The 2015 winner is John Ott for his project “Mixed Media: The Visual Cultures of Racial Integration, 1931-1954.” Ott proposes to examine black and white artists' efforts towards racial integration, both at the level of representation and within art institutions, during the decades before the Civil Rights movement. His book will include images of racial solidarity produced within the arts programs of the New Deal, graphics commissioned by multiracial labor unions, Jacob Lawrence’s paintings of the desegregation of the Coast Guard, the “enlightened capitalist” vision of integration in mass-market magazines like Life and Ebony, and efforts by black modernist painters to claim abstraction as a kind of integrationist visual style.

A specialist in American Art, John Ott, earned his PhD at UCLA in 2002, and is a Professor of Art History at James Madison University, where he has taught since 2003. His book, Manufacturing the Modern Patron in Victorian California: Cultural Philanthropy, Industrial Capital, and Social Authority was published by Ashgate in 2014. He has written two articles relating to the art historical era of his Levin project: “Graphic Consciousness: The Visual Cultures of Integrated Industrial Unions at Midcentury,” published in American Quarterly in 2014; and “Battle Station MoMA: Jacob Lawrence and the Desegregation of the Armed Forces and the Art World,” which will appear in American Art in Fall 2015. He will be co-chairing a session at the 2016 College Art Association meetings titled "On the Visual Front: Revisiting World War II and American Art.” Also a scholar of the American West, he has contributed a chapter, “Westward Contraction: Maynard Dixon Paints the Great Depression,” that will appear in Branding the American West, to be published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2016. 

SECAC facilitates cooperation and fosters on-going dialog about pertinent creative, scholarly and educational issues between faculty and administrators in universities, colleges, community colleges, professional art schools, and museums. Although the organization originated with the twelve states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, members are throughout the United States and abroad.

SECAC fulfills its purpose in part by sponsoring an annual fall conference, hosted by an institution of higher learning. The conference provides members with a forum for the exchange of ideas and concerns relevant to the practice and study of art. The organization also publishes a newsletter and the scholarly journal the SECAC Review.

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Published: Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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