Todd Olson, Professor

Closed (1) Producing an Art History Book: Jusepe Ribera in 17th-century Naples

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

The Spanish artist Jusepe Ribera interrogated the media of painting, drawing and etching in the vice-royalty of Naples. This publication project looks at the artist's In Ribera's work and its place in the Spanish Empire. His recourse to classical mythology as well as the depiction of Christian anchorites and martyrs is examined in light of the politics of empire, the role of etching, and the conflicts between Christianity and an emergent scientific materialism.
At an advanced stage, this work in progress would benefit from preparation of the manuscript's images and permissions, bibliography, etc. Research apprentices will learn how an art history book is not only written but made.

Bibliographic and image research and organization.

Qualifications: Projects will be designed in response to the interests and skills of the participating students. Reading knowledge of Italian, Spanish and/or Latin would be useful. Students of Art History, History, Religious Studies, Classics, Anthropology, Romance Languages are encouraged to apply. Remote and/or in person research is negotiable.

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs

Closed (2) Transatlantic Stowaways: prints, woodcut initials and marginal borders in books of the Spanish Empire (1492-1700)

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

European printed books traversed the Atlantic during the early Spanish colonial period. Studies often focus on the circulation and impact of European images on indigenous/colonial visual cultures. Along with engravings and woodcuts, the technologies and materials of the workshop also made their way to colonial Latin America and Asia. In Europe as well as Mexico, the modular compositions of woodcut borders and initial letters on the margins of typeface and woodcut prints were important articulations of collective practices and the dissemination of so-called ornamental and marginal imagery. This project will focus on the first printing press in the Western Hemisphere, the press of Juan Pablos in Mexico City (1539-60), with an eye to cultural transfer.

Collect images and develop research methodologies involving image recognition. In addition to online/digital bibliographic work and image retrieval, research assistants will study examples in the Bancroft Library and other regional libraries. Apprentices will collaborate with the professor and explore digital research tools.Remote and/or in person research is negotiable.



Qualifications: Students of Hispanic and Latin-American literature, history and art history in the Early Modern period are encouraged to apply. Reading knowledge of Spanish. Students do not need to be History of Art majors. Knowledge of or willingness to learn digital humanities encouraged.

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs

Closed (3) Book project: Survivals among the Visual Cultures of the Early Modern Trans-Atlantic World

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

The Atlantic of the 15th-17th centuries was heavily trafficked by ships, people, objects, and emergent visual epistemologies. This project draws on several case studies concerned with multi-directional cultural exchanges in the maritime colonial world: the transfer of prints, the mutual recognition of indigenous Americans and the French, the Spanish empire’s treatment of Naples as the “Other Indies,” and the English appropriation of Mexican pictures. Rather than a monograph this is the study of a number of episodes in early modern material culture.

The research assistant will contribute towards a book in progress. The individual project will be shaped by the apprentice’s interests and language skills. Remote and/or in person research is negotiable.



Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Closed (4) Mural Painting Reconstruction and Analysis: Painted Palimpsests in Colombia and Ecuador.

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.


The fragmented quality of colonial mural paintings in Colombia and Ecuador built between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries challenges the study of these images. The painting remnants consist of religious scenes and characters, landscapes, and ornate patterns that range from comprehensible visual scenes to unintelligible overlapped disjointed fragments. The research project is a comprehensive analysis of the role of religious orders in the creation of these mural works, along with local visual and physical characteristics and the palimpsestic potential in the study of visually complex layers.

The Undergraduate Research Apprentice will assist in a Ph.D. dissertation project conducted by Yessica Porras (History of Art) and supervised by Prof. Olson. The project requires the classification and organization of mural photographs, the use of which is to create digital models and reconstructions of painted layers. This will be a collaboration where we will discuss and assess the feasibility of each task and communicate on the approach and possibilities of each reconstruction. I will provide high quality photographs. This is an opportunity to actively participate in a multidisciplinary project where the digital materials created will be used for research and to be shared with local institutions in Ecuador.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Yessica Porras, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Qualifications: Proficient in Photoshop, Lightroom, illustrator and Bridge work flow, also in photo editing, retouching, digital restoration, organization, sharing and image processing. Knowledge of art design, Matterport, and the ability to draw is a plus. All majors accepted. Remote and/or in person research is negotiable.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated