Smithsonian's Archives of American Art Announces Winner of 2019 Dedalus Foundation Graduate Research Essay Prize

By the Archives
October 18, 2019

Miriam Grotte-Jacobs, a PhD candidate in the history of art at Johns Hopkins University, has been awarded the 2019 Dedalus Foundation Graduate Research Essay Prize at the Archives of American Art. The prize recognizes original research by a graduate student that engages with the holdings of the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art and focuses on studies related to painting, sculpture, and the allied arts from 1940 to the present day.

Grotte-Jacob’s essay, “Centers of Collaboration and the Rise of the Washington Color School,” probes the Archives’ collections to reconstruct a largely unknown history of two Washington, DC-based postwar arts organizations: the Washington Workshop for the Arts, and the Washington Institute of Contemporary Arts. Utilizing oral histories, exhibition checklists and catalogues, promotional materials, photographs, institutional records, and contemporary press reviews, the author offers readers a more complex picture of the art scene in the nation’s capital at midcentury, enriching our understanding of the formation of American modernism, the US reception of the European Bauhaus, and the politics of arts education and access. The prize jury consisted of Jack Flam (Dedalus Foundation), Jennifer A. González (University of California, Santa Cruz), James Nisbet (University of California, Irvine), and Emily D. Shapiro (Archives of American Art).

Grotte-Jacobs will receive a $1,000 cash award and a one-year subscription to the Archives of American Art Journal (, a peer-reviewed scholarly publication that showcases new approaches to and out-of-the-box thinking about primary sources.

The Dedalus Foundation was founded in 1981 by the artist Robert Motherwell to support public understanding and appreciation of the principles of modern art and modernism.

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