Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2019
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Art History/Architecture
Colonial Mural Palimpsests in the Northern Andes

I propose to use the support of the Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship for the study of colonial mural paintings in the Northern Andes (Colombia and Ecuador) from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, with an emphasis on their physical and conceptual palimpsests. During my research for my undergraduate honors thesis I had a difficult time finding academic research for this area; instead there was an emphasis on murals from Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia. Besides this geographical neglect, there is also little attention to the interaction of religious orders and local indigenous populations with these paintings, and with other mural programs outside their immediate proximity. When I began to visit missionary churches in the area once occupied by the Muisca population (altiplano Cundiboyasence, Colombia), I realized that there was a need for a project that addressed the complexity of these works, and also, integrated visual and physical elements with materials found in archives. There was a disjunction between what I saw and my initial data. I realized that there is an impulse to select iconographical images, narratives, and complete paintings or scenes, disregarding the presence of multiple layers of paint. Studying the material relationships among image palimpsests reveals much about the stratified histories of religious orders, colonial patrons and indigenous cultures. This study will focus on five mural programs that will serve as case studies, and that will allow the integration of other mural examples to complement specific visual details for the understanding of the overall mural programs. My goal is to produce innovative research that addresses cultural erasure and latent survivals found in the residual layers of mural painting. A multidisciplinary approach that would incorporate multiple perspectives, and provide a comprehensive visual history.