Dr. Margaret Schmitz is an associate adjunct faculty at MIAD where she is responsible for developing art history courses centered on modernism and contemporary art. This includes classes on Native North American Art, artistic responses to various political and social debates, and the development of an elective centered on her research expertise: transatlantic artistic exchange between British and American artists throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her knowledge and interest in American and British modernisms developed while she completed her PhD thesis at the University of Kent between 2014 and 2018, which focused on the frequent presence of skyscraper imagery in both American and British art from the turn of the century to the Great Depression. The thesis argued that transatlantic artistic exchange helped develop a machine-age aesthetic around this shared subject matter through the reformulation of Romantic tropes. By applying an Anglo-American perspective on early depictions of skyscrapers, the project contributed a new element to scholarship on this topic, which has usually focused on skyscraper imagery from a more nationalist approach or has centered on certain French avant-garde émigrés’ interest in this iconography.
An interest in cross-cultural artistic exchange has introduced a specific set of convictions and intensions in Dr. Schmitz’s teaching. Her courses not only introduce students to major trends and theories in art history, but she tries to formulate these lessons in a way that allows students to view the power dynamics at play during a given period, and to be more aware of absent or marginalized voices. Dr. Schmitz seeks to provide her students with a wide range of cultural materials that have stimulated artists and designers alike from around the world. The influence of fellow artists as well as literary trends, mass culture, music, objects, and more are contextualizing factors utilized in her lectures and seminars. She believes this method offers students a real glimpse into an artist or designer’s historical context.