Two 2012 graduating students from the School of Art were chosen as award winners by the College of Arts & Sciences. Who are these remarkable young women? Both Yael Nov and Nadia Jackinsky-Sethi (formerly Jackinsky-Horrell) were chosen by the College as recipients of the Timeless Award in the Future category . The Timeless Awards were part of the College’s commemoration of the University of Washington’s 150th anniversary celebration. Jackinsky-Sethi was also selected as the graduate student who received the Dean’s Medal in the Arts for 2012 .
Yael Nov came to the University of Washington in 2008. She enrolled in a Freshman Interest Group for her first quarter and through that took two paired classes: ART H 201 (Survey of Western Art-Ancient) and PSYCH 101 (Introduction to Psychology). When registering for the classes, her real interest was in psychology, but that quickly changed after the quarter began. Art history completely engaged her. Nov took ART 140 (Basic Photography) during the following quarter and was also captured by the idea of pursuing creative work in Photomedia. Within a year, she had declared majors in both programs. Guidance from Judi Clark, Director of Academic Advising and Student Services in the School of Art, and faculty made it possible for her to complete two degrees in just under four years.
A number of faculty had an impact on Nov while she was a student. She says that each of the Photomedia professors “had their own style of teaching, but I think it was that variety that made it possible to become a more rounded artist.” Keeara Rhoades (MFA 2008) was a visiting lecturer for one of Nov’s classes, and Nov says “She continually asked the most poetic and poignant questions that would spark the creative process.” In Art History, Associate Professor Marek Wieczorek was her primary mentor. In addition to taking several classes from him, Nov worked with Wieczorek on his curating of the Carel Balth exhibit, which opened at the Henry Art Gallery in October 2011. She says she “spent a great deal of time as his research assistant working with abstract photography and its roots in traditional fine arts. It was a great opportunity to bridge my study in art history with my work in the photographic medium.” Though an undergraduate, she also gained teaching experience as an intern for ART 140. She says “it was incredibly fulfilling to be able to share what I had learned and become so passionate about with incoming students. Although it was trying at times, it was those experiences that influenced me to pursue an MFA degree.”
Nov graduated in March 2012 and has already started work on that MFA degree at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. She will graduate in 2014. After graduation she hopes to continue her studio work and thinks she will eventually pursue art education. More about Nov and her artwork can be seen on her website .
Nadia Jackinsky-Sethi came to the School of Art as an Art History master’s student in autumn 2005. She knew that she wanted to study Native American art history with Professor Robin Wright. The Art History Program here is one of the few in the country that allows graduate students to concentrate on that specialty, and Wright is one of the prominent scholars in the field. Being an Alaska Native of Alutiiq descent, Jackinsky-Sethi already knew that she wanted to particularly focus on the study of Alaska Native art.
In just two years, Jackinsky-Sethi finished her master’s degree. Her thesis was titled “Masks as a Means of Cultural Remembrance: Kodiak Archipelago Alutiiq Mask Making.” She immediately started work on her PhD, and she completed that in March 2012. Her dissertation is titled “Alaska Native Artistic Revitalization.” Seven years to finish both degrees is an unusually short amount of time. During those years, Jackinsky-Sethi did quite of bit of traveling to complete her studies and research. She says, “One of the challenges of working in this field is that very little research has been completed on Alaska Native art from an art historical perspective. What is available to learn from published sources is often geographically imbalanced, incomplete, and culturally biased. To work around these challenges, much of my research was completed through fieldwork to communities in Alaska and museum-based collection studies.” Wright shared her experiences working with Native communities and as a museum curator with Jackinsky-Sethi as well as encouraging her to attend professional conferences and apply for academic grants. Jackinsky-Sethi says that Wright “was a great inspiration.” It is worth noting that Wright was also a Timeless Award winner as was her mentor, Professor Emeritus Bill Holm. Sven Haakanson, Director of the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak, Alaska, was also a help to Jackinsky-Sethi, sharing his knowledge of archaeological sites on Kodiak Island and as a member of her dissertation committee.
Six months before completing her PhD, Jackinsky-Sethi began work as the Curator of Collections at the Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka, Alaska . This museum has a strong collection of art and artifacts from all Alaska Native cultures and a history of working with contemporary Alaska Native artists, so it is a good match. She has already successfully applied for grants to support an artist residency series. Late this summer, Jackinsky-Sethi began an extended maternity leave so that she and her husband can welcome their second child. She says “After returning to work, I will be organizing an Alaska Native museum advisory board that will provide guidance to the State of Alaska museums for exhibition and interpretation practices. I am also working on research for a grant project through the Alaska Humanities Forum to document traditional Alaska Native art forms.” In addition, she is teaching survey courses as an adjunct art history instructor through the Kenai Peninsula College (University of Alaska), and she plans to someday write an Alaska Native art history textbook for university-level instruction.
The School of Art is proud of Nov, Jackinsky-Sethi, and the awards they received. They are excellent examples of the potential of our recent graduates.