Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art Announces Winner of 2015 Graduate Research Essay Prize

By the Archives
March 2, 2016

Amanda Dalla Villa Adams, a doctoral student in art history at Virginia Commonwealth University, was awarded the Archives of American Art Graduate Research Essay Prize funded by the Dedalus Foundation Inc. This prize recognizes authors who advance the understanding of American art history by using the resources of the Archives of American Art as primary evidence. The annual competition is open to anyone enrolled in a graduate program in art history, visual culture, American studies or related fields.

In her essay, “‘Draw a Straight Line and Follow It (Repeat)’: Walter De Maria’s Cricket Music and Ocean Music, 1964–1968,” Adams reevaluates the significance of Walter De Maria’s sound sculptures within the context of his oeuvre. She explores how musical concepts of syncopation, duration and playback govern not only De Maria’s musical and “minor” works, but also Land Art with which he has been most closely associated.

“Adams’ work is exciting because it reveals an under-investigated aspect of De Maria’s artistic practice,” said Kate Haw, director of the Archives. “It’s a very good example of how considerations of sound can enrich our understanding of the fine arts. We are deeply grateful to the Dedalus Foundation for their continued support of this prize, which encourages and celebrates archival research.”

Adams received a cash prize of $1,000, publication of her essay on the Archives of American Art’s website and a one-year subscription to the Archives of American Art Journal.

The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art is the world’s most comprehensive resource for the study of art in America. It serves scholars, students, journalists, biographers and the interested public from its headquarters in Washington, D.C., its research center in New York City and through its vast online resources available worldwide.

Founded in 1954, the Archives of American Art fosters advanced research through the accumulation and dissemination of primary sources, unequaled in historical depth and breadth, that document more than 200 years of the nation’s artists and art communities. The Archives provides access to these materials through its exhibitions and publications, including the Archives of American Art Journal, the longest-running scholarly journal in the field of American art. An international leader in the digitizing of archival collections, the Archives also makes more than 2 million digital images freely available online. The Archives’ oral history collection includes more than 2,200 audio interviews, the largest accumulation of in-depth, first-person accounts of the American art world.  For more information, visit the Archives’ website at

Founded in 1981 by the artist Robert Motherwell (1915–1991), the Dedalus Foundation educates the public by fostering public understanding of modern art and modernism through its support of research, education, publications and exhibitions in this field. For more information, visit the foundation’s website at