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BYU MOA curator receives prestigious Wyeth Grant

For book to accompany upcoming exhibit on the Weir Family

It’s not just the extra funding that Brigham Young University Museum of Art curator Marian Wardle is pleased about. A project she has been working on for the past few years will also be getting national attention in academic circles this year.
“The Weir Family, 1820–1920: Expanding the Traditions of American Art,” edited by Wardle and co-authored by her and six other scholars in art history and cultural studies, was awarded the 2010 Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant, administered by the College Art Association (CAA). The grant will provide significant funding to the University Press of New England for publication of the peer-reviewed book, which will also bear the logo of the CAA.
“These book awards are few and far between. They are based primarily on scholarly and intellectual merit,” Wardle said. “So, the prestige that comes with winning one is arguably more valuable than the funding, which is already generous. It will bring national and international recognition to Brigham Young University, the Museum of Art and a significant portion of the museum’s collection.”
“The Weir Family, 1820–1920” will serve as the catalog for an exhibition of the same title curated by Wardle, which will be on view at the BYU Museum of Art starting Nov. 18, 2011. The exhibition will feature the work of Robert Walter Weir and his two sons, Julian Alden Weir and John Ferguson Weir. Paintings, etchings and drawings by the Weirs form a major part of the Museum of Art’s collection.
University Press of New England Editor-In-Chief Phyllis Deutsch, who applied for the grant, believes the book was selected because of the significance of its content and the reputation of its contributors.  
“The fact that we got the grant confirms the importance of the topic and how beautifully it has been handled by these contributors,” Deutsch said. “They are superb scholars who, in this book, illuminate very current topics in art history and art studies.”
The essays in “The Weir Family, 1820–1920” are primarily centered on the transatlantic roots of the three Weirs and their encounters and exchanges with European art and artists of the period. Robert, Julian and John Weir brought ideas from the European continent back to the United States and disseminated them through their own teaching and artistic explorations.  
BYU art history professor Heather Jensen contributed an essay to the book about the women of the Weir family and how they were essential in preserving the artwork that served as products of these new ideas. In May of 2008, Wardle, Jensen and the other scholars met at BYU to discuss the exhibition and what the focus of the book should be. Jensen said the development of each aspect of the book subsequently came together in a relatively short two years, which she credits to the diligence and direction of Wardle.
During this process, Wardle mentored several student interns who also worked on the book. Art history graduate students Danielle Hurd, who compiled a genealogy for the book, and Julianne Gough, who put together a chronology, will both be credited as contributors.
“The opportunity to get this kind of publication is very unusual, even for graduate students,” Jensen said. “Marian’s interns were able to meet and interact with very well-respected scholars, and given a truly professional, top-notch experience. This has been a wonderful mentoring opportunity for them.”

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